Christopher Plummer's Advice to Actors? “Be Brave, Take Risks"

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Christopher Plummer on stage in the Eric Harvie Theatre for Shakespeare in Word and Music. Photo: Rita Taylor.

You always have to be brave, there will always be difficult roads.

Be brave, take risks, even if the part isn’t the most desirable.

Actor Christopher Plummer came to The Banff Centre this past weekend to perform Shakespeare in Word and Music, a rare performance which was last seen in 2011 at Ottawa’s Music and Beyond Festival. At 83, he’s holding up a legacy in theatre and film with an inspiring seven-decade career. While Plummer was here, Theatre Arts director Kelly Robinson arranged for him to meet with the writers, actors, and theatre personnel in the program Playworks Ink, which was going on at the same time. I had the opportunity to sit in on the career talk, which turned out to be both comedic and intriguing.

Robinson saw Plummer’s talk as an opportunity to engage him as a mentor. He described acting to me as a “life-long devotion” and talked about the constant need to develop a skill set. 

During the career talk, it was evident that emerging actors are still dealing with the same challenges that Plummer faced back in the 1940s. He stressed that “you always have to be brave, there will always be difficult roads. Be brave, take risks, even if the part isn’t the most desirable.”

His underlying advice to emerging actors was to trust the script’s words, and to transition between film and theatre often while always continuing to work on craft. “To go from one to another is essential,” he said. 

“You have to go back to theatre where you learned your craft, you have to keep polishing it until doomsday.”