A character in search of an author
A tribute to Amanda Plummer
»I never like being Amanda Plummer.«
And who can blame her. The characters she’s created and the roles she’s inhabited have taken her on a journey through the extraordinary heights and depths of the human experience and its limitless potential and secrets – too vast and varied for just one person. ‘Amanda Plummer’ is a mere vessel for them.
For her roles on stage, she’s dazzled NY critics and won Tony Awards. For her roles on television, she’s won Emmy’s and a Golden Globe nomination. For her roles on screen, she’s been nominated in every genre category – BAFTA’s, American Comedy Awards, Fangoria Chainsaw Awards – and won Film Critics Awards and a Saturn from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror. Yet out of character, in her role as Amanda Plummer – she goes unrecognized. And for an actor renown for her ability to completely transform herself, this is the ultimate compliment. Sidney Lumet compared her to a young Marlon Brando, calling her wellspring of ›unfathomable‹ talent. Her »Pulp Fiction« producer, Lawrence Bender, likened her to a ‘chameleon you can’t take your eyes off’. And with an uncanny gift for flawless accents, Peter O’Toole likened her imitative skills to that of a mynah bird. Physically, emotionally, and vocally, in each role – Amanda is invisible.
As the child of theatre luminaries, disappearing into roles came naturally. Her father, Oscar-winner Christopher Plummer, is one the greatest stage actors in the world. Her mother, Tammy Grimes – a Tony Awardwinning Broadway star. Her father left when she was 3, and with her mother busy on stage, she was often left alone with nannies. As far back as she can remember, Amanda was invisible in an imaginary world she filled with characters she would create and embody.
She was named after a character in Noel Cowards »Private Lives«, in a role her mother won a Tony Award for – Amanda. And the first role she landed when she tried out for plays at Middlebury College in Vermont was the very same. It was the first time Amanda would play Amanda. In her 1st film role as in 1981s »Cattle Annie and Little Britches«, The New Yorker’s Pauline Kael wrote, »The only other actress I’ve seen make a movie debut so excitingly, weirdly lyrical was Katherine Hepburn.«
From orphans to eccentrics, from frail to fierce, she is unrecognizable from role to role. And after a decade of brilliant turns on stage and screen, the role of the shy deluded object of Robin Williams’ affection in 1991’s »The Fisher King« earned her mainstream movie attention. Her trigger-happy wanna-be robber in 1994s »Pulp Fiction« earned her a cult following, and as a bisexual serial killer in 1996s »Butterfly Kiss« she raised her own bar and both terrified and mesmerized audiences with her brutally raw and unflinchingly honest presence. With over 100 screen credits to her name, from indie dramas to blockbusters, she continues to draw from that wellspring of unfathomable talent.
She doesn’t act – she absorbs. She lays herself bare. For each character she rids herself of her own identity. »I have to empty myself so that I am not present.« And with each role she steps into the invisible footprints of a character that will fill her, and ventures into their undiscovered countries. But not as Amanda. Great acting defies analysis. And Amanda Plummer defies. She’s not the girl next door, but she could sure make the girl next door look pretty interesting.
From the imagination of a child emerged a character called Amberstwyth – her most ethereal creation, not limited by form. Protean and emotionally free. Not unlike the Artist. Perhaps years from now, someone will step into the invisible footprints of a character called Amanda Plummer. The author of characters too vast and varied to be contained by just one person. And delight in being Amanda Plummer.