Entertainment·The Interview

Christopher Plummer downplays his Oscar chances, but savours the glamour

The veteran Canadian actor is on the Oscar ballot for his performance as J. Paul Getty in All the Money in the World, but says his money is on Woody Harrelson or Sam Rockwell for their roles in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.

Veteran Canadian actor on ballot for role that replaced Kevin Spacey in All the Money in the World

Actor Christopher Plummer is in contention for an Oscar this year for his role as J. Paul Getty in All the Money in the World. (Jon Castell/CBC)

If the Academy Awards are the measure of an actor's value, Canadian Christopher Plummer is at the top of his game.

Three nominations since 2010, including this year for playing J. Paul Getty in All the Money in the World.

If that's not impressive enough, he began shooting his role for that film just two days after he finished reading the script.

It was a rush job, because director Ridley Scott decided to replace all the scenes with Kevin Spacey in them after allegations of sexual misconduct were made public.

Kevin Spacey, left, originally played billionaire J. Paul Getty in the film All The Money In The World. His scenes were redone by Christopher Plummer, right. (Associated Press)
Oh yes, one more thing: Plummer is 88 years old.

When the nominations were announced, the headline in the Hollywood newspaper Variety wasn't that Plummer was nominated for the third time in eight years, but instead: "Plummer becomes oldest actor to be nominated for an Oscar."

"Not crazy about always being called the oldest," Plummer chuckled when we spoke near his winter home in Florida.

In fact, he said his age — or rather, his decades of experience in theatre — made the challenge of the last-minute reshoot easier than one might think. Plummer added that when you've done as much live theater as he has, "you have such great confidence to take risks and do what you want."

It also helped to have great faith in his director.

"I am very fond of Ridley. Wonderful sense of humour. Sardonic. That helped relax me," Plummer said.

Plummer, interviewed here at his Florida home by CBC's Ian Hanomansing, has been acting for seven decades. (Jon Castell/CBC)
"Of course it was scary, but it was also fun because we laughed all the time. Probably out of fear, but we had a wonderful time."

Plummer exuded a comfortable confidence during the conversation, a man used to being in the spotlight. He first appeared on Broadway in 1953. He has starred on stage in London and, of course, in Canada, including the renowned Stratford Festival.

His list of awards — Emmys, a Genie, a British Film Award, Screen Actors Guild — speaks to an extraordinary international career that has spanned theater, television and movies. And then, at the age of 82, an Academy Award for his role in Beginners.

A stage as well as screen actor, Plummer is seen here with Nikki M. James in the Stratford Shakespeare Festival's staging of Caesar and Cleopatra in 2008. (Stratford Shakespeare Festival David Hou/Associated Press)
While Plummer has seen a lot in his seven decades as an actor, I was curious about his views on the emerging #metoo movement. It is arguably part of the reason the sexual misconduct allegations against Kevin Spacey became public, and why the studio felt it had to replace Spacey.

What is Plummer's perspective on sexual harassment in his industry?

"This has been going on since time began, since the Phoenicians. This has been a power play since the world began," he said.

As for #metoo, Plummer paused for a moment. "What am I going to say, other than it's great these women can come forward and feel they're supported."

Christopher Plummer on #metoo

4 years ago
Duration 0:50
Stage and screen actor Christopher Plummer weighs in on the #meetoo movement in the entertainment industry.

Plummer said he isn't planning to make a #metoo statement on Oscar night. He's also pretty sure he won't be on stage accepting an award (his money is on Woody Harrelson or Sam Rockwell for their roles in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), though he'll have a brief acceptance speech ready just in case.

And while he'll savour the glamour of the award ceremony, he also said he's not planning to attend those famous after-parties.

Christopher Plummer on partying

4 years ago
Duration 0:33
Veteran actor Christopher Plummer says the Oscars after-parties don't hold the same draw for him that they used to.

It wasn't always that way.

"I loved to party when I was young," Plummer said. "I would have been the last to leave. They'd have to carry me out."

Things are different now, Plummer added with a wry smile. This Oscar night, "I'll try to get to bed as early as possible. I may go to sleep in my seat ..."

More from CBC

Watch Ian Hanomansing's interview with Canadian actor Christopher Plummer from CBC's The National:

Oldest Oscar winner Christopher Plummer could set new record

4 years ago
Duration 9:15
The oldest person to ever win an Oscar, Christopher Plummer, could set a new record at this year's Academy Awards. Plummer set the bar back in 2012 when, at the age of 82, he won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. Now he has the chance at another Academy Award — but in the Canadian legend's eyes, he's a longshot. Plummer sat down with host Ian Hanomansing to talk about this year's Oscars, what it was like to play a billionaire, and the #MeToo movement


Ian Hanomansing is the co-host of The National. Since 1986, he has had a wide variety of assignments for CBC as a reporter, anchor and interviewer. He also has a law degree from Dalhousie University in Halifax.