STOCKHOLM (Reuters Life!) - Charlotte Rampling’s portrayals of women struggling with loss, lies and lust earned her a reputation as a screen siren in European cinema.
The British actress, best known to film lovers for her Nazi-themed, sado-masochist performance in 1974’s “The Night Porter,” has been enjoying a career Renaissance in recent years with a string of European arthouse films.
Rampling was in Sweden to accept a Lifetime Achievement award at the Stockholm Film Festival when Reuters caught up with her to talk about her career choices and also her latest film, a British costume drama.
Q: In your latest movie, “The Duchess,” you play what is maybe not a classic Rampling part. What attracted you to the film?
A: Saul Dibb (the director), who came to see me twice in Paris, and I talked about it over six months and in the end I said yes because I was free at that time. I didn’t have any other films and I thought that sometimes it is good to also be part of a mainstream, sort of very beautiful classical film. And with a film like this... it is maybe nice to put myself a little more into the eyes of the public.
Q: What do you normally seek in a part?
A: I decided very early on that the mainstream world wasn’t the way I wanted to go on in the world of cinema. I sought out directors who were making films in different ways and with subjects that weren’t necessarily commercial.
Q: Why is that?
A: Because that was how I wanted to express myself, through that medium in that way. I wanted to be in a sort of permanent Ingmar Bergman film. I wanted to vibrate and show feeling and not just to be in entertainment movies. So obviously that limited a lot, so I didn’t work nearly as much as a lot of actors — but I turned a lot of work down because that was not where I wanted to be.
Q: Are you a big Ingmar Bergman fan?
A: Yes, very big. I was amazed when I discovered in my 20s that film could be like that, and that is why I went to Italy because films were like that too. Italian directors were doing films, not quite Bergman, but exploring different ways of making cinema.
Q: Any particular Bergman movie you like?
A: There are lot of very different types of work. Like ‘Persona’ and ‘Cries and Whispers’ that are really, really intense. But there are a lot of comic films too. Like Strindberg — I did a (August) Strindberg play, Dance of Death, in Paris a few years ago. Strindberg is funny too — it’s terrifying but funny too. Swedes are very wild — wild and dark. You all seem very nice and all but underneath there is wildness.
Q: In your latest project you play the mother of Jesus on a Brueghel painting...
A: The Polish film I’ve just made is with Lech Majewski, a conceptual artist, filmmaker, musician. It’s depicting the painting, and brings to life everything that happens in that day when Jesus is crucified. Brueghel paints it like it is just another day where people are just doing their thing and in the background is Christ.
Q: What can you tell us about your upcoming project with director Todd Solondz?
A: I can’t really talk about it. He asked us not to. But I mean, it is his world (laughs), it carries on, with rather bizarre creatures.
Editing by Paul Casciato