Christopher Plummer: Happy Father’s Gay
BY Brandon Voss
June 17 2011 8:55 AM ET
Inspired by the real-life experiences of filmmaker Mike Mills, Beginners, which expanded into wide release June 15, stars Christopher Plummer as a recently widowed father who comes out as gay to his son (Ewan McGregor) and gets a younger boyfriend (Goran Visnjic) at age 75, five years before his death from cancer. A mellow man of few words, the 81-year-old Oscar nominee explains why all his gay friends are out — and why he’d prefer not to talk about kissing his handsome costar.
The Advocate: Many outlets have reported that Hal in Beginners is your first gay role, but that’s not true, is it?
Christopher Plummer: No, it’s not true at all.
You played gay in the 1980 TV movie The Shadow Box. As in Beginners, interestingly enough, you played a man who’s dying of cancer and who dates a younger man after many years of marriage to a woman, but I imagine it was a different experience to play gay on television more than 30 years ago. Do you remember any controversy or raised eyebrows surrounding that project?
No, because the film wasn’t about being gay. Shadow Box was so concentrated on the cancer theme that one didn’t discuss the gay thing; as far as I can remember, it was just accepted as being a part of it.
But after 30 years of progress when it comes to gay visibility and gay rights, did it feel any different to play a gay character?
Well, Beginners isn’t about being gay either — it’s about being who you are and how to be happy about it. Hal is totally up-front about it, and he admits with great glee that he’s gay. That’s what was so endearing to me about the script.
Have you been offered other gay roles in your career that you turned down?
No. But if they were good, I wouldn’t have turned them down.
You did drag as a crazy thief in the 1978 film The Silent Partner.
He was a transvestite, wasn’t he? I thought of him as a cross-dresser, but God, he was everything under the sun — a wonderfully exaggerated creature.
Before Beginners and all the press and attention that have come with it, were you conscious of the gay audience?
Oh, I’ve got a lot of gay fans — I hope.
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