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23 June 2016

Geraldine Chaplin

Versatile English-American actress Geraldine Chaplin (1944) is the daughter of Charlie Chaplin. Her breakthrough was her role as Omar Shariff’s wife in David Lean’s classic Doctor Zhivago (1965). She became an internationally respected actress with her appearances in several films by Robert Altman and her starring roles in nine films by her former partner, Spanish director Carlos Saura.

Geraldine Chaplin
Spanish postcard by Postal Oscarcolor, no. 498.

Haunting Blue Eyes


Geraldine Leigh Chaplin was born in Santa Monica, California, in 1944. She was the fourth child of legendary actor/director Sir Charles Chaplin, and the first of eight children with his fourth and last wife, Oona O'Neill (daughter of famous playwright Eugene O'Neill and author Agnes Boulton).

Among her brothers and sisters are Christopher Chaplin, Eugene Chaplin, Michael Chaplin, Josephine Chaplin, and Victoria Chaplin. She is also the half sister of Sydney Chaplin, Charles Chaplin, Jr. and Norman Chaplin.

She spent her first eight years in Hollywood, but then moved with her family to Switzerland when her father was persecuted by the U.S. government for his political beliefs. There she was educated at a boarding school and became fluent in French and Spanish. The latter she later demonstrated in many Spanish films.

When Chaplin was eight years old, she appeared uncredited in the opening scene of her father's film Limelight (Charles Chaplin, 1952). Later she attended the Royal Ballet Academy in London. When her dream of becoming a ballet dancer ended, she followed her father into the acting profession. She would play a small role in her father's last film, A Countess From Hong Kong (Charles Chaplin, 1967) starring Marlon Brando and Sophia Loren.

British director David Lean had discovered her earlier while she was dancing in Paris and he chose her to play Tonya Gromeko, the main character's wife in his film Doctor Zhivago (David Lean, 1965). Based on the Nobel Prize-winning novel by Boris Pasternak, Doctor Zhivago covers the years prior to, during, and after the Russian Revolution, as seen through the eyes of poet/physician Yuri Zhivago (Omar Sharif).

At AllMovie, Sandra Brennan describes her as many people remember her from this film: a “diminutive, willowy, and offbeat beauty with haunting blue eyes”. The film received five Oscars, and Chaplin was nominated for a Golden Globe as Most Promising Female Newcomer.

Geraldine Chaplin, Omar Sharif and Julie Christie in Doctor Zhivago (1965)
American postcard. Photo: MGM. Photo: publicity stills for Dr. Zhivago (David Lean, 1965) with Omar Sharif and Julie Christie.

Geraldine Chaplin
Hungarian collectors card by Atheneum, 1974.

Long Romance


Much of Doctor Zhivago was shot in Spain and it was there that Geraldine Chaplin began a long romance with Spanish director Carlos Saura. A year later she worked for the first time with him at Peppermint Frappé (Carlos Saura, 1967), in which she played a double role.

Chaplin starred in eight more films by Saura, including Ana y los Lobos/Anna And The Wolves (Carlos Saura, 1972), the powerful psychological drama Cría cuervos/Raise Ravens (Carlos Saura, 1976) as the mother of Ana Torrent, Elisa, vida mía/Elisa, My Life (Carlos Saura, 1977) as the daughter of Fernando Rey, and Mama Cumple Cien Años/Mama Turns a Hundred (Carlos Saura, 1979).

She has subsequently worked with some of Europe's finest directors. She played the Queen in Richard Lester's adaptation of Alexandre Dumas classic The Three Musketeers (Richard Lester, 1973) and the sequel The Four Musketeers (Richard Lester, 1975) featuring Michael York, Oliver Reed, Richard Chamberlain and Frank Finlay.

She played a pirate opposite Bernadette Lafont in the experimental film Noroit/Northwind (Jacques Rivette, 1976). In France she also appeared in Mais Ou Est Donc Ornicar (Bertrand van Effenterre, 1979) and in Le Voyage en Douce/Travels on the Sky (Michel Deville, 1980) as the sister of Dominique Sanda.

During the 1970s, Chaplin also appeared in several films of American director of Robert Altman, such as Buffalo Bill and the Indians, or Sitting Bull's History Lesson (1976) and A Wedding (1978). For her role as the chatty, shallow BBC reporter Opal in his Nashville (Robert Altman, 1975) she was once more nominated for a Golden Globe, this time as Best Supporting Actress. She received a BAFTA nomination for her role in Welcome to L.A. (1976), directed by Alan Rudolph, a protege and assistant director of Robert Altman.

