FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, January 13th, 2014
Plummer Recreates His Tony Award-Winning Performance as John Barrymore in
Great Performances: Barrymore
Premieres Friday, January 31st at 8:00pm on WTVP-HD 47.1.
- An acting legend portrays an acting icon in an astonishing tour de force -
After Christopher Plummer's multiple awards wins for Beginners in 2010
(Oscar, Golden Globe, BAFTA, and more), the distinguished star of stage and screen went on to
deliver another highly affecting performance, when he recreated his Tony Award-winning role of
legendary actor John Barrymore in the film adaptation of William Luce’s Broadway play of the same
Barrymore will air on Great Performances, Friday, January 31st
from 8:00-10:00pm on WTVP-HD 47.1.
Set in 1942, Barrymore shines a dramatic spotlight on the
acclaimed—and notorious—John Barrymore, capturing the famously combative star in the final months
of his life as he struggles to prepare for a backer’s audition to stage a revival of his 1920
Broadway triumph in Richard III. Once among the most acclaimed stage actors of his
generation, as well as a central member of Broadway and Hollywood’s most famous acting dynasty,
Barrymore is now in the twilight of his career, no longer a leading box office draw and wrestling
with the ravages of his life of excess. In equal parts lacerating wit and piercing despair, the
faded icon revisits the highs and lows of his theatrical triumphs and remarkable life.
The film had its world premiere at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival.
It was directed and adapted by writer-director Érik Canuel from the production for which Plummer
won both a Tony™ Award and Drama Desk Award. John Plumpis, who toured with Plummer in the play
after its Broadway run, recreates his role of Frank, the prompter.
Christopher Plummer has enjoyed almost 60 years as one of the worlds most revered
and beloved actors on screen and on stage. Since Sidney Lumet introduced him to the screen in
“Stage Struck” (1958), his range of notable films include “The Man Who Would Be King,” “Battle
of Britain,” “Waterloo,” “Fall of The Roman Empire,” “Star Trek VI,” “Twelve Monkeys,” and the
1965 Oscar-winning “The Sound of Music;” more recently, Oscar-nominated “The Insider” (as Mike
Wallace, he won the National Film Critics Award), the Oscar-winning “A Beautiful Mind,” “National
Treasure,” “Syriana,” “Inside Man” and “Girl with a Dragon Tattoo.” His upcoming films include
“Imagined” (opposite Al Pacino) and “Elsa and Fred” (opposite Shirley MacLaine). Plummer is also
in “Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight,” which is currently airing on HBO. His TV appearances, which
number close to 100, have earned him two Emmys and seven Emmy nominations.
Raised in Montreal, Plummer began his professional career on stage and radio in
both French and English and played Cymbeline under the great Russian director, Theodore Komisarjevsky.
After Eva Le Galliene gave him his New York debut (1954) he went on to star in many celebrated
productions on Broadway and London’s West End, winning accolades on both sides of the Atlantic.
He has won two Tony Awards plus seven Tony nominations.
A former leading member of the Royal National Theatre under Sir Laurence Olivier and
the Royal Shakespeare Company under Sir Peter Hall, where he won London’s Evening Standard Award for
Best Actor in Becket, Mr. Plummer also led Canada’s Stratford Festival in its formative years under
Sir Tyrone Guthrie and Michael Langham.
Plummer’s life is recounted in his autobiographical memoir, In Spite of Myself
(Random House). Christopher Plummer’s one-man show "A Word or Two" will play the Ahmanson Theatre
in Los Angeles from Jan. 19 to Feb. 9.
Of Plummer's performance, critic Rex Reed proclaimed, "It’s the role -- and the
performance -- of a lifetime, and he plays every color, nuance, mood shift and variety of vocal
power and body language in his enormous range. The artistry leaves you with your mouth wide open."
John Barrymore, the American stage and screen actor whose rise to super-stardom
and subsequent decline is one of the legendary tragedies of Hollywood, was a member of the most
famous generation of the most famous theatrical family in America, and he was also its most
The youngest and most gifted son of performers Maurice and Georgina Drew Barrymore,
and brother of Ethel and Lionel, John Sidney Barrymore was born in Philadelphia in 1882. By 1909 he
had achieved the status of matinee idol owing to his good looks, distinguished profile, quick wit
and personal charisma.
