Monday 20 September 2010

Portrait: Geraldine Chaplin

Recent photo of Geraldine Chaplin by German photographer Peter Lindbergh

Geraldine Chaplin as Tonya in David Lean's Dr. Zhivago (US/ Italy, 1965)

Apart from having one of the most angelic, vulnerable and beautiful, faces ever to grace the silver screen, Geraldine Chaplin is one those actresses I most admire: First of all, for the seven films she made with former partner Carlos Saura, most of which come close to being masterpieces; for the fact that even though she's the daughter of what possibly was the world's most famous actor-director, Charlie Chaplin, she has always remained level-headed and down-to-earth; for having the ability to speak three languages accent-free; for the ability to make on screen vulnerability almost palpable; for the general choice of her roles which are always non-mainstream and non-commercial; and, last but not least, for having withstood the facelift idiocy (and I hope with a face as amazing and classically beautiful as hers, she will continue to do so!).

Geraldine Chaplin in the late 1960s/ early 70s

Geraldine Chaplin was born in 1944 in Santa Monica to Charlie Chaplin and his wife Oona O'Neill, daughter of the playwright Eugene O'Neill. As her father was forced to leave the US as a result of the witch-hunt, the family made their home in Vevey/ Switzerland, where Geraldine lives to this day. Or rather, where she lives again, for during her relationship with Spanish director Carlos Saura from 1966 to 1979, Geraldine lived primarily in Madrid. Although Geraldine had become a sort of muse for Saura as he cast her in virtually every single one of his films from that period, Geraldine also did a lot of work in the US during that time, collaborating with Robert Altman and his former assistant, Alan Rudolph, on a number of occasions. Geraldine continues to be active to this day, and due to her language skills, she is able to work in a variety of countries though it seems her affinity to Spain and her proclivity to work in independent film, often take her to that country more than to, say, the UK or France, never mind that she speaks English and French accent-free.

In Robert Altman's Nashville (US 1975)

With co-star Leonor Watling in Pedro Almodovar's Talk to Her (Spain 2002)