Geraldine Chaplin in The Three Musketeers (1973)
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 65/75. Photo: Cinerama. Publicity still for The Three Musketeers (Richard Lester, 1973) with Chaplin as Queen Anna.

Geraldine Chaplin
Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin. Photo: publicity still for the TV film The House of Mirth (Adrian Hall, 1981).

Best Supporting Actress


Geraldine Chaplin liked to play character parts and appeared in such successful productions as the Agatha Christie mystery The Mirror Crack'd (Guy Hamilton, 1980) with Angela Lansbury as Miss Marple, the French epic Les Uns et les autres/Bolero (Claude Lelouch, 1981) with Robert Hossein, La Vie Est Un Roman/Life Is a Bed of Roses (Alain Resnais, 1983) with Vittorio Gassman, and Heartburn (Nora Ephron, 1986) starring Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson.

In 1992, she played the role of her own grandmother, Hannah Chaplin, in the biographical film about her father, Chaplin (Richard Attenborough, 1992). It resulted in her third Golden Globe Nomination, as Best Supporting Actress. In the film, she is also briefly depicted as an eight-year-old girl in a scene set in September 1952. Another highlight was her part as Winona Ryder's mother in The Age of Innocence (Martin Scorsese, 1993).

In addition to her busy film career, Chaplin also appeared on-stage and in television miniseries such as Gulliver's Travels (Charles Sturridge, 1996), as Mother Theresa in Mother Teresa: In the Name of God's Poor (Kevin Connor, 1997), and Mary, Mother of Jesus (Kevin Connor, 1999) with Pernilla August and Christian Bale. William Brailsford of The Washington Times noted about her portrayal of Mother Theresa: "Miss Chaplin gives a convincing performance as Mother Teresa, imitating her soft voice and her awkward yet charming mannerisms and re-creating that aura of piety that surrounded the 'saint of the gutters'. This remarkable actress has us in the palm of her hands early on, and she never lets go."

Nowadays, Geraldine Chaplin is still very active in the cinema. Among her more recent films are the Spanish-Mexican horror film El Orfanato/The Orphanage (Juan Antonio Bayona, 2007), produced by Guillermo del Toro, the Italian bittersweet romantic drama Parlami d'amore/Let's Talk About Love (Silvio Muccino, 2008) and the horror film The Wolfman (Joe Johnston, 2010) starring Benicio Del Toro and Anthony Hopkins.

In 2014, Chaplin was awarded as Best Actress at the Havana Film Festival for her part as an old lesbian in the Dominican drama Dólares de Arena/Sand Dollars (Israel Cárdenas, Laura Amelia Guzmán, 2014). She also appeared alongside Salma Hayek in the French drama Americano (Mathieu Demy, 2011), and with Jane Fonda in the French-German comedy Et si on vivait tous ensemble?/All Together (Stéphane Robelin, 2011). She also reunited with director Juan Antonio Bayona for the award winning disaster drama Lo Imposible/The Impossible (2012) starring Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor, and she will return in his upcoming Spanish-British fantasy drama A Monster Calls (2016) featuring Liam Neeson as the Monster.

Geraldine Chaplin and Carlos Saura had a twelve-year relationship. Later, Chilean cinematographer Patricio Castilla became her longtime companion. They married in 2006. She has two children, Shane (1974), by Saura, and Oona (1986), by Castilla. Oona is also an actress, best known for playing the role of Talisa Maegyr in HBO's hit series Game of Thrones. Geraldine Chaplin lives much of her time in Miami, Florida at her home next to the beach. In addition to her home in Miami, she also lives alternately between Madrid and Switzerland.


Trailer Doctor Zhivago (1965). Source: ccorujo (YouTube).


Trailer Cría cuervos/Raise Ravens (1976). Source: hbh2046 (YouTube).


Trailer Chaplin (1992). Source: prgwbtd (YouTube).


Trailer Sand Dollars (2014). Source: OfficialBGP (YouTube).

Sources: Sandra Brennan (AllMovie), Gloria Bond (IMDb), Wikipedia and IMDb.

1 comment:

Bunched Undies said...

Truly an amazing actress. Some of for best work, IMHO, was the Bridge at San Luis Rey.... A rather bad fim...but she was extraordinary in it.