Christopher Plummer on his new series ‘Departure’ and acting in different formats

September 16, 2020, 5:00 PM UTC

Christopher Plummer hopes audiences will enjoy watching a “good yarn” when his new series Departure debuts on Peacock Thursday.

The series, which centers on the disappearance of a passenger plane, stars Archie Panjabi (The Good Wife) as investigator Kendra Malley and Plummer as her mentor Howard Lawson. “When I was offered this, I was extremely pleased because he’s an interesting character. He doesn’t appear very often,” Plummer tells Fortune, while adding a droll “thank God.”

“But the very fact that he is someone who seems to be not what people expect is interesting and fascinating.”

In addition to also being a fan of one of the series’ executive producers, Christina Jennings, Plummer was also drawn to the role because of the relationship between Malley and Lawson. “She’s absolutely wonderful—my God, what a good actress,” says Plummer of Panjabi. “She doesn’t act at all, she is.”

Plummer had fewer interactions with other cast members while filming the show, though he describes them all as “professional” and as a “joy to work with.” But ultimately, he filmed the majority of his scenes for the first season with Panjabi.

“Poor thing—she has to put up with me,” he says.

From left: Christopher Plummer as Howard Lawson, Claire Forlani as Janet Freeh, Kris Holden-Ried as Dominic Hayes, and Archie Panjabi as Kendra Malley in “Departure.”
Shaftesbury—Greenpoint Productions via Peacock

The 90-year-old actor—himself an avid viewer of tennis (including the just-concluded U.S. Open), skating, skiing, and nature shows on the likes of PBS—acknowledges that the mystery featured in his new series is a topic that is fairly “fashionable” on television these days, largely owing to recent airline accidents that “don’t go away, unfortunately.”

“There’s always some other enormous tragedy that happens in our time,” he says. “That is very now—it’s not old-fashioned, or old news. It continues to happen. I think it’s fairly contemporary and very modern.”

Plummer, known for movie roles ranging from The Sound of Music to last year’s hit Knives Out, has been acting for decades in a variety of mediums. He’s taken a more uniform approach to acting in various formats over the years.

“In the very beginning, television was slightly different from the movies—very slightly. If you just be as truthful as you possibly can, then it doesn’t matter what medium you’re shooting in—it’s the same for all mediums,” he says.

A second season of Departure is currently filming—and thanks in part to the coronavirus pandemic, “they’re going to come here to my house and shoot me,” says Plummer, who’s looking forward to filming an upcoming scene.

“I wish that everything could happen in my house,” he says, laughing. “Come on—you’re all welcome.”

Departure debuts on Peacock Thursday, Sept. 17.

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