Born in Great Britain February 5, 1946, actress Charlotte Rampling is the daughter of a British colonel who went on to become a NATO commander and relatively successful painter. Arguably an overachiever, her father also won gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics (4X440 Relay). Perhaps it is this genetic tenacity which helped propel Charlotte Rampling to become one of our era’s most gifted actors. Rampling’s illocutionary skill constitutes a classic example of an actress grounding her characters in the context of real-life existence. She seems incapable of delivering one false gesture.
After attending the Jeanne d’Arc Académie pour Jeunes Filles in Versailles and the prestigious St. Hilda’s school in Bushey, England, Rampling worked as a model before making her film debut as a water skier in The Knack…and How to Get It (1965), director Richard Lester’s acclaimed sex comedy.
Her breakout role, however, wouldn’t come until a year later, when she performed opposite Lynn Redgrave as the bitchy but beautiful roommate of the title character in
(1966). Georgy Girl set the standard for Rampling’s further work, which, while not always popular with mainstream audiences, could never be conceived of as mundane. Quite the contrary, in fact — from her role as a hitchhiker in Vanishing Point (1971) to her portrayal of Ann Boleyn in Henry VIII and His Six Wives (1972) to her performance as a woman in love with a chimpanzee in Max, Mon Amour(1986), Rampling became notorious for her bold, meaningful characters.
Luchino Visconti’s The Damned (1969) is no exception to the rule (the incestuous political drama was originally rated X in the United States); neither was her work with Sean Connery in John Boorman’s sci-fi adventure Zardoz (1973). That said, Rampling’s most intense role was, arguably, that of a concentration camp survivor who is reunited with the Nazi guard (Dirk Bogarde) who tortured her throughout her captivity in 1974′s The Night Porter.
In 1975, Rampling starred opposite Robert Mitchum in the post-noir detective thriller Farewell, My Lovely, and offered a passionate rendering of a violent heiress confined to a mental institution in the French/Italian/German collaboration La Chair de l’Orchidée. The actress’ success continued to grow throughout the later half of the 1970s which included a turn with Max von Sydow and Peter O’Toole in Foxtrot, and in 1980 Rampling played a lead role alongside Woody Allen in Stardust Memories, the follow-up to the much-hailed Manhattan.
Shortly afterward, Rampling could be seen as the deceitful Laura in director Sidney Lumet’s courtroom drama The Verdict (1982) with Paul Newman. Rampling spent much of the mid-’80s filming in Europe; one of her most notable performances during that time was as the mysterious mistress of a murder victim in the French crime thriller On Ne Meurt Que Deux Fois, though she would return to America for Alan Parker’s Angel Heart. The heavily praised voodoo-themed crime thriller featured Rampling as an ill-fated woman whose heart is irrevocably extracted from her body.
Though her fondness for murder mysteries and historical political dramas still manifested itself through her performances in Paris by Night (1989) and Invasion of Privacy (1996), Rampling also found luck in several moderately well-received comedies, including Time is Money (1994) and Asphalt Tango (1997). However, her name was launched back into the A-list after her performance as a complicated aunt in the multi-award-winning The Wings of the Dove with Helena Bonham Carter.
In 2000, Rampling’s portrayal of a phenomenally distraught widow in Under the Sand was praised by critics and audiences alike as one of the best performances of the year. After participating in several documentaries and the espionage thriller Spy Game (2001), Rampling starred as a conservative mystery writer in director François Ozon’s Swimming Pool – the role would win her an award for Best Actress from the European Film Academy in 2003.
After her success with Swimming Pool, Rampling went on to play supporting roles in The Statement (2003) and Immortel Ad Vitam (2004).
Despite her international success, acting wasn’t Rampling’s first choice of performance art: she wanted to be a singer. While teenagers, she and her sister Sarah performed as a duo in cabarets before her father forbid them from continuing. Decades of acting were to follow, but finally, more than forty years later, Rampling moved back to music.
In 2002, after four years of cajoling and training, her first music CD was released titled, “Comme Une Femme” with Michel Rivgauche and Jean-Pierre Stora. Selling with great success, she followed with another album called Les Grains de Sable.
Continuing her personal and professional transformations, Rampling made her theatre debut to rave reviews in 2003 starring in “Petits Crimes Conjugaux” at Paris’ Theatre Eduoard VII. In 2004, she continued to delight stage audiences this time in London with her lead role in Pierre Marivaux’ “The False Servant“.
In 2007, she appeared in a French version of The Dance of Death ( La Danse de Mort) by August Strindberg at the Theatre Madeline in Paris.
Charlotte Rampling’s work in cinema has continued to flourish with Keys to the House, Lemming, Heading South, Desaccord Parfait, Angel, Caotica Ana, Babylon A.D., Never Let Me Go, The Duchess, The Eye of the Storm. Please refer to the filmography section, for a complete listing of her astonishing body of work.
For many film actors the transition to the stage can be virtually impossible. Not so for Rampling. In any language, her theatre success makes it clear her presence is not reliant on film for its power or success.
In 2013, Charlotte appeared in the final Season 8 of the HBO series Dexter, playing Dr. Elizabeth Vogel and introducing her to a new generation of fans.
Also in 2013, she appeared on stages in Switzerland, France and Spain reciting selected poetry of Sylvia Plath. The tour has continued on to Montreal, Belfast and London in 2014. The well-received Sylvia Plath presentation will continue on to New York and Moscow in 2015. Possibly more cities will be added to the list. Stay tuned!
Also, in the fall of 2014, Charlotte became “the face” of NARS cosmetics. The beautiful black & white image of Charlotte looking very chic was taken by Francois Nars, himself. NARS line of cosmetics can be found at very fine cosmetic stores. The advertisements can be seen is fashion magazines such as Vogue and Elle.
In 2015, BBC2 will have Charlotte Rampling starring in a mini-series called London Spy and in the second season of Broadchurch.
Also in 2015, will bring the much-anticipated film 45 Years, for which Charlotte won the Silver Bear award for Best Actress at the Berlinale Film Festival. Critic’s around the globe are unanimous that 45 Years may be her finest hour. See complete list of accolades below for her marvelous work in 45 Years. Most recently, the monumental nomination by the Academy of Arts and Sciences for Best Actress!
If you are in New York, April 22 -26, 2015, please take this rare opportunity to see Charlotte in person at The Park Avenue Armory performing various poetry by Sylvia Plath. This performance has won critical success and audience raves throughout Europe!
Charlotte stars in a theatrical production called Neck of the Woods in Manchester, July 2015. An experimental, avant-garde play in which fairy tales are given a new twist. Ideal casting given her lupine eyes and resonant voice.
October 2015, saw the release of her book, an autobiography in French called Qui Je Suis ( Who I am ). It is available on Amazon and Amazon France. At this time, it is disponible uniquement en français. We can but hope she will release an English version someday.
The European Film Academy awarded Charlotte with the honorary Lifetime Achievement Award for her outstanding body of work. The award was presented in Berlin on December 12, 2015. Charlotte also won Best Actress for her role as Kate Mercer in 45 Years.
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