Five of Broadway’s finest actors are in the running for 2012 Academy Awards! In honor of their stellar work onscreen, Broadway.com is looking back at the most unforgettable stage roles of Oscar nominees Glenn Close, Viola Davis, Janet McTeer, Christopher Plummer and Meryl Streep. Check back each day for a different Oscar Watch feature, then tune in to ABC's live telecast on February 26, hosted by Broadway vet Billy Crystal, to find out which stage great will take home Hollywood's biggest prize.
CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER, Best Supporting Actor Nominee for Beginners
J.B. (1958): This Canadian-born star has played every conceivable classical role on stages around the world, but our list will concentrate on five of his seven Tony-nominated performances. Plummer’s first Tony nod came in 1958 in a Pulitzer Prize-winning play that sounds both awesome and odd: Archibald MacLeish’s free-verse retelling of the Old Testament story of Job. Plummer played Nickles, a Satanic figure who urges J.B. (Pat Hingle) to commit suicide.
Cyrano (1973): You’ve seen him warble “Edelweiss” as Captain von Trapp in The Sound of Music, but Plummer is also a Best Actor Tony winner for singing the role of Cyrano de Bergerac in the first of two short-lived musical adaptations of Edmond Rostond’s romantic adventure. Huge chunks of the show have been preserved in an original cast recording that shows off Plummer’s flair for lyrics penned by A Clockwork Orange author Anthony Burgess.
Othello (1982): Plummer cemented his reputation as an unparalleled classical actor with a Tony-nominated performance as Iago opposite the great James Earl Jones. Plummer’s chilling portrayal of evil made it clear that Othello, powerfully portrayed by Jones, never stood a chance. (In his autobiography, Plummer blamed his Tony loss on the fact that his actress daughter, Amanda, won that year for Agnes of God.)
Barrymore (1997): At age 68, Plummer took on a demanding solo performance as iconic American actor John Barrymore in William Luce’s biographical play, bringing a rakish charm to the stage and earning his second Tony Award. Plummer, a lover of alcohol in his youth, has written of his obsession with Barrymore, who drank himself to death at 60. The role proved to be such a good fit that he reprised it to acclaim (at age 81, no less!) at Stratford in 2011.
King Lear (2004): The Mount Everest of Shakespearean roles has claimed plenty of victims—but Plummer scaled its heights in a Tony-nominated performance that was both powerful and heartbreaking. In a production that filled the huge stage at Lincoln Center’s Vivian Beaumont Theater, Lear’s old age became the emphasis, making his descent into madness all the more affecting.