In today’s Toronto Star, Richard Ouzounian reported that “Ohristopher Plummer, when asked the first thing that went through his mind when his name was announced as the winner of the Best Supporting Actor Oscar Sunday, didn’t hesitate with his answer. “I winked at Rooney Mara, who was sitting beside me,” he said, speaking of his co-star from The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. “She was so supportive of me in all the pre-show publicity that I had to thank her. And I also adore her.” After that came more practical concerns. “Is my fly open? Should I button my dinner jacket?” All of this whizzed through his mind in a few seconds and that includes the change in mental attitude when he found out he had won. You have to be prepared to lose. . . . You steel yourself for that. But once you’ve found out you won, you empty your mind for a second, then as you start walking up the stairs, you form your opening sentence.”
The 82 year-old Plummer, speaking the morning after the ceremony from his hotel in Beverly Hills, was the oldest actor in history to win an Oscar. His speech was graceful and witty, beginning with an address to the 84-year-old Oscar statuette: “You’re only two years older than me, darling. Where have you been all of my life?”
Plummer admitted that was one of one of several opening lines he was juggling in his head as he strode towards the podium.
I’m afraid I won all the awards this year, so you have to get a generic speech of thanks ready for every ceremony and then you give it a special little spin off the top for each one,” he joked. “It’s much harder work actually than creating a movie role or playing a part by Shakespeare.
Many people commented on two items of Plummer’s apparel: his [Canadian-made] velvet dinner jacket and the Order of Canada pin in his lapel.
“The Americans want to know what the Order of Canada is and I’m delighted to tell them, because it’s a world-famous award. I’m honoured to have one and it reminds me that I’m always representing my country when I’m abroad.”
Plummer’s age was another theme of the evening, with host Billy Crystal initially quipping that “Christopher Plummer, ladies and gentlemen, may be walking up onstage tonight . . . because apparently he wanders off,” an inappropriate remark in light of Plummer’s polished speech.
But the Montreal-born actor laughed it off. “Oh no, no, I never mind anything like that. I’m finding that 82 is the new 62, in fact. The only thing I have to watch out for is all these incredibly talented young men and women performers who all want to act terrifically respectful to me, which makes me try to act suddenly younger.”
Years of experience have taught Plummer how to survive the party circuit on Oscar night.
“I’ve learned which ones to attend and which ones to avoid, otherwise you kill yourself. They’re so crowded, so silly and you never see anyone you really want to see.”
The exception, where you could find Plummer Sunday night, “is the Governors Ball. It’s well protected and you can actually have a civil conversation.”
The praise connected with winning an Oscar “is a lovely thing,” but Plummer says the major benefit is generating audiences, both for Beginners, the film he won it for, and the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, where he’ll appear in A Word or Two, the new show he’s devised and will star in, which starts performances there on July 25.
As for the thought of being up for another Oscar in a year or so, Plummer shudders.
“No, no, no! I’m going to lie down now. I’m exhausted.”
Plummer is at Stratford, Ontario this June playing Prospero in Shakespeare’s The Tempest and a one-hander called A Word or Two. The blurb for the one-hander reads:
One of our greatest classical actors takes us on an autobiographical journey through the literature that has stirred his imagination since youth. From the sacred to the profane, from Stephen Leacock and A.A. Milne to Ben Jonson and the Bible, these selections of poetry and prose reflect a life-long love affair with the written word.
More about A Word or Two and Plummber’s acceptance speech for his Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor .