Christopher Plummer Regretted Turning Down a Role in ‘The Lord of the Rings’

When it came to his choices in roles, the late Christopher Plummer had dozens of options at his fingertips. He worked until his very last days starring in everything from Beginners to Knives Out. With over six decades on Broadway and in Hollywood, the actor did not have many regrets when it came to his long career.

However, he did very much regret turning down one central role in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Christopher Plumme
Christopher Plummer | George Pimentel/WireImage

Christopher Plummer never wanted to become an actor

Though he was renowned and recognized for his outstanding work on the stage and on the screen, Plummer never dreamed of becoming an actor. In fact, the Tony Award winner initially went to school to study music, specifically the piano. He soon realized that life as a pianist would not make him happy.

“I thought seriously of becoming a concert pianist,” he told Playbill. “It was very lonely and very hard work.” With a love for the arts, the Candian-born actor soon found his love for the stage.

In the 1950s, he was discovered by English producer and director Eva Le Gallienne. She helped launch Plummer’s career in the New York theater scene with 1954’s The Starcross Story. From there, his career skyrocketed.

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Christopher Plummer hated ‘The Sound of Music’

One of Plummer’s most recognized roles was in the 1965 Hollywood musical, The Sound of Music. In the film, Plummer portrayed Captain Von Trapp, an ill-tempered man who eventually falls in love with Maria (Julie Andrews), a young nun who is hired to care for his seven children. To this day, it is still one of the most successful movies of all time. Unfortunately, Plummer hated it.

Plummer told the Boston Globe that he was “a bit bored with the character” of Captain von Trapp. The New York Times revealed that he’d called the movie, “The Sound of Mucus.”  Plummer got candid about why he never loved the movie or the role in his 2008 memoir, In Spite of Myself.

“I had become a pampered, arrogant young bastard, spoiled by too many great theatre roles,” he wrote.“I still harbored the old-fashioned stage actor’s snobbism toward moviemaking.”

Christopher Plummer regretted turning down the role of Gandalf in ‘The Lord of the Rings’

As much disdain as Plummer felt for his work in The Sound of the Music, he deeply regretted turning down the role of Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Plummer actually grew up reading J.R.R. Tolkien’s stunning tale, and he had an affection for the powerful wizard Gandalf. However, he was not too keen on spendings several years in New Zealand. “I thought there are other countries I’d like to visit before I croak,” he said on Conan.

Though he did seem to have some twinges of regret about not putting on the white cloak and hat, Plummer praised Ian McKellen for his warm portrayal saying, “I might have been a little cold and serious.”