Christopher Plummer

The Canadian actor plays Roger Bannister's coach in Four Minutes, which debuts on ESPN2 on Oct. 6
September 18, 2005

SI: Your character is a composite of Bannister's several coaches. How did you approach the part?

Plummer: I watched film on Franz Stampfl [Bannister's coach when he broke the four-minute mile in 1954, pictured below with Bannister]. And the writer [SI's Frank Deford] did enormous research on the language coaches use when speaking to runners.

SI: How familiar were you with Bannister's story?

Plummer: My wife saw him win that race. I lived in England in the swinging 1960s. It was after Hillary and Everest. Then came Bannister. We were all cognizant of his rise to fame.

SI: What are the origins of your lifelong affair with tennis?

Plummer: I've played since I was five. I play singles, but it will be doubles soon; it's getting a bit dodgy out there.

SI: Is Roger Federer worthy of a stage production?

Plummer: Federer is almost too perfect to be dramatic. I compare him to Manolete, the bullfighter who achieved such perfection that the Spanish found him dull.

SI: What about McEnroe: The Play?

Plummer: His story might repel audiences. They would leave in droves [laughs]. He's great now: He has a sense of humor about himself and is a wonderful commentator.

SI: Memorable partners?

Plummer: Sean Connery, when he was making the Bond movies. I had much longer experience on the court. But he was a very good athlete and picked things up very quickly.

SI: It must be sweet to own James Bond.

Plummer: Oh, I know. I felt very smooth. --Richard Deitsch

PHOTOPAUL FENTON/ZUMA PRESS, INC. (PLUMMER) PHOTONORMAN POTTER/CENTRAL PRESS/GETTY IMAGES (STAMPFL AND BANNISTER)

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)