Stories from Behind my Camera : Christopher Plummer
The moments in life that happen so unexpectedly and so spontaneously can sometimes be the ones that stay with you forever. One of those brief moments happened at the Juno Awards in the early 90's as I was waiting to shoot interviews with award winners backstage while working for YTV.
That year they had the backstage talent waiting or holding area set up like a small bar room. It was great; small round tables with 2 and 3 chairs around them. Out of the way of the stage area, it was set up far enough back so conversations could even be had. It was a smart way to keep the restless mob of talent, reporters, camera crews and presenters occupied while hanging out and a good perk to the "hurry up and wait" game that comes with the entire entertainment industry.
There are a lot of perks that come with working in the industry, however as a "techie", you don't always get to part take in the finer things being laid out for the big events you so often are sent to "cover". This was one of those times we were early for our interviews and so the opportunity presented itself to "hang out" and I did happily.
I got myself a beer, found a small table on the out skirts of the bar set up, put my camera under my chair with the lens in between my feet and waited. My field producer went off to do what field producers do; find the lay of the land, figure out our path, get the lineup of what's happening when and pretty much get organized; so I sat quietly waiting for my cue to jump up and start rolling.
the Film that Made Chrisopher Famous
I was sitting quietly watching the backstage action and the show on the monitors or TV screens they had in the area, when Christopher Plummer approached my table.
"Do you mind if I join you?" he asked, "please do" I replied, surprised, trying to keep my composure as he took a seat and joined me. I was beside myself.
Christopher Plummer is one of the all time great Canadian actors. He just won his first Academy Award in 2012 for Best Supporting Actor in "Beginners", making him the oldest actor to ever receive one, but it was long overdue.
Although he was best known for his role in the 1965 musical "The Sound of Music" as Captain Georg Ludwig von Trapp, playing opposite Julie Andrews, he has surpassed that role by becoming one of the most flexible and well rounded actors of the century.
His film career started in 1957 with the movie "Stage Struck" and he is still acting today. He is not limited to film however, his career has been filled with theatre and television productions too numerous to name.
For me, an icon of the entertainment industry had just sat down with me in the most casual way imaginable ... and I was speechless ... for a minute.
So what do you say to someone you have watched all your life (I was born in '61), admired and seemed bigger than life?
You say "and how are you tonight?", then try not to get sucked up in the eye candy sitting in front of you that is causing you to forget what words are, never mind which ones to use.
He was lovely. His voice carried his magical accent that melted my heart with every word he spoke. His smile is one I'll never forget, genuine and true. His eyes smiles too and had a special glint about them. His look is one I'll never tire of, truly dashing with a touch of elegance, combined with a handsomeness that is truly easy to look at.
I spent the entire time trying to keep calm and my composure together: you are not supposed to be star struck working in this industry and I can honestly say it has only happened one other time in my career since.
all about Christopher Plummer
The 10 minute conversation was light, he was there to present an award and was playing the waiting game - with me!
He was interested in the fact that I was actually a camera operator and not just babysitting the camera - in those days I was a rare commodity. I was interested that he had just finished Malcolm X and was curious as to what was next for him.
The more we spoke the more relaxed I became and the more enjoyable that time was. I broke down and told him my mother thought he was one of the greatest actors around, explaining to him at the same time that I knew I shouldn't be telling him; he took the compliment well and we chuckled, he understood the tiny thrill my mom would get when she heard of my experience with him that night.
As he left for his turn to present the Juno award, he shook my hand and smiled sincerely; "so nice to have met you and please tell your mom I said "Hi"".Well you can imagine how touched she was!
No Pedestals Needed
Not an earth shattering moment but a real one. A simple result of being in the right place at the right time resulting a memory which has stayed with me forever.
It was an affirmation that entertainers who are all too often put up on pedestals are actually just regular people like the rest of us. All too often actors, musicians, athletes and politicians seem to be unreachable, unreal, unapproachable and beyond reproach.
It was a great opportunity early in my career to have an encounter with someone who I thought was really talented and bigger than life. It helped me realize that we all come from the same place, we are all special and all have dreams; no pedestals are needed.
A valuable lesson came from one of the best looking men ever to sit and have a drink across from me; treat everyone as if they were a star, because everyone is in their own right.
© 2012 eye say