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Christopher Plummer captivates in revenge thriller Remember

From the moment Atom Egoyan read the script for Remember, he pictured Oscar-winner Christopher Plummer for the lead role in the revenge thriller.

Acting icon plays a holocaust survivor on a revenge mission

Remember filmmaker Egoyan and star Plummer discuss the complexities of depicting a character with a failing memory in Remember. 1:58

Canadian director Atom Egoyan describes Christopher Plummer's performance in the new film Remember as "career-defining," but the iconic, Oscar- winning actor is a bit more humble about his latest lead role. 

"Atom just said that because he directed the movie" the 85-year-old Plummer quipped to CBC News.

"I think it's a rediscovering of things within me that I have never been allowed to do before," he added. 

Remember sees Plummer portray a holocaust survivor named Zev on a revenge mission to find the Nazi soldier who murdered his family at the Auschwitz concentration camp 70 years earlier. 

However, his character is also battling dementia, with his fading memory making the difficult journey that much more menacing. 

"I thought this was a fascinating, extraordinary role and really very foreign to me. It's all about denial in memory, and the memory loss is nothing compared to the denial that goes on," Plummer said. 

'A little pissed off'

Plummer turns in a riveting performance and is onscreen for majority of the film, supported by equally strong performances from co-stars Martin Landau, a fellow Auschwitz survivor who aids the mission with handwritten instructions for the task at hand, and Dean Norris, who portrays a cop. 

Martin Landau, left, and Christopher Plummer appear in a scene from Atom Egoyan film Remember. (CIFF)

In one dark, intense scene, Plummer and Norris' characters have a violent confrontation. Initially the director planned for a body double to stand in for Plummer, but the actor insisted on doing the scene himself.

"For a moment, I was a little bit pissed off, if I may say that. Because it made me feel suddenly rather old. I thought 'Come on guys. Do it, just push me into the sofa!'" 

'A very unusual role' 

Egoyan had Plummer in mind for the role from the moment he read the script. 

"As I was reading it I was just thinking of Christopher Plummer," the filmmaker noted. 

The two previously worked together on Egoyan's film Ararat in 2002 and "I thought if he's on board, this can be a really powerful film."

We don't retire in our profession. It's not like other professions...There are so many things you can do as an old person, but there are so many wonderful old characters we can play.- Christopher Plummer

What really made this role unique, the director said, is the paradox introduced by the lead character's fading memory.

"Because the character has dementia, he's living entirely in the present even though all the action that is compelling him to seek revenge happened a long time ago. It's a very unusual role and it doesn't draw on the usual resource an actor has," Egoyan said.

The legendary actor is a consummate professional who not only pulled the complex role off, but also in few takes, he added.

"He's very demanding, which he has every right to be, because he's coming in at such a high level of preparation and craft.​

As for Plummer, he simply wants to continue working on the craft of performance.

"We don't retire in our profession. It's not like other professions where you are sick and go and lie down. There are so many things you can do as an old person, but there are so many wonderful old characters we can play."

Click on the video above for more from Christopher Plummer and Atom Egoyan.

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