Berlinale Bloggers 2019
Filming is a way of surviving
The British Actress Charlotte Rampling, this year’s recipient of the Honorary Golden Bear, looks back on her lifetime of filmmaking.
By Joseph Walsh
Charlotte Rampling was 17-years-old when she started acting. After a few lessons at the Royal Court, she burst onto screens with Silvio Narizzano’s British invasion hit Georgie Girl only two years later. Fifty-three years and 130 films later she is now being awarded the Honorary Golden Bear at the 69th Berlinale.The actress has a very long history with the city that goes back beyond her own birth – her father, Godfrey Rampling, won a gold medal at the 1932 Berlin Olympics. Rampling is also a regular to the festival, winning the Silver Bear in 2015 for her performance in Andrew Haigh’s 45 Years.
The list of directors she has worked with is staggering. Woody Allen, Lars Von Trier, Francois Ozon, Alan Parker, John Boorman, Luchino Visconti, Nagisa Ôshima – to name just a handful of the filmmakers she has collaborated with over the years. As well as collecting her Golden Bear award, she also took time to sit down with film historian Simon Peter Cowie, for a public discussion as part of the Berlinale Talents – a week-long series of events. This year the theme was mistakes.
Not to play but to beIn her long career, Rampling has kept mistakes to a bare minimum. Even when she’s appeared in a duff title, her standards never slip. On handling mistakes, she said, “You become a bit cleverer and warier about how you can find rewarding parts in films that you might think won’t be that great.” She added, “You look for that something in there that will give you the feeling that you aren’t cheapening yourself.” Rampling’s approach to roles is to inhabit the character – ‘being’ rather than ‘acting’. “I have only worked with a character that could be me. I have to imagine it enough,” she explained. For Rampling, it’s about being chosen. That feeling of working with a director who really sees her performance. “It’s about this moment in time where you can absolutely be something. You don’t have to be afraid at all. You can simply be,” she explained.
She never asked to be in films. Instead, Rampling says it was a case of being in the right place at the right time. That’s not to say she doesn’t enjoy it. Despite the ups and downs, fears and contradictions she still loves the craft. But for Rampling, it’s been more than a career. As she says, “I think that filming for me is a way of life – a way of surviving”.