The Oscar-nominated actor also reveals his first thought when asked to replace Kevin Spacey and his most challenging scene to shoot.
Each fall, Plummer and his wife, Elaine Taylor, transform into snowbirds, moving their home base from Weston, Connecticut, to Palm Beach, Florida. But this year, those plans were waylaid in a major way when Plummer, 88, got a call in November about replacing disgraced actor Kevin Spacey in Ridley Scott’s All the Money in the World, a herculean and nearly unprecedented effort considering that the movie — recounting the kidnapping of J. Paul Getty’s grandson — was done and scheduled for a Christmas release. Plummer said yes and was on set three days later. His nomination for his portrayal of the elder Getty makes him the oldest thespian ever nominated for an Oscar. He’s also the oldest to win one, a distinction he earned in 2012 with his supporting actor victory for Beginners.
Did you and Ridley Scott know each other before this film?
I’ve always admired him as a filmmaker, and I’ve always wanted to work with him. And I nearly did because Russell Crowe was very, very decent and kept pounding on Ridley’s chest that he wanted me to be in Gladiator and play the part that Richard Harris played.
Did Ridley himself call you?
No, it was Lou Pitt, who has been my manager and friend for years and years. He said Ridley wanted to fly over from London. We met at the Four Seasons in New York in some awful, businesslike room. We sat looking at each other. There was a lot of silence. Then he explained that I would only have nine days to do the reshoots. I told him I needed to read the script. When I read it, I was surprised because the part was much larger than I imagined. I thought, “My God, how am I going to be able to do this in nine days?” I said to myself, “Oh, hell with it, let’s do it.” I like taking risks.
Do you know Kevin Spacey?
I know Kevin a little. I had no time to even consider him. I was thrilled to take this job because I thought the script was terribly well written.
Did you have any tricks during those nine days?
I didn’t want my memory to be affected, so I cut out the wine.
What was the most challenging scene?
The whole bloody thing was challenging, but challenging in the right kind of way. You want the challenge. The hardest work was to make J. Paul Getty seem human. The writer [David Scarpa] gave him a hint of humanity every now and then. I grabbed onto that. I found a couple of openings in the role that would give the sense that he wasn’t just a cold, moneygrubbing man.
Were you surprised to learn later that your co-star, Mark Wahlberg, was paid $1.5 million to come back for the reshoots, while Michelle Williams received a per diem amounting to about $1,000?
Oh Jesus, it never stops. The scandal goes on and on. I thought it was good that Mark ended up donating his salary. You’ve worked as an actor for decades.
What do you make of the post-Harvey Weinstein era?
It’s amazing it has come out. A lot of us knew about certain people. God bless women. Now they can come forward and not have to stand for it anymore.
Did you know about Harvey?
One had a suspicion, yes. I worked with him ages ago when he was producing and directing animated films. I did voiceovers for him. He was quite nice then. He wasn’t yet a monster.
This story first appeared in a February standalone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.