Throughout the 1920’s, he played two roles which were widely acknowledged as the
pinnacles of his stage career: Richard III (1920) and Hamlet (1923), the latter
of which ran long enough to set a New York record and had a successful run in London. Following
these triumphs, Barrymore devoted his time to his film career and appeared in one MGM production,
Rasputin and the Empress, with his siblings, Lionel and Ethel. After many years in
Hollywood—starring in more than 60 films, including such classics as “Grand Hotel,” “Dinner at
Eight,” “Twentieth Century,” “Romeo and Juliet,” “Maytime,” and “Marie Antoinette,” John Barrymore
returned to Broadway in 1939 for a brief run in 1 comedy with his fourth wife, Elaine Jacobs.
Theatre historians generally agree that had Barrymore possessed the necessary
dedication and determination, John Barrymore would have been the greatest stage actor of his
generation. After 1925, however, the hedonistic actor dissipated his talents.
Barrymore died in 1942, at the age of 59, mourned as much for the loss of his life
as for the loss of grace, wit, and brilliance which had characterized his career at its height.
Today, granddaughter Drew Barrymore carries on the family name.
Playwright William Luce previously wrote the Broadway and London hit, The Belle
of Amherst, starring Julie Harris as the poet Emily Dickinson, for which Ms. Harris won her
fifth Tony Award for Best Actress. Luce has twice been nominated for Writers Guild Awards for the
CBS-TV movies, “The Last Days of Patton,” starring George C. Scott, and “The Woman He Loved,”
starring Jane Seymour, Olivia de Havilland and Julie Harris. He has also written autobiographical
plays based on the lives of Lillian Hellman, Charlotte Bronte and Isak Dinesen.
Barrymore is available on DVD and Blu-ray from Image
Great Performances is a production of THIRTEEN Productions
LLC for WNET, one of America’s most prolific and respected public media providers. For 50 years,
THIRTEEN has been making the most of the rich resources and passionate people of New York and the
world, reaching millions of people with on-air and online programming that celebrates arts and
culture, offers insightful commentary on the news of the day, explores the worlds of science and
nature, and invites students of all ages to have fun while learning.
Great Performances is funded by the Irene Diamond Fund, the Anna-Maria
and Stephen Kellen Arts Fund, The LuEsther T. Mertz Charitable Trust, The Agnes Varis Trust, Rosalind
P. Walter, The Starr Foundation, The Philip and Janice Levin Foundation and public television viewers,
Barrymore is produced by Steve Kalafer, Peter LeDonne,
and Garth H. Drabinksy. Production designer: Cameron Porteous. Director of Photography: Bernard
Couture. Editor: Jean-Francois Bergeron. Composer: Michel Corriveau. Scenic designer: Debra Hanson.
For Great Performances, Bill O’Donnell is series producer; David
Horn is executive producer.
Visit Great Performances online at www.pbs.org/gperf for additional
information about this and other programs.
In 2013, WNET is celebrating the 50th Anniversary of THIRTEEN, New York’s flagship public media
provider. As the parent company of THIRTEEN and WLIW21 and operator of NJTV, WNET brings quality
arts, education and public affairs programming to over 5 million viewers each week. WNET produces
and presents such acclaimed PBS series as Nature, Great Performances, American
Masters, PBS NewsHour Weekend, Charlie Rose and a range of documentaries,
children’s programs, and local news and cultural offerings available on air and online. Pioneers
in educational programming, WNET has created such groundbreaking series as Get the Math,
Oh Noah! and Cyberchase and provides tools for educators that bring compelling
content to life in the classroom and at home. WNET highlights the tri-state’s unique culture and
diverse communities through NYC-ARTS, Reel 13, NJ Today and
MetroFocus, the multi-platform news magazine focusing on the New York region. WNET is also
a leader in connecting with viewers on emerging platforms, including the THIRTEEN Explore iPad App
where users can stream PBS content for free.
For further information contact Linda Miller, WTVP Vice President of
at (309) 495-0591 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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