Victoria Ahearn, Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, October 13, 2021 12:09 am EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, 13 October 2021 7:01 PM EDT
TORONTO – Christopher Plummer once said he felt right at home at Ontario’s Stratford Festival, so it’s fitting that one of his legendary stage roles is featured on the new Canada Post stamp in his honor.
The work unveiled Wednesday depicts the late Toronto-born stage and big screen in some of the key roles of his 70-year career, with his acclaimed role as Prospero the wizard in the 2010 production of “The Tempest” in the foreground.
Floating backdrops amidst storm clouds and lightning from “The Tempest” are four images from other roles: King Lear in the stage production of “King Lear,” Rudyard Kipling in the 1975 adventure feature “The Man Who Will Be King,” Capt. Georg von Trapp in the 1965 musical “The Sound of Music” and John Barrymore in the play “Barrymore.”
“It’s a beautiful, lightning-fast work of production in a backdrop that lends itself to Chris Plummer’s wild side,” Des McAnuff, former Stratford Festival artistic director who directed Plummer on “The Tempest” and “Caesar and Cleopatra,” said Wednesday in a telephone interview. .
“He was a great partner and in that sense, it was a bit of a long runway to get him to do it because he would always say: ‘Well, this (role) is what to do when you come out, (when) this is your last show. , and I wasn’t ready to put on my last show yet,” added Ontario-raised McAnuff.
“I ended up finding out that John Gielgud did ‘The Tempest’ six times and so I said, ‘Well, for Gielgud that’s a really long way out, so I guess you shouldn’t worry too much.’ So he took it and it was my luck.”
The Canada Post said Plummer played a major role in selecting the postage designs before he died at his Weston, Conn., home in February at the age of 91.
Crown Corporation said it first approached the Oscar-winning star to make stamps in 2019 and he was excited by the idea and consulted along the way.
Nova Scotia-based artist Steven Slipp designed the stamps and UK-based Oliver Burston, aka Spooky Pooka, illustrated.
McAnuff and Plummer’s widow, dancer/actress Elaine Taylor Plummer, were among those who attended Wednesday’s Toronto press conference. Others in attendance included his longtime friend and manager, Lou Pitt, and former CBC News host and writer Peter Mansbridge, the show’s MC.
Plummer has appeared in more than 200 screen projects and performed on stages around the world.
Her awards include two Emmys, two Tonys and an Academy Award for her supporting role in “Beginners.”
McAnuff, who had planned to shoot the Canadian feature film adaptation of “King Lear” starring Plummer last summer, said the actor was a “truly wonderful creative partner” who “came to the table with insight and ideas.”
“But there’s a side to him that might come as a surprise,” McAnuff said. “He of course, of course, has a tough ego. He was, at the time of our release (‘The Tempest’), the greatest actor in the world. But he’s also very simple and gentle and he has a very sensitive and gentle side.”
McAnuff remembers Plummer wanting to see certain lighting cues during technical practice for “The Tempest.” Time was tight and Plummer sat beside him in the front row of the theater to get in touch with McAnuff about it.
“He said, ‘Be patient with me, son. I promised I only wanted to see this one thing,” McAnuff recalled. “And the fact that he would care about how I felt when he played Prospero was totally unexpected and was a real building block in our friendship. I saw a dimension there that was a little enlightened.”
McAnuff, a two-time Tony Award winner who recently shot the film version of “Jersey Boys” with Nick Jonas, brings his hit “Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of the Temptations” back to Broadway this weekend.
But his plans for a big screen adaptation of “King Lear” are still alive. He produced it with Shaftesbury CEO Christina Jennings and worked closely with Plummer on developing the script.
McAnuff said he had been told that in the end, Plummer told people close to him that he wanted McAnuff to continue with the film.
“The thing is, of course, you’re tempted to wait for an actor like Christopher Plummer. You don’t do Lear and then find someone to play it with. You do ‘King Lear’ because you have an actor who can play Lear,” he said.
“He was, of course, the inspiration for it and I think I can wait a very long time – a very long time, indeed – before an actor like Christopher Plummer comes along.”
This Canadian Press report was first published on October 13, 2021.
Here’s the big reveal! pic.twitter.com/b3svxNBRKG
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