Christopher Plummer: Happy Father’s Gay
BY Brandon Voss
June 17 2011 8:55 AM ET
You were in The Sound of Music, after all.
Well, and God knows I’ve known so many gay people all through my life in the theater and in the arts — and, more covertly, in other businesses as well. People are more open in the arts. They don’t have the self-consciousness that politicians or businessmen have, so they’re freer, and they’re obviously more accepted as being gay. God knows I knew them all when they didn’t dare behave in a gay fashion, because this was in the ’50s and ’60s.
Has anyone ever come out to you?
No, I don’t think so, because I already knew. All my good friends were sophisticated enough to be out.
It’s encouraging to hear that you’ve known many gay people during your long career in the entertainment industry. But as an openly gay actor, your Thorn Birds costar Richard Chamberlain has said that he still wouldn’t advise gay leading men to come out of the closet. What are your thoughts on that after 60 years in the business?
I don’t think about that at all. I accept it for what it is. I’m very friendly with a lot of gays, who I think are terrific, talented, wonderful people, just as a lot of straights I know are terrific, talented, wonderful people. I have no other opinions. I only have one opinion about people, and it’s that I don’t give a damn if they’re gay or not.
Hal was married to a woman for many years, but he secretly had sexual relations with men on the side in places like public restrooms. Have you encountered those types of marriages of convenience or necessity?
I suppose I have. I’ve known several men who’ve been married who were gay on the side, but I don’t know which they preferred more. I’ve also known friends who are happily married and who have cheated.
Why didn’t Hal come out until after his wife died?
Because he had the good taste not to.
Why, at 75, does he go through the trouble of starting over as an active gay man?
It’s released him, so coming out like that is a wonderful gift to have at that age.
How did Hal’s sexuality inform your performance?
Not at all. He’s a real person who just happened to be gay. He’s so happy about being able to admit to everyone that he’s gay, but he’s so modest about it at the same time. He did try to dress a little more flamboyantly because of the younger guy he was with.
Did you have any conversations with Mike Mills, your writer-director, about how far to take Hal’s outward flamboyance?
No, and if I’d been asked to do that type of thing, I wouldn’t have done it anyway. I wasn’t going to go around with limp wrists, screaming and yelling. That’s not the character. He wasn’t like that.
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