Plummer on Plummer: Christopher Plummer Recalls A Word or Two for New One-Man Play

By Harry Haun
17 Jul 2012

Plummer and Nikki M. James in Caesar and Cleopatra at Stratford.
photo by David Hou

Real-life people and historical characters are a specialty with Plummer, who takes care to get them correct. "They require research. A lot. I didn't have to research Mike Wallace because I watched him consistently since he was a hardcore journalist on TV in the '50s, but I certainly had to research people like Franz Ferdinand in a thing I did on the Hapsburgs — well, all of them, really. I didn't have to research Rudyard Kipling because I grew up with Rudyard Kipling. I find research fascinating. I'm going to do another. I'm not going to tell you what it is yet, but I'm going to do another real-life historical figure, and I'm going to have a ball getting dirt on him."

His last Broadway appearance — his 17th — was as a fictional facsimile of Clarence Darrow in Inherit the Wind. What are the chances he'll next show up there as Christopher Plummer in A Word or Two? He responded cautiously: "Well, it's not that kind of a show. It probably would do better in a smaller theatre Off-Broadway, or a small theatre on Broadway where I could give it a limited run. It's not very long, but it's quite exhausting. It's just me talking for a bloody hour and a half. Barrymore was a toughie like that, but this one jumps around more, from one thing to another, different voices, different accents. And so it's highly concentrated.

"If it's well received and shows some promise — yeah, I'd love to come and do it for a limited run. The audience needs to be, at least for a part of it, well-read so they can recognize certain things that I do and know what the hell I'm talking about."

The filmed Tempest probably means he won't be doing Prospero on Broadway anytime soon. "The one I wanted to bring to New York was Caesar and Cleopatra — we might still do that. Nikki M. James, the young girl who won the Tony for Book of Mormon, was so wonderful in it. She was my Cleopatra and looked 16 on the stage, exactly the age that George Bernard Shaw had written her. I'm hoping that it will happen because it's a part that I could play till I'm 100."

Hail, Christopher! Keep the thought!

For more about A Word or Two and the 2012 Stratford Shakespeare Festival — Plummer's Canadian artistic home — visit