Seven late, great Christopher Plummer roles, from Up to Knives Out
If Christopher Plummer had never been anyone to us but Captain von Trapp, his legend would still be cemented in history. Instead the Toronto-born actor, who passed away Friday at 91, went on to be remarkably prolific over the course of his six-decade-plus career — an enduringly beloved screen and stage presence whose dance card only seemed to fill up more quickly as he entered his golden years.
In a business where youth is famously the currency, in fact, he did some of his best and most recognized work as an octogenarian. Below a look at some of those late great roles, including the part that made him the oldest actor to win an Oscar at 82 (and the one that made him its oldest nominee at 88, too).
As the intrepid explorer Charles F. Muntz, the main antagonist in Pixar's balloon-borne smash, a gruff, grandly chatty Plummer is all turtlenecks and tall tales — the most debonair villain to ever steer a dirigible (or teach a dog to "talk").
The Last Station (2009)
With twinkling eyes and a snowy-white beard that grazes his breastbone, Plummer brings the Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy to roaring, mischievous life in Michael Hoffman's antic farce alongside Helen Mirren (as his high-strung wife), James McAvoy (as his young secretary), and Paul Giamatti (as the disciple determined to take control of his book rights).
Few Academy Awards have felt more well-deserved or overdue than Plummer's for his tender, defiant turn as Hal — a man determined to make up for all the years he spent denying his true sexuality in Mike Mills' small melancholy masterpiece, costarring Ewan McGregor as the son with his own romantic issues brought to bear.
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2011)
In a thriller where almost no one can be trusted, Plummer's Henrik Vanger may be one of a very few good men, a wealthy businessman who hires Daniel Craig's Mikael Blomkvist to find the beloved granddaughter gone missing decades ago. But he's hardly a pushover: "You will be investigating thieves, misers, bullies," he tells Blomkvist evenly. "The most detestable collection of people that you will ever meet. My family."
All the Money in the World (2017)
Following sexual misconduct allegations against Kevin Spacey, director Ridley Scott famously recast Plummer in the actor's already completed role — prompting reshoots of 28 scenes in just eight days, a month before the film's scheduled release. Not that you would know any of that by watching: The actor's performance as billionaire oil tycoon J. Paul Getty is a masterclass in mercenary behavior, a despot in velvet gloves. (It earned him his third and final Oscar nod.)
The movie itself isn't much, a goofy road-trip ramble set to wander through the Pacific Northwest. But Plummer's turn as a weed-dealing grandfather alongside his anxious daughter (Vera Farmiga) and grandson is loose and sweet — his blithe spirit helping to keep the story's bittersweet absurdities aloft.
Knives Out (2019)
As the "it" in Rian Johnson's all-star whodunit, Plummer's flinty patriarch technically doesn't make it far past the first few scenes. But as a famed mystery writer forced to improvise the circumstances of his own death, the actor is both the impetus of the plot and the steady anchor around which all the other characters turn — a fitting tribute to both his generosity as an actor and his incomparable ability to command the camera, even on the cusp of his 90th year.