One of the most controversial actresses of her time, Charlotte Rampling – known for playing sexually charged roles throughout her career – is not about to slow down any time soon. Some of her better known movies include: Georgy Girl (1966), The Damned (1969), The Night Porter (1974), Farewell my Lovely (1975), Stardust Memories (1980) and The Verdict (1982). More recently she starred in The Eye of the Storm (2011), earned an Emmy nomination in 2012 for Restless, and now at age 69, she stars in the upcoming drama, 45 Years, which earned her a Best Actress award at the Berlin Film Festival and nomination for the same category at both the Oscars and The Golden Globes. She plays opposite British actor Tom Courtenay, a couple celebrating their 45th wedding anniversary whose lives are suddenly altered when a haunting development disrupts their marriage in a myriad of ways.
Kate Mercer, played by Rampling, is planning a party to celebrate their wedding anniversary. One week before the celebration a letter arrives for her husband, Geoff, containing news that the body of his first love has been discovered, frozen and preserved in the icy glaciers of the Swiss Alps.
Kate, rocked by ghosts from the past, keeps planning the party, all the while feeling the crushing discomfort of knowing her husband’s mind is elsewhere. As revelations about Geoff’s former life come to light and with it, a personal longing to relive it, the couple’s future is left hanging in the balance.
Both Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay give a spectacular performance in 45 YEARS. Their on-screen partnership is an intimate, moving and deeply beautiful portrait of a marriage that has, up until this point, triumphed unshaken. Winning Best Actor and Best Actress awards at the 2015 Berlinale Film Festival, 45 YEARS is a haunting reminder that all partnerships are made up of two souls, each with their own identities, pasts and personal trials. A true testament to the power of love, memory and deep connections, 45 YEARS is a touching insight into just how long, even the strongest of relationships, can survive.
Rampling was born in England, has been married twice and is mother to three children. Always outspoken, Rampling has some witty comments about sex, marriage and getting older.
THE FILM IS ABOUT SECRETS WITHIN A MARRIAGE. HOW WOULD YOU FEEL IF YOU FOUND OUT A SECRET THAT YOUR LOVED ONE HAD KEPT FROM YOU?
Well, you don’t really tell the girlfriend you meet that you had a very profound relationship with another woman, do you? So the timing of being able to say things goes so you don’t just say it because it is not appropriate really but it’s not a secret either. She was perfectly aware that he had another relationship with a woman and that this woman died. So you think, ‘Well, life goes on.’ So it’s not per se a secret but it’s something that is sort of sitting there slightly unresolved or just hasn’t really been given its chance to have space. It’s when the letter arrives and the body has been found that suddenly this chasm opens up. It wasn’t necessarily a chasm but it becomes a chasm because it’s suddenly opened up.
YOU’RE A VERY BEAUTIFUL WOMAN AND YOU’RE NOT WEARING MUCH MAKEUP IN THIS FILM, SOMETHING THAT MOST AMERICAN ACTRESSES CERTAINLY WOULDN’T DO. WHY DO YOU THINK THERE’S SUCH A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE BEAUTY CULTURE IN HOLLYWOOD VERSUS HOW IT IS INTERNATIONALLY?
I think in Europe we’re always valued by the content rather than the form. When you read literature you don’t really want a sort of a fancy, pretty form. You want to actually understand the depth of what you’re reading. In Europe I certainly feel the privilege of this more than America. I think America seems to be very frightened by the idea that we change but of course we’re going to change. How can we stop change? We can’t stop change. We can’t stop it through plastic surgery; we can’t stop it through anything. We’re not going to stop changing. We’re not going to stop changing from the moment we’re born ’til the moment we die. I’ve always felt that if I can through cinema, through doing what I’m doing, if I can actually take people through that journey and by not changing myself physically but just developing what I perhaps have to give as a human being that would be interesting. That’s what I’m hoping to do and 45 YEARS gave me that big challenge.
DO YOU THINK A LOT ABOUT THE PAST? WHAT ARE YOUR FEELINGS? DO YOU HAVE ANY REGRETS?
Yeah, I’m sure I do but I don’t think really about the past very much. The past is huge for everybody and the only thing I would say if I think about the past was that I’ve done the best I could with what I had. So, in terms of regrets I will say no, I don’t regret but I only did what I could at each time and even if that was not very much and even if that was pretty awful that’s all I could do. I’m not going to bash myself up for eternity saying that I should have done better. Of course we could always do that so I sort of worked that one out quite soon to bash yourself up is one of the worst things you can do. My father always used to say it. The one thing you don’t is beat yourself up. I am a result of what I’ve done in my past.
IN THIS MOVIE I THINK ONE OF THE FIRST TIMES WE SEE MATURE CHARACTERS MAKING LOVE ON THE SCREEN.
Trying to (laughs). It’s been done a bit better (laughs).
DOES IT BECOME MORE AWKWARD TO DO THESE SCENES AT AN OLDER AGE?
Well, sexuality for me is only beautiful when it’s young so, I mean, I can do it fine, yeah, why not? (Laughs) but I wouldn’t want to watch me doing it. I’m glad we didn’t have to watch too much of it, you know, and embarrass you because it’s true, isn’t it? I love older people. I am an older person. There’s nothing wrong with this but some things are just not so great to watch when we do.
THEY NEVER KISS ON THE LIPS AT LEAST. THEY HAVE SEX, IT DIDN’T WORK, BUT EVEN WHEN THEY HAVE THEIR ANNIVERSARY THEY DON’T KISS EACH OTHER. SO WHAT DOES THAT SAY ABOUT A RELATIONSHIP AFTER FORTY-FIVE YEARS?
They’re British so… (laughs) I mean, some people do; some people don’t, you know. Don’t make a big thing about it (laughs).
YOU LIVE IN PARIS AND I WAS WONDERING CAN YOU TELL ME A LITTLE BIT WHAT YOUR LIFE LOOKS LIKE? WHAT DO YOU LOVE TO DO WHEN YOU DON’T WORK?
I’m sure just the same as everybody. I’m often asked this question. I sort of think well, what do they think? Why do they think film people are especially different as people? Do they think that we just sort of lounge around in silk pyjamas and eat chocolate and eat grapes, have people offer us things (Laughter)? We’re just ordinary people.