Who hasn’t heard of Charlotte Rampling?

by Alexandra Coroi –

– translated by Sebastian Ispas –

With a career spanning over 50 years, Charlotte Rampling has been in over one hundred films. This year, during the Sibiu International Theatre Festival, the actress will receive a star on the Sibiu Walk of Fame.

Born in 1946 in Essex, England, Rampling was introduced to the world of cinema in the mid 60s, at a time when the country was vibrant with freedom, creativity, and revolutionary energy. Her first imporant role was in the romantic comedy “Georgy Girl”, where she played the part of young Meredith, whose carefree life of partying is interrupted by an unexpected pregnancy. In 1974, Rampling landed the role of Lucia in “The Night Porter”, directed by Liliana Cavani, a picture which would propel her onto the international stage, but would also bring forth its fair share of criticism. In the controversial film, Lucia is a Holocaust survivor who is re-joined with Max (Dirk Bogarde), an ex-SS officer who had been both her torturer and protector in the concentration camp. The two resume their sadomasochistic relationship started in the camp, and the viewer gradually discovers, though the extremely graceful vision of the director, a love story both ritualistic and toxic, abusive and dehumanizing or, conversely, a brutal spectacle of reality, an unveiling of the underpinnings of trauma and suffering.

In a 2019 interview, after receiving The Golden Bear for Lifetime Achievement, Charlotte Rampling emphasized the importance of this film and how it had left an impression on her entire journey through the world of cinema.

‘Truth is that we do not know what happens to people in exceptional situations. To me this film is symbolic of who I am also in cinema. It’s very much the film that has led me into a world where you can’t avoid what is going to have to happen to you. And this is something very powerful. This is as strong as any kind of relationship should be. It might be strange, perverse, a bit dirty and it might be a bit weird but it’s there.’

Known for her varied roles, Charlotte Rampling fully immersed herself with inquisitiveness in the worlds imagined by Luchino Visconti, Sidney Lumet, Woody Allen, François Ozon and others. The actress frequently mentions that she prefers working with European directors, because they allow her freedom and intimacy, as opposed to the Hollywood film industry, where everything is stricter and more planned out.

When she thought she was too young to play her character in “The Damned”, Visconti told her: ‘I see it behind your eyes. You are any age. How old is the soul? The soul has no age.’ With her irreverent smile, with her penetrating gaze of a hypnotic, grey blue tint, Charlotte Rampling is as natural as always, wearing her 75 years on her sleeve with enviable grace.

‘Age is a day in the life. You wake up and you are one day older. And you either accept it or you don’t. If you accept it, your life is a bit easier.’

Her curiosity is the basis of her ability to play a plethora of diverse roles, from mysterious femme fatales to strong villains to ordinary women in extraordinary situations.

In “Swimming Pool”, as well as in “Under the Sand”, both directed by François Ozon, Rampling brings tremendous authenticity to the parts of two ordinary women, rapidly shifting the viewer’s atten­tion to their particular traits, not only through the script, which is bathed in unpredictability, but more so through her capa­city to live the role to its fullest, to become completely un­masked and to draw us along with her, in the heart of the story.

François Ozon, himself a chameleon of film genres, says about Rampling that ‘she’s never really ordinary, she always has something mysterious about her. […] she has a face on which you can project many feelings’.

She received her first Academy Award nomination in 2016, for her role in “45 Years”, where Kate (Rampling) struggles with her husband’s past as it bursts into their lives, changing everything she thought she knew about him. How can an old flame shake up the solid foundation of a long-lasting couple and how can someone who’s been dead for almost half a century wedge themselves into the humdrum of daily life? In this instance as well, Rampling, with that same grace and inner vibration, succeeds in granting her character sensitivity and the need for love, for safety for something familiar.

In “Asphalt Tango”, Rampling takes part in a road movie directed by Nae Caranfil. In it she plays Marion, a young entrepreneur who enlists 11 women from Romania willing to make a name for themselves on the stage of a cabaret in Paris. Caranfil depicts with copious amounts of humour the social reality of ’90s Romania, the sense of personal freedom and the excitement of making it abroad. Marion is the symbol of the West, the independent woman who doesn’t need a stable relationship, she is a force of femininity and feminism at a time in which women had only begun to dream and to savour the freedom granted by the fall of communism.

During the Sibiu International Theatre Festival 2021, the audience will have the chance to witness Rampling on stage alongside the celloist Sonia Wieder-Atherton, in the production “Shakespeare-Bach”, a delicate duet in which Shakespeare’s sonnets intertwine with Bach’s music.

‘Theatre is a whole experience from beginning to end and you see the whole of the actor the entire time so there’s nothing to distract you. A few changing scenes but that’s all. The theatre performance is very satisfying because once you go on stage you have to get right through the end and whatever happens, you can’t stop. So, there’s an exceedingly healthy challenge in that. It’s like running a spring race. You just have to get to the end.’ – Charlotte Rampling.


“SHAKESPEARE – BACH / La Main du Temps”, with Charlotte Rampling and Sonia Wieder-Atherton, one of the most awaited representations of the 28th edition of the Sibiu International Theatre Festival, will have its world premiere in Romania. 

Charlotte Rampling and Sonia Wieder-Atherton will meet Romanian audiences on Thursday, 26 August, at 7 p.m., at the Big Hall of the “Radu Stanca” National Theatre in Sibiu. A production between France and Great Britain, “SHAKESPEARE – BACH / La Main du Temps” brings on stage sonnets by William Shakespeare, music suites by J. S. Bach, Charlotte Rampling – voice, and Sonia Wieder-Atherton – cello, “So that the light of a meeting may shine/The rhythm of two languages/The song of their voices”.
‘Every so often, the memory returns, bringing along faces, names, fragments of stories and sounds. And thus, the sonnets of Shakespeare emerge – at times distant, at times intense.





(article published in the special edition of Capital Cultural magazine, No. 27)

**Photo: Rampling Charlotte/Sylvie Lancrenon.