Because Charlie Chaplin is such an iconic figure in cinema, he has appeared in multiple movies that are either about him or about other characters, although he is played by other actors in the industry. Here are some of the most popular characterizations and portrayals of Charlie Chaplin in entertainment.
Directed by Richard Attenborough, the 1992 film Chaplin stars Robert Downey Jr. as the great silent film actor. Geraldine Chaplin, who is the daughter of Charlie Chaplin, plays as Hannah Hill, Charlie’s mother. Chaplin is based on Charlie’s own autobiography that is aptly titled “My Autobiography,” as well as David Robinson’s book “Chaplin: His Life and Art.”
The film mostly focuses on his personal life, and shows the hardships and struggles that he went through from childhood up to the moment he received the Honorary Oscar in 1972. Besides Robert Downey Jr., there are children who played as Chaplin in the film, and these children are Hugh Downer, who played Charlie at the age of 5, and Thomas Bradford, who took the role of Charlie at 14. Marisa Tomei played as Mabel Normand, Chaplin’s mentor and rival at Keystone Studios, while Penelope Anne Miller played as Edna Purviance, Charlie’s love interest for more than 30 films. Downey Jr. received praise for his portrayal as Chaplin in the movie, and the acclaim earned him a nomination for Best at the 65th Academy Awards. The film was also nominated in the same awards ceremony for Best Original Score and Best Art Direction.
The Cat’s Meow (2001)
In The Cat’s Meow film released in 2001, a semi-fictional version of Charlie Chaplin is played by Eddie Izzard. The film is based on the real-life mysterious death of Thomas H. Ince, a film mogul who died from heart failure while aboard businessman William Randolph Hearst’s yacht in November 1924. What’s surprising about his death is that some people inside the yacht claim that Ince was killed by Hearst, although it was never proven to be true until today.
According to reports that were used as materials for the film, those who were in attendance at the party were writer Elinor Glyn, screenwriter Louella Parsons, and actors Marion Davies, Margaret Livingston, and Charlie Chaplin. Alongside Eddie Izzard, other actors who played the role of the people who were on the yacht were Kirsten Dunst, Edwards Herrmann, Cary Elwes, Joanna Lumley, and Jennifer Tilly. The movie was received fairly well by critics, but it was considered a box office failure during its time of release, as it was only able to gross $3.7 million in a $7 million budget.
The Scarlett O’Hara War (1980)
Directed by John Erman, The Scarlett O’Hara War was a docudrama film that was made for TV and premiered on NBC. The story of the film is about the search for the actress who will play as Scarlett O’Hara, a character featured in the 1939 movie based on the popular novel written by Margaret Mitchell title Gone with the Wind. It was shown on TV as the final episode of a 3-night NBC miniseries named Moviola: A Hollywood Saga.
Although Vivien Leigh went on to star as O’Hara in the film, the docudrama focuses more on the story behind the other actresses who were not cast as the female lead in Gone with the Wind. The Charlie Chaplin role played by Clive Revill only appeared as a minor character for the film, as Chaplin’s then-wife Paulette Goddard, played by Gwen Humble, is the one who receives more screen time since she was the first choice to play as O’Hara, but was rejected after she refuses to answer the producers on the question of whether she was married to Chaplin or not. The other actresses who were considered for the role were Miriam Hopkins, Joan Bennett, Jean Arthur, and Margaret Sullivan.
The Price of Fame (2014)
The Price of Fame is a comedy-drama film directed by Xavier Beauvois and released in Venice on August 28, 2014. Although Chaplin did not appear physically, a replica of his coffin was used as a prop and as the catalyst for the movie’s story. The Price of Fame is inspired by a true event that happened in the 1970s, when two immigrants stole Charlie Chaplin’s coffin from his grave and demanded ransom from Oona O’Neill, Chaplin’s widow.
The names of the robbers were never used for The Price of Fame; instead, Beauvois created his own characters and added personality to the robbers so that they would be more relatable to the audience, even if what they did in the movie was heinous and unforgivable. Unfortunately, The Price of Fame never shown in theaters outside of Italy and France, and it only received $372,165 in the box office while having an $8.2 million budget. Thanks to technology, you may be able to find copies of the movie today on different streaming websites.