By Jen Gerson
Graduating students should be treated to a stirring speech by famed actor Christopher Plummer when they receive their diplomas in November.
An almost 50-year veteran of Broadway and the Stratford festival, Plummer has been the recipient of two Tony Awards. He has also appeared in more than 100 films, including The Sound of Music and Star Trek VI.
Bruce Piercey, manager of public affairs for Ryerson, said Plummer is expected to give an inspirational message to students.
Plummer was born in Toronto in 1929, but was raised in Montreal. He started acting right out of high school and made his first appearance at Stratford in 1956.
He returned to the Stratford stage this year to take on the challenging role of King Lear in what theatre critic Jian Ghomeshi called the event of the year. Plummer will play the part of the aging king who is forced to choose between his three daughters to his own dismay.
Plummer also made an appearance at the Toronto International Film Festival in the opening night gala presentation of Atom Egoyan’s Ararat, a film about the genocide of 1.3 million Armenians by the Ottoman Turks between 1915 and 1923. Plummer plays a customs officer who helps a character named Raffi understand the history of his people.
The film has sparked protest by Turks who deny the genocide, or claim that the number of people killed has been greatly exaggerated.
“We’re very, very proud to be able to honour [Plummer],” said Ryerson’s president Claude Lajeunesse.
“The theatre school here at Ryerson is extremely good. It’s very well-known. Some of the best people have gone to that school.
“So honouring Christopher Plummer is an area where Ryerson is so active and has such a great reputation is very good.”
Film achievements aside, Plummer’s first love is Shakespeare. Said Piercey. “It’s real cool for us to have him here.”