Charlotte Rampling, an actress in search of truth
Despite having been directed by some of the greatest filmmakers on the planet, Charlotte Rampling has always remained open to the idea of working with young directors who have the audacity to call upon She. This is what happened with The Past Found, the first feature film by New Zealand director Matthew J. Saville in which the 77-year-old actress slips into the shoes of a former war photographer battered by life.
At the end of the line from Paris, Charlotte Rampling laughs that she almost refused the offer of Matthew J. Saville because she was not interested in going to shoot a film on the other side of the world, in New Zealand. But the script sent to her by this young filmmaker whom she did not know at all intrigued her to the highest degree.
“The screenplay was very surprising, very simple, and told a very strong story that moved me a lot, confides the legendary British actress who was revealed to the cinema in the mid-1960s in films like The Knack… and how to get it (by Richard Lester) and The Damned em> (by Luchino Visconti).
“So I contacted the director to tell him that I had found his screenplay very beautiful, but as I did not know his work, I would have liked to meet him. He told me he was ready to come to Paris to see me. So he came from New Zealand with his producer. They stayed for three days and we worked on the script together. This made me realize that I wanted to work with this young man. It was a risk, yes, but in this job, you always run a risk when you embark on a new project.”
The past rediscovered(Juniper, in the original English version) features a 17-year-old teenager (George Ferrier) who has just been expelled from his school. To punish him, his father forces him to take care of his grandmother (Rampling), a former war photographer confined to a wheelchair and drowning her sadness in alcohol. These two broken beings will eventually find the will to live again by spending time together.
Charlotte Rampling says she drew on her own experience to compose this character. As with every role she accepts to play, the quest for truth was at the heart of her approach.
“In general, when I accept a role, it is because I felt a form of call, she explains. It's always been that way because I like to put some kind of background and personal character to my characters, things that I know I could paint with a brush of truth. What I've always liked about the idea of being an actress is that you stay very close to who you are. When we play, we just have a different name, a different profession and a different story. But it's still me hiding behind my characters.”
Back in Dune 2
Living for several years between London and Paris, Charlotte Rampling spent time in Budapest last year to shoot the sequel to the sci-fi film Dune, directed by Quebecer Denis Villeneuve. The actress takes over the role of Reverend Mother Mohiam.
“What I like about Denis is that he makes big Hollywood productions as if he were making a small independent film, she observes. He has a very human and intimate approach with his actors and the members of his film crew. He has a poetry in him that makes a big blockbuster like Dunebecomes a film with a lot of poetry in it. That's why, after seeing his previous films, I was very intrigued to work with him.”
Interesting fact: Charlotte Rampling had been approached, during the 1970s, to star in the adaptation of Dune that Alejandro Jodorowsky wanted to make. The filmmaker wanted to entrust him with the role of Lady Jessica.
“It didn't happen and it was ultimately David Lynch who adapted Dune at the time, recalls she. The fact that Denis arrives more than 40 years later with a new adaptation project and offers me to play the Reverend Mother is the culmination of a long quest story with this book that I really liked when I discovered it in the 1970s.”
Charlotte Rampling didn't want to reveal too many details about the filming of Dune 2. However, she confirmed that her character would be more present in the second film. We'll know more when the film is released next November.
►The Past Found (Juniper), playing since yesterday.