LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Christopher Plummer won his first Oscar on Sunday for his supporting role in “Beginners,” in which he plays an elderly man who comes out of the closet and embraces his gay identity.
Plummer, 82, a veteran screen and stage star best known as Captain von Trapp in “The Sound of Music,” became the oldest person to receive an Oscar in the history of the Academy Awards. That title had previously been held by “Driving Miss Daisy” star Jessica Tandy, who won an Oscar at the age of 80.
Plummer, dressed in a dapper velvet tuxedo, got a standing ovation as he made his way to the stage.
“You’re only two years older than me darling, where have you been all my life?” he said, kissing his gold statue.
The Canadian actor, who had only one previous Oscar nomination, swept Hollywood’s awards season for his performance in “Beginners,” which was based on the true story of director Mike Mills’ experience with his own father.
Plummer plays Hal Fields, who after a long marriage announces he is gay and takes up with a young lover, only to succumb to terminal cancer.
“I think of actors being universally the same, gay or straight. A gay actor can play a straight (role) beautifully, and vice versa,” Plummer, who is straight, told reporters backstage.
Plummer has a movie, stage and television career stretching back seven decades that has earned him two Tony awards and two Emmys.
Yet it was only two years ago that he got his first Oscar nomination, for playing Russian writer Leo Tolstoy in “The Last Station”.
Plummer told reporters on Sunday he was feeling “recharged” as an actor.
“I hope I can do it for another ten years at least, I’m going to drop dead wherever I am — on stage or on set. We don’t retire in our profession, thank God.”
Despite appearing in numerous classical and Shakespearean roles on stage, and in movies such “The Insider,” “A Beautiful Mind,” and “Syriana,” Plummer is still most widely remembered for the 1965 musical classic “The Sound of Music” with Julie Andrews.
It was a film he publicly despised for years after, but came to make peace with in later life. “I didn’t hate the movie at all. I just didn’t think my role was terribly exciting,” he told Reuters in 2010.
Reporting by Lisa Baertlein and Lisa Richwine; Writing by Chris Michaud; Editing by Jill Serjeant and Sandra Maler