Carmen Chaplin: “Art is part of my family and me”

“Could we speak English?” is the kind initial request of this beautiful actress who was born in London and educated in France. She knows Spanish, but as she once confessed, she “is a weekend Spaniard”. She belongs to the third generation of the Chaplin family. Her grandfather, Charlie, as she tells him when she mentions him, was the world famous English actor and filmmaker Charles Chaplin. His father, Michael, is the second son of Chaplin and his fourth and last wife, Oona O’Neill, the offspring of playwright Eugene O’Neill. Meanwhile, his aunt Geraldine is the famous actress, and his mother, Patricia Betaudier, a plastic artist.

The reason for the interview is his participation in the fifth feature film by Argentine Gastón Solnicki, “A Little Love Package”, thus, in English, in which he stars alongside the Greek Angeliki Papoulia. The film does not hide its precise origin: the ban on smoking indoors in bars in the city of Vienna. Although it deals with the relationship of two women while they visit properties to acquire, the role of money in everyday life and the occasional links between people in public places. The film had its international premiere at the Berlinale and won the prizes for Best Director at BAFICI, and Best Film at the Porto Festival.

News: I understand that you already knew Gastón Solnicki, but how did you get involved in the project?

Carmen Chaplin: That’s how it is. We have known Gastón for twenty years, I was in one of his first short films and we are still friends. When he asked me to be in this movie, to be honest, I had no idea what it was about. I know very well that he works a lot with everything that he has to do with improv, but I was immediately enchanted.

News: Precisely, the film escapes all the narrative rules of conventional cinema, why did you want to get involved?

Charlie: It’s just that I love being part of Gastón’s film world! Although he is an uncompromising filmmaker in his artistic vision, he never fails to be a very funny, intelligent and open person. In short, it is a true joy to collaborate in this universe that he proposes.

News: In the film the use and monetary value in today’s world is discussed, what do you think about this?

Charlie: Money is essential in many ways, however, “A Little Love Package” It is a good example of what the power of people and their own desire can also do. Gastón made his film with very little financing. That is, his strong desire to create allowed him to bring together a group of people to fulfill his vision, beyond the budget he had.

News: It seems that her character, that of the apartment saleswoman, values ​​and defends the building and architectural past that the old apartments still preserve but that today are seen as not very functional. What do you think about it?

Charlie: I think modern architecture can be very beautiful, but when you look at the detail that was put into building in the past, there was a sense of beauty and craftsmanship that sadly has all but disappeared today.

News: He was with his aunt Geraldine, in an edition of the Mar del Plata International Film Festival. Apart from the link with Gastón, what else do you know about Argentine cinematography?

Charlie: Well, the director Alejandro Chomsky was an old and dear friend and I was very sad when he passed away last year. I also found the film “Zama” by Lucrecia Martel incredibly beautiful, in which Rui Poças, the Portuguese cinematographer, participated.

News: Would you like to film with other Argentine filmmakers and even in our country?

Chaplin. Of course! I like working with creative and inspiring authors, no matter where they come from. I love acting, but I prefer not to have an agent and not to use social media, so my involvement in movies as an actress is based on chance encounters.

News: With his sister Dolores, they will vindicate the gypsy origins of their famous grandfather, in the documentary “Charlie Chaplin. A Man of the World”. How was he generated and what stage is he in?

Charlie: The documentary stems from my father’s passion for gypsy music and culture, and the discovery of a mysterious letter from a gypsy man that Charlie kept locked in his bedroom. We are in post-production right now and the film will be finished in early May 2023, ready for festivals before it opens in theaters.

News: Was it difficult to break into a creative area that was previously dominated by a family legend?

Chaplin: I’ve always been interested in directing movies, but I found it quite daunting with Charlie as my grandfather.. Now I feel very lucky to write, direct and collaborate on different films.

News: Beyond all your artistic family lineage, what is art to you?

Charlie: My mother is a painter, my father is an actor and a writer, all my brothers and sisters are artists in some way, so I guess it’s a part of me.

News: She is a really very beautiful woman. In her career, was that an advantage, a conditioning factor or neither?

Charlie: When I was in my early twenties, I worked with the beautiful and energetic English actress Julie Christie, and one day she told me to appreciate my beauty as she never did her own when she was very young. I can understand her sentiment now, as I was so critical of my appearance as a young actress that as I get older, it seems like a huge waste of time to have done it.

News: What do you think of the #MeToo movement and the Iranian women’s revolution?

Chaplin: I believe in the sovereignty of the body and fervently in freedom, no government, religion or institution should dictate what you do with your body. Of course, the women of the Iranian revolution are extremely brave.

News: When you are not filming or producing, where do you live or where do you like to spend more free time and what do you spend it on?

Charlie: I have moved to Lisbon, which is a beautiful city, but in the end I would like to live by the sea. Right now that I’m in Andalusia, I go to the beach bars because eating with a view of the sea makes everything delicious. I love going to the theater and would like to go more often, one of my favorite performances was Kristin Scott Thomas as Irina in Chekhov’s “The Seagull” or anything with Bill Nighy in the cast. I also love writing and always have a new script to work on. But I really appreciate spending time with my daughter, my husband and my family.

News: Finally, to your daughter Uma Bhalla Chaplin, what advice would you give her if she wants to be an actress?

Charlie: My daughter is ten years old and she enjoys being a girl. I would never encourage her to be a professional actress at such a young age as it robs you of your childhood. Fame is not a natural way to exist and the younger you are, the more destabilizing it can be.

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