Christopher Plummer is Prospero, Shakespeare’s exiled, ageing conjuror, the dethroned Duke of Milan, in The Tempest.
The acclaimed Stratford Festival stage production, directed by artistic director Des McAnuff, was filmed for a limited theatrical release, intensive work requiring 14 cameras shooting over three days. McAnuff is delighted that Plummer’s performance has been captured for future audiences.
“He has an indefatigable charm, inexhaustible charm. The charm is in abundance, even in crotchety old Prospero. He is magnetised, he holds the audience in his grip. The thing is that he is an actor of great intelligence. I think he may be the greatest actor of our time, in the world. There is no doubt he’s the greatest stage actor and a magnificent film actor.”
McAnuff says Plummer wasn’t keen on playing the part initially.
“I had to persuade him to do Prospero. Some actors think that’s a role an actor does at the end of his life or career, but I told him John Gielgud did the role 11 times, it wasn’t his finale. It was a great journey for both of us. I don’t want to say it was effortless, but it was a joy for both of us. He’s done Iago, Hamlet, Henry V, Lear, and Macbeth. He was due for Prospero.”
Plummer, now 80, is experiencing a major career uptick. He’s shooting scenes for the American version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and will bring his Tony-award winning two-man play, Barrymore, to Toronto’s Elgin Theatre in January.
Last year, Plummer was nominated for an Oscar for The Last Station. And he was finally reunited with his Sound of Music co-stars, 45 years after the release of the classic crowd pleaser, on Oprah, no less. McAnuff calls Plummer a rarity.
“I’d go as far as to call him a national treasure.”