Charlie Plummer, The Next-Gen River Phoenix

Charlie Plummer, The Next-Gen River Phoenix

A child actor-turned-leading man, Charlie Plummer is quickly becoming Hollywood's next big thing.

A child actor-turned-leading man, Charlie Plummer is quickly becoming Hollywood's next big thing.

Photography: Luke Gilford

Styling: Sean Knight

Text: Paul Schrodt

This article appears in the pages of VMAN39, available on newsstands now. Order your copy now at vmagazineshop.com

Charlie Plummer is late to his interview because he’s been shopping at Bed Bath & Beyond. The fresh-faced 18-year-old actor just moved into his first very own apartment in Manhattan’s Upper West Side, and he’s still adjusting to the responsibilities it requires. “I’ve never shopped for home goods before, so I had my parents on the phone to talk me through what to get,” he explains apologetically.

It’s one of many firsts for Plummer. After starting out as a child actor playing small TV parts, he’s entered the rarefied orbit of award-winning films just as he hits manhood. He plays the kidnapped 16-year-old John Paul Getty III in All the Money in the World, alongside screen giants like Michelle Williams, Mark Wahlberg, and Christopher Plummer (no relation).

A few years ago, Plummer considered dropping acting to pursue his passion for football management, but now has conviction about staying in Hollywood. “I had one of the most incredible experiences in my life on a film set,” he enthuses of All the Money in the World, recalling conversations with Williams, director Ridley Scott, and Romain Duris “about what I really want to be doing with the rest of my life.” He adds, “I learned from people who have been doing this for decades; that, to me, is the greatest thing in the world. So the idea of saying, I’m going to separate myself from any possibility of doing that, is really hard.”

He was practically born for the job. The son of theater veterans Maia Guest and John Plummer, his parents put him in local stage productions while he was growing up in Cold Spring, New York. Six shows later, he asked to do it professionally. “I remember I told my manager when I first met her—who I’ve been with since I was 10—I never want to do film or television for my entire career.” Shortly after, he ended up on HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, starring Steve Buscemi. He commuted into NYC so often, he had to transfer to an “expensive private school” in the city for children with artistic pursuits. “My parents are so supportive. They said, Okay, we’ll figure that out,” he remembers.

Plummer hasn’t been in a physical school for years, but his roles have provided their own education. He reunites with Buscemi under director Andrew Haigh (Weekend, 45 Years) in the acclaimed indie drama Lean on Pete, in theaters March 30. Plummer stars as a teenager from a broken home who forms a tight bond with a racehorse that ultimately leads to a dangerous situation. His boyish face is still and quiet, but expresses internalized grief and hardship far beyond his years. Critics have deservedly compared him to the late River Phoenix. Plummer avoids reading press, but confesses that the reference led him to watch every single Phoenix film he could get his hands on, starting with Stand By Me. “My mind was just blown. I’d never seen a young actor do what he did in that film,” he says.

Meanwhile, Plummer’s performance in Lean on Pete is the kind of breakout role that could pave the way to becoming a leading man, not unlike Phoenix. Yet he’s cautiously optimistic. Buscemi gave him critical advice during the last couple weeks of shooting the movie, when his costars had left and he was alone in the middle of the desert. “I was really nervous about it,” Plummer says, “and he told me, Just enjoy it, appreciate it, because you might never get this experience again.”

COAT GUCCI
Credits: Grooming: Nikki Providence Photo Assistant: Jack Juliar Stylist Assistant: India Madonna Location: Erwin Hotel  

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