Christopher Plummer is a Goddamned National Treasure

There is a peculiar gravitas in Christopher Plummer’s voice; deep and mellow and a little bit lyrical. Maybe it’s always been there. But somehow, at 85, it feels more sincere, more worn, hard earned. Now, in the twilight of his inimitable career, Plummer is finally taking what he so rightly deserves. There was an Oscar in 2012 for Beginners, a testament to the string of meatier roles he’s picked up in the last few years: Leo Tolstoy in The Last Station, film reprisals of his stage work in Barrymore and The Tempest, and now an aging Nazi hunter with early-stage dementia in Atom Egoyan’s Remember. It’s a nuanced role, brave and intelligent and challenging. It’s what makes Plummer a legend: he’s still learning, still showing new sides of himself. And he’s not even close to finished. A man could learn a thing of two from a guy like that.

Is there still something that you’re looking for in your career?

Employment, how about that? [Laughs.] Yes, tons of stuff I want to do before I croak. I’m still going strong, thank you very much. I’m a working stiff. And what I do, what I try to do with all my films, is take parts that are not the same, to be as different as I possibly can be in each role. So far, I think I’ve managed to succeed pretty well.

Tons of stuff I want to do before I croak. I’m still going strong, thank you very much.

Has there been one character that’s resonated and stayed with you more than others?

That’s so difficult. I mean, there are two or three perhaps, and most of them come from the theatre because the theatre, as far as a Great Role is concerned, has more finality to it than film. Film stops. The characters that are written in a play have middle, beginning and an end. I try when I make a movie to make it like a play, to find that middle and end and beginning. Fully rounded characters like Henry V or King Lear or John Barrymore, all those parts have had a huge impact on me.

Your career has spanned six decades. How have you and your work evolved over that time?

Well, I think that you never stop learning. This is the wonderful thing about this particular art. And it has nothing to do with how old you are. That keeps you going. And also, particularly with theatre, it’s a great help for your memory—it’s a great exercise. We have that available to us to keep the mind alive.

Is there anything you wish you had done earlier in your career, or something that you wish you hadn’t done at all?

No I don’t have regrets about my career at all. I’ve been extremely fortunate. You know, there are a couple of things, of course, that you go, “Oh my god, I could have played that,” but somebody else got them and that’s fine, that’s part of the game. But no, no regrets. Absolutely not.