At age 82, Christopher Plummer (Beginners) doesn’t really have to worry about being a little too outspoken or grumpy. Earlier this week, he refused to be photographed with Uggie (the dog from The Artist) at Newsweek’s Oscar roundtable, and made a point to tell the magazine that “[Beginners] had the better dog.” At the event, the actor was also asked about his involvement in Terrence Malick’s The New World (2005) and he didn’t pull any punch, saying that “the problem with Terry is he needs a writer, desperately. He insists on overwriting until it sounds terribly pretentious… and he edits his films in such a way that he cuts everyone out of them.”
To Plummer’s credit, many actors have been dumbfounded to see their roles completely wiped out or significantly diminished after Malick’s notoriously extensive editing of his films. Adrien Brody fully expected to be the star of The Thin Red Line only to find out when the film premiered that he was a minor supporting character with almost no screen time. Just recently, Sean Penn ranted about his role in The Tree of Life which he thought was kind of aimless. Heck, even George Clooney seemed to completely agree with Plummer’s assessments during the roundtable.
Plummer adds: “Terry gets terribly involved in poetic shots, which are gorgeous, they are paintings all of them, but he gets lost in that and the stories get diffused. Particularly in The New World. The first half hour of that film is sheer magic to look at… then the story starts to [wander].”
“I was put all sorts of different spots and suddenly my character was not in the scene that I thought I was in, in the editing room. It was very strange. It completely unbalances everything. And a very emotional scene that I had suddenly background noise,” Plummer said about his work in the film. He added afterward that he wrote Malick a letter: “I gave him shit. I’ll never work with him again.”
And here are more interesting tidbits from the Oscar Roundtable:
- Tilda Swinton on acting: ” I’m sitting here listening to real actors talk about real methods, and I’m thinking once again that I’m an interloper. I am more and more in awe of professional actors. I come to all this from the art world. I started with filmmakers who constantly trained me as a performer to have an awareness of the frame, above all … and if I know that all that is in the shot is my elbow, that’s all I’m going to give. I am super lazy in that sense of it.”
- Viola Davis on actors who are difficult to work with: ““There are two very dangerous [kinds of actors]. The ones that just haven’t put in the time yet, and they experience success at a very young age. And they take it too seriously. Or people who have been in the business for 40, 50 years and never experienced the success they thought they should have had. And so they want to punish you. I’ve had the old bitter ones.”
- George Clooney on not making movies for the money: “I’m trying to make movies that last longer than an opening weekend. I don’t have to make money. I do make films for scale and I can go do coffee commercial overseas and I make a lot of money doing those. People will go ‘that’s a sellout’, you go ‘well you know what: fuck you [...] I don’t rape the budget of a movie… We are not killing the budget of these movies so we get to make these films.”