Christopher Plummer to grads: “Lets hear it for the inmates”
By Marshall Bellamy
“IF I KEEP GRINNING, THEY WON’T KNOW I’M
BORED OUT OF MY SKULL.” Christopher Plummer was the
man of the hour at Tuesday’s Convocation.
Among the 6,000 graduates leaving Western with a degree this
week was distinguished Canadian stage and screen actor Christopher
Plummer, the recipient of a honorary doctor of laws degree.
Plummer, in his address after being conferred his degree on
Tuesday, reflected that many of the graduates seem to be prepared
to leave Western as a convict would want to flee prison. “You
tunneled your way out, you’re off the rock,” he
said. “Let’s hear it for the inmates.”
After Convocation, The Gazette was able to catch up with Plummer
and ask him what would be the first thing he would be doing
if he was a 22-year-old student graduating today.
And the second thing?
As he discussed his recent projects, such as his role as Aristotle
in the upcoming blockbuster epic about Alexander the Great,
Plummer expressed a regret of not being able to experience “college.”
“I never went to college. I never had the time and I’ve
regretted it all my life, I really have,” he said, pointing
to the camaraderie and the fellowship he wished to have been
a part of. “But being here today you have made me feel
that my years have fallen away and that I am one of you sitting
out there, waiting for the party to begin.”
He also imparted some wisdom to the graduating class, mentioning
the importance of leaving home and seeing the world. “My
profession has taken me all over the world; through these fantasies
I discovered life,” Plummer explained. “I guess
the moral of the story is that running away from home, or from
anywhere else for that matter, is not a crime. In fact, it’s
essential. The more you run away into the world, the more you
learn about the world.
“So throw all your caution to the winds, make your glorious
escapes, let the gates be flung open that you may burst forth
into the arena and with brave and foolish hearts, show yourselves
to the hungry lions,” he exhorted at the close of his
“With only a few minutes this morning I have to enumerate
so many extraordinary moments in the career of Christopher
Plummer,” stated Western English professor Alan Somerset
in his introductory speech for Plummer.
“If you Google ‘Christopher Plummer’ on
the Internet, you get 109,000 hits,” he noted, indicating
Plummer’s performances on screen in The Sound of Music,
The Insider and A Beautiful Mind along with his many theatrical
productions, notably his recent critically acclaimed leading
role in King Lear, all of which he said made Plummer worthy
of an honorary degree from Western.
“Today is not only a day of celebration for the graduates;
it is also a celebration of higher learning,” said Greg
Moran, Western’s Acting President and VP-academic, shortly
before the first Western graduates were conferred their degrees.
With their hard-earned higher education degrees in hand,
many graduates already had plans in mind for the future
or post-graduate worries to concern themselves with.
“I’m going to Europe, like everyone else, for
a month,” said media, information and technoculture grad
Candice Anderson, admitting if she does return she plans to
begin the search for a job.
“I’m going to do a master’s in music therapy,” explained
music graduate Maria Driessen, noting she is not in debt after
four years of classes. “I’m not too bad though,
my parents are really nice.”