Christopher Plummer: star of stage and screen

World

Christopher Plummer: star of stage and screen

The spellbinding actor, who could swagger while standing still, shot to fame for a role he claimed to despise

Nigel Andrews

The following is a personal appreciation of Canadian actor Christopher Plummer, who died on Friday.

There was a snort and a whinny and he was swiftest off the starting line. The other horses watched him streak ahead. He didn’t even look behind. He was self-absorbed, swift, manic and messianic. He was fastest in sight and first to the finish.

Christopher Plummer was quite a stage prodigy. I saw him play King Henry II in Jean Anouilh’s Becket in 1961 for Britain’s Royal Shakespeare Company. I was 14. He was 31. He was spellbinding. He was the only actor I had seen, and still have, who could swagger while standing still. He didn’t stand still a lot. Mostly he was dash, fire, cockiness, panache and perpetual motion. There were laser beams of teasing and irony. He mercilessly mocked Eric Porter’s dour, obdurate Becket. (That was good for the play.) Some of the other actors, upstaged, must have thought: “Will no-one rid me of this turbulent king?”..

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