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April 4, 2024

Publicity Photos of Robert Downey Jr. as Charlie Chaplin for “Chaplin” (1992)

Chaplin is a 1992 biographical comedy-drama film about the life of English comic actor and filmmaker Charlie Chaplin. It was produced and directed by Richard Attenborough and stars Robert Downey Jr., Marisa Tomei, Dan Aykroyd, Penelope Ann Miller and Kevin Kline. It also features Charlie Chaplin’s own daughter, Geraldine Chaplin, in the role of his mother, Hannah Chaplin.

“One of the emotional high points of the film, the reunion scene between Charlie and his mother Hannah, played by Charlie’s actress daughter Geraldine Chaplin, you know it was our first meeting, but all I needed for the content of that scene was to look into her eyes because they were the ‘Chaplin eyes.’” – Robert Downey Jr.

The film was adapted by William Boyd, Bryan Forbes and William Goldman from Chaplin’s 1964 book My Autobiography and the 1985 book Chaplin: His Life and Art by film critic David Robinson. Associate producer Diana Hawkins got a story credit. The original music score was composed by John Barry.

The film underperformed at the box office, grossing $12 million against a $31 million budget, and received mixed reviews from critics; Downey’s titular performance, however, garnered critical acclaim and won him the BAFTA Award for Best Actor along with nominations for the Academy Award for Best Actor and Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama.

In an interview with Vanity Fair, Downey Jr. delved into how actor and acrobat Johnny Hutch helped him learn about Charlie Chaplin and his choreography, saying:

“Chaplin was an absolute gift and a real bear of a challenge for someone who’s 25 when they started prepping to do it, but there were all these people that were still around — just barely still around. Johnny Hutch, who came from The Benny Hill Show and he knew the guy who really had done these choreographed things at the Karno Theater with Chaplin, so he actually had access to some of the books of really what the choreography was for some of this stuff. And he drilled me incessantly for months and months and months.”

Downey Jr. then explained that he became an expert on Chaplin while filming, and he wanted the movie he was making to be as accurate as possible. The director of the film however, Richard Attenborough, had to remind the actor that they were making a movie, not a documentary. He said:

“I employed every single way I could try to show up for that role. When you’re 25 and you’re given the keys to the kingdom, you’re going to probably to come out of center. Maybe out of fear, maybe out of confidence. And for me — at that point, not to boast — I was as much of a Chaplin expert as anyone involved in the project. And I was making corrections to the things that were factually and historically inaccurate, to which Attenborough said, ‘But poppet, we’re making a film, not a documentary.’”

The movie took audiences on a journey from Chaplin’s humble beginnings in south London through his early days in British vaudeville, his silent movie career in America and his late masterpieces. It explored his turbulent personal life, which saw four marriages and an enforced exile from the US, all the way to the point where he returned to receive an honorary Oscar in 1972.


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