Oscar nominee Christopher Plummer, 'Beginners' and LACMA
Christopher Plummer, who received a supporting-actor Oscar nomination Tuesday for his role in "Beginners," is an odds-on favorite to take home the golden statuette on Feb. 26. (He's already won the Golden Globe for his performance.) For local art fans, Plummer's character should hold special significance because the actor plays a retired curator from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
Plummer takes on the fictional role of Hal Fields, a 75-year-old art expert who comes out of the closet as gay, much to the surprise of his son, Oliver (Ewan McGregor). The movie follows their complicated relationship through flashbacks as Hal takes a much younger boyfriend and deals with a cancer diagnosis.
Several scenes in the movie were shot on location at LACMA. The museum said the scenes were shot over the course of one day in November 2009 in the modern art galleries at the Ahmanson Building, as well as the Balch Art Research Library.
The LACMA scenes feature a young Oliver (Keegan Boos) and his eccentric mother (Mary Page Keller) touring the museum galleries and interacting with patrons. In one scene, the mother poses in front of David Smith's "Cubi XXIII," a geometric sculpture with sharp right angles. The sculpture, which is situated near Clyfford Still's painting "1955-H," can be found at the Ahmanson Building, Room 217.
Writer-director Mike Mills has said in interviews that he based the character of Hal on his father, Paul Mills, who served as the director of the Oakland Museum of California and later became director of the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, where he worked from 1970 to 1982. The elder Mills died in 2004 at age 79.
"Beginners" isn't the first movie to feature a main character who is a LACMA employee. The 1971 film "Minnie and Moskowitz," written and directed by John Cassavetes, follows the unconventional romance between a scruffy parking attendant (Seymour Cassel) and an emotionally fragile LACMA curator (Gena Rowlands).
-- David Ng
Photos: Top, Christopher Plummer, left, and Ewan McGregor in "Beginners." Credit: Andrew Tepper / Focus Features. Middle: A scene from "Beginners" that was shot at LACMA, featuring David Smith's "Cubi XXIII." Credit: Focus Features.