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Charlotte Rampling, OBE (born 5 February 1946) is an acclaimed Englishmarker actress. Her career spans four decades in English-language as well as Frenchmarker and Italianmarker cinema.


Early life

Rampling was born in Sturmermarker, Essex, the daughter of Anne Isabelle (née Gurteen), a painter, and Godfrey Rampling, an Olympic gold medalist and army officer. She attended Jeanne d'Arc Académie pour Jeunes Filles in Versailles and St. Hilda's Schoolmarker, a boarding school in Busheymarker, Hertfordshiremarker, England.


After beginning her career at age seventeen in a commercial role and as a model, Rampling's first screen appearance was uncredited as a water skier in Richard Lester's film The Knack …and How to Get It in 1965, which was followed a year later by the role of Meredith in the film Georgy Girl. After this, her acting career blossomed in both English and French cinema.

Young Rampling was sexy in a lithe, boyish way favoured by the times. Despite an early flurry of success, she told The Independent, "We weren't happy. It was a nightmare, breaking the rules and all that. Everyone seemed to be having fun, but they were taking so many drugs they wouldn't know it anyway."

Rampling has often performed controversial roles. In 1969, in Luchino Visconti's The Damned (La Caduta degli dei), she played a young wife sent to a concentration camp. This role redrew Rampling entirely as mysterious, tragic, even sinister. "The Look" as co-star Dirk Bogarde called it, became her trademark. In 1974's The Night Porter she portrayed a former concentration camp inmate entangled in a sado-masochistic relationship with her former guard, played by Bogarde.

The actress gained recognition from American audiences in a remake of Raymond Chandler's detective story Farewell, My Lovely (1975) and later with Woody Allen's Stardust Memories (1980) and particularly in The Verdict (1982), an acclaimed drama directed by Sidney Lumet that starred Paul Newman.

Rampling credits François Ozon with drawing her back to film in the 2000s, a period when she came to terms with the death of her oldest sister Sarah, who, after giving birth prematurely in 1966, committed suicide at 23. "I thought that after such a long time of not letting her be with me," she told The Guardian, "I would like to bring her back into my life." The character she played in Ozon's Swimming Pool (2003), Sarah Morton, was named after Sarah. For most of Rampling's life, she would say only that her sister had died of a brain hemorrhage; when she and her father heard the news, they agreed they would never let Charlotte's mother know the truth. They kept their secret until Rampling's mother died in 2001.

At 59, Rampling acted in Laurent Cantet's Heading South (Vers le Sud), a 2005 film about female sexual tourism. She plays Ellen, a professor of French literature and single Englishwoman, who holidays in 1970s Haitimarker to get the sexual attention she does not get at home.

On her choice of roles, Rampling says, "I generally don't make films to entertain people. I choose the parts that challenge me to break through my own barriers. A need to devour, punish, humiliate, or surrender seems to be a primal part of human nature, and it's certainly a big part of sex. To discover what normal means, you have to surf a tide of weirdness."

The actress has continued to work in sexually provocative films such as Swimming Pool and the Basic Instinct 2003 sequel starring Sharon Stone. More recently, she portrayed the mother of Keira Knightley's character in the title role in 2008's The Duchess.

A recent French language interview with Rampling appears in Nicolaevitch (2008).

Personal life

In 1972, Rampling married the actor and publicist Bryan Southcombe. They were widely reported to be living in a ménage à trois with a male model, Randall Laurence, and had one child, Barnaby Southcombe (now a successful television director) before divorcing in 1976. In 1974, Rampling was quoted by the syndicated columnist Earl Wilson as saying: "There are so many misunderstandings in life. I once caused a scandal by saying I lived with two men [...] I didn't mean it in a sexual sense [...] We were just like any people sharing an apartment." In 1978, Rampling married the French composer Jean Michel Jarre and had a second son, magician David Jarre. She also raised stepdaughter Émilie Jarre, now a fashion designer. The marriage was publicly dissolved in 1997 when she found out via tabloid newspaper stories about Jarre's affairs with other women and had a nervous breakdown. She has been engaged to Jean-Noël Tassez, a French communications tycoon, since 1998. On 6 April 2009, it was reported by The Daily Mail that Rampling had hired lawyers to try to block the publication of a biography about her written by a close friend.


Year Film Role
1965 The Knack …and How to Get It (uncredited) Water Skier
Rotten to the Core Sara Capell
1966 Georgy Girl Meredith
1967 The Long Duel Jane
1968 Sequestro di persona Christina
1969 Target: Harry Ruth Carlyle
The Damned Elisabeth Thallman
Three Marty
1971 Vanishing Point Hitchhiker (scenes deleted)
Addio, fratello crudele Annabella
The Ski Bum Samantha
1972 Henry VIII and His Six Wives Anne Boleyn
Corky Corky's Wife
Asylum Barbara
1973 Giordano Bruno Fosca
1974 Zardoz Consuella
Caravan to Vaccares Lila
The Night Porter Lucia Atherton
1975 Yuppi du Silvia
La Chair de l'orchidée Claire
Farewell, My Lovely Helen Grayle
1976 Foxtrot Julia
Sherlock Holmes in New York (TV) Irene Adler
1977 Un taxi mauve Sharon
Orca Rachel Bedford
1980 Stardust Memories Dorrie
1982 The Verdict Laura Fischer
1983 Infidelities TV Flaminia
1984 Viva la vie! Catherine Perrin
1985 On ne meurt que 2 fois Barbara Spark
Tristesse et beauté Léa Uéno
1986 Max, Mon Amour Margaret Jones
1987 Angel Heart Margaret Krusemark
Mascara Gaby Hart
1988 Paris by Night Clara Paige
D.O.A. Mrs. Fitzwaring
1989 Rebus Miriam, contessa di Du Terrail
1992 La Femme abandonnée (TV) Fanny de Lussange
1993 Hammers Over the Anvil Grace McAlister
Asphalt Tango Marion
1994 Murder in Mind (TV) Sonya Davies
Time Is Money Irina Kaufman
1995 Samson le magnifique (TV) Isabelle de Marsac
1996 La Dernière fête (TV) La marquise
Invasion of Privacy Deidre Stiles, Josh's Attorney
1997 The Wings of the Dove Aunt Maude
1999 Great Expectations (TV) Miss Havisham
The Cherry Orchard Lyubov Ranyevskaya
2000 My Uncle Silas (TV Series) Sylvia Featherstone
Signs & Wonders Marjorie
Hommage à Alfred Lepetit
Aberdeen Helen
Sous le sable Marie Drillon
2001 The Fourth Angel Kate Stockton
Superstition Frances Matteo
Spy Game Ann Cathcart
2002 Embrassez qui vous voudrez Elizabeth Lannier
2003 I'll Sleep When I'm Dead Helen
Swimming Pool Sarah Morton
Imperium: Augustus (TV) Livia
The Statement Nicole
2004 Jerusalemski sindrom
Immortel Elma Turner
The Keys to the House Nicole
2005 Lemming Alice Pollock
Vers le sud Ellen
2006 Basic Instinct 2 Milena Gardosh
Désaccord parfait Alice d'Abanville
2007 Angel Hermione Gilbright
Caótica Ana Justine
2008 Deception Wall Street Belle
Babylon A.D. Noelite High Priestess
The Duchess Lady Spencer
2009 Boogie Woogie Emille
Life During Wartime Jacqueline
2010 Never Let Me Go TBA

Further reading

  • Nicolaevitch, S. 2008. Charlotte Forever. Citizen K International, 46 (Spring): 244-253.


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