Atom Egoyan pays tribute to Christopher Plummer

Remember star died at 91

by Anne-Katrin Titze

Atom Egoyan on Christopher Plummer: “I had the honour of working with him twice, with Ararat in 2002 and Remember in 2015.”
Atom Egoyan on Christopher Plummer: “I had the honour of working with him twice, with Ararat in 2002 and Remember in 2015.”

In 2016, Atom Egoyan and I met at the Regency Hotel on Park Avenue for a conversation on his terrifically paced thriller Remember, written by Benjamin August. Structured in the spirit of a cumulative tale the film stars Christopher Plummer, Martin Landau, and Bruno Ganz. Since that time Martin Landau and Bruno Ganz have passed away. Sadly, on Friday morning, February 5, Christopher Plummer died at the age of 91.

Christopher Plummer in Atom Egoyan’s Ararat
Christopher Plummer in Atom Egoyan’s Ararat

At the Museum of Tolerance in New York during the post-screening discussion I moderated on Remember with his producer Robert Lantos, I commented to Atom: I would like to start with your choice of actors. It seems to me that their past roles inform the film. Christopher Plummer seems to whisper inaudibly throughout "Remember The Sound Of Music?" Martin Landau is carrying us through this, in a way, road trip going North by Northwest. There is Bruno Ganz who is famous for playing Hitler and Germany's most famous angel [in Wim Wenders' Wings Of Desire].

Atom responded "I think that Christopher Plummer and Martin Landau came immediately to my head. I've worked with both of them before. I've worked with Chris on Ararat and I've worked with Martin Landau almost 30 years ago on an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents. It was an incredible experience because he had worked with Hitchcock in North By Northwest. I was a kid at the time and it was just so thrilling to get these stories what Hitchcock was like on set from Martin who was so generous. He has so many stories. Chris, because I think he is one of the greatest actors in the English speaking language when you put together his work through stage and screen. I see everything he has done on Broadway or in Stratford in Canada."

This is a role with no subtext [Christopher Plummer as Zev Gutman]. Because of his early onset dementia he has no sense of who he is in the present. He is just playing the present for what it is. And Christopher Plummer makes that so vivid and so urgent and yet you understand that he is carrying this extraordinary past which he doesn't seem to be connected to. And of course Martin Landau understands it completely.

Martin Landau and Christopher Plummer in Remember
Martin Landau and Christopher Plummer in Remember

Atom sent the following tribute in honour of Christopher Plummer: “He was simply the greatest actor Canada has ever produced. I had the honour of working with him twice, with Ararat in 2002 and Remember in 2015. I just received a note from my costume designer, who was planning to work with him on a film of King Lear.

“Chris was busy until the end, doing what he loved to do. His extraordinary career spanned so many eras of acting, from early days here in Canada, to the golden age of the Broadway stage, to the heights of Hollywood, massive international coproductions and then back to unforgettable performances in American independent cinema.

“He was a close friend and I mourn his loss. I was heartened to hear that he died at his lovely home with his cherished wife Elaine at his side.” - Atom Egoyan

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