From the NY Times Sunday, Oct 26, 2014
Interviews by Camille Sweeney, photographs by Erik Madigan Heck
View the entire article here with more remarkable people and their comments about careers and aging.
Christopher Plummer, actor, 84, at his home in Connecticut.
In 2012, Plummer won the Academy Award for best supporting actor for his role in ‘‘Beginners,’’ making him the oldest actor to win the award.
What has surprised you the most about being your age?
Well, the fact that there were no surprises surprised me. I don’t feel any older now or less flexible than I did when I was 60 or 55. It just goes on.
Was this information that was passed along to you, or did you have to find it out yourself?
Well, most of my contemporaries and friends have kicked the bucket. An awful lot of them are gone. But the ones whom I admired, for instance John Gielgud, was working when he was 96. And I remember thinking, Good God, that’s amazing.
I keep hearing that staying in shape is crucial past a certain age. Anything else?
Yes. And so is doing the work. It uplifts you. The idea that you’re doing what you love. It’s very important. It’s very sad that most people in the world are not happy with their lot or with their jobs and they can’t wait to retire. And when they retire, it’s like death. . . . They sit at home and watch the television. And that is death. I think you’ve got to continue. We never retire. We shouldn’t retire. Not in our profession. There’s no such thing. We want to drop dead onstage. That would be a nice theatrical way to go.
Ellsworth Kelly, artist, 91, at his studio in Spencertown, N.Y.
Last year, President Obama presented Kelly with the National Medal of Arts.
What’s different about your life now that you’re older?
When I was 79, I asked my doctor, ‘‘I’m 79 and you say I’m in good health, what should I expect from the 80s?’’ And he said: ‘‘If you haven’t got any of the Mayo diseases, you’re pretty good. You can slide right through.’’ And I said, ‘‘What about the 90s?’’ And he said, ‘‘Well . . . we’ll talk about that.’’ But I didn’t sail through exactly. What happened five years ago is I discovered that painting with turpentine, which I’ve been doing since the 1940s, had ruined my lungs. So I’ve been on oxygen ever since.
I don’t travel now. That’s the big thing. But I’m here [in Columbia County, N.Y.], and I love it. Each year I’m very surprised by the color. . . . It’s one thing about getting older, you see more. . . . Everyday I’m continuing to see new things. That’s why there are new paintings.
What are your days like now?
I’m in the studio everyday. I draw a lot. . . . I chose plants because I knew I could draw plants forever. I want to work like nature works. I want to understand the growth of plants and the dead leaves falling. Oh, how I connect with that!