• Golden Globe Awards

Oral History: Charlotte Rampling and Hollywood

For over 40 years the HFPA has recorded famous and celebrated actresses, actors, and filmmakers. The world’s largest collection of its kind – over 10,000  items – is now in the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences Margaret Herrick Library.  In this excerpt from 2003 – the year François Ozon premiered his iconic Swimming Pool in Cannes – Charlotte Rampling looks back at her career and her relationship (or lack thereof) with Hollywood.

“When I first started, the actresses I looked up to were Katharine Hepburn and in England Vanessa Redgrave at the time. I’ve never really wanted to be intimidated by people. Fought against that because I’ve always thought that everyone is equal. There are some people we can learn from, but to be intimidated by somebody means that you have an element of fear and I didn’t want that kind of fear to come into any part of me I sort of get quite fierce and I look impenetrable which is obviously not the case, but it’s a form of protection. We should have heroes and icons and people that we admire and love and want to aspire to but for me the reality is different.

I have done movies in Europe rather than in Hollywood. I did decide to go and live in Hollywood in 1970 because I did have a film offer and I thought well, maybe I’ll just go see what it’s like to live there but it just didn’t suit me. I just felt uneasy there and the roles and things. Maybe if I’d stayed it could have worked with studios but I am not a very ambitious person, and there’s a lot of ambition in Hollywood and it’s all about career moves and staying power when times are rough and there’s no work. But just being there and going to interviews and casting and getting your name around … I just couldn’t hack it.

I if you’re not prepared to play that game then there’s not much point in staying in Hollywood. I’m English. There are all these American actresses my age that were doing it too. I would have had to fight double-hard and I just wasn’t prepared to use all those weapons. I didn’t want to put myself in that position. I did get to know Robert Mitchum a bit, a very cultured guy, and a man of great integrity. He always knew what he was doing. He had coherence in the best sense of the word. Someone said Mitchum smokes the best pot. He’s my hero too. Everyone laughed.”