Childhood & Early Life
Tessa Charlotte Rampling was born on February 5, 1946, in Sturmer, Essex, England. She was the younger of the two daughters in the family. Her elder sister, Sarah, committed suicide at the age of 23. Charlotte was shaken by her sister’s death, as she was extremely close to her.
Charlotte’s mother, Isabel Anne, was a painter, and her father, Godfrey Rampling, was a ‘British Army’ officer. Her father was also an ‘Olympic’ gold medalist. She completed her early education in England. However, due to her father’s job in the army, the family moved around quite a lot, mostly across Europe.
Charlotte spent the formative years of her life in Versailles, France, and attended the ‘Jeanne d'Arc Académie pour Jeunes Filles.’ While still in school, she earned a few modeling assignments. After graduating high school, she learned acting at the ‘Royal Court,’ London.
She continued modeling while learning acting. She appeared in several advertisements as a model. One of her very first modeling projects was for ‘Cadbury,’ and that brought her immense fame. She was accidentally discovered by a casting agent who saw her walking down a street in London. She was offered a very small role in the film ‘The Knack ...and How to Get it’.
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In 1965, Richard Lester’s film ‘The Knack ...and How to Get It’ became her unofficial foray into films. She played an uncredited role of a water skier in the film. Despite the miniscule length of her role, she did not go unnoticed and was immediately offered a much better role in the 1966 film ‘Georgy Girl,’ which became a major hit. Charlotte played the second lead in the film and earned the attention of several filmmakers.
In 1967, she starred in the first leading role of her career, with the film ‘The Long Duel.’ The film, set in the British-occupied India of the 1920s, featured her as the love interest of actor Yul Brynner. In 1968, she forayed into Italian films with superstar Franco Nero in ‘Sardinia Kidnapped.’ With such major roles, Charlotte had marked a grand arrival in the European movie arena
In 1967, she turned to TV and appeared in a single-episode role in ‘The Avengers,’ which featured her as a gunfighter named ‘Hana Wilde.’ In 1969, she co-starred with Sam Waterston in the romantic drama ‘Three.’ She then bagged a role opposite Robert Blake in the film ‘Corky.’
She received great critical response for her role in the Italian–German film ‘The Damned.’ She played a young Jewish woman sent to a Nazi concentration camp. Although the film was received well by the critics and the general public, it ran into several controversies. However, Charlotte gained immense respect among filmmakers, and several offers rained down on her.
In 1971, she was dragged into controversy when she appeared naked in the film ‘Vanishing Point.’ The controversial scene was later removed from the American theatrical print. However, Charlotte received praises for being a gutsy actor.
In 1972, she portrayed the historical character of ‘Anne Boleyn’ in the British period epic ‘Henry VIII and his Six Wives.’ The big-budget film was a major box-office and critical success. These successes made Charlotte one of the most sought-after female actors of her time. However, she claimed in a few interviews that she was unhappy. She also made people aware of the fact that most people in the European film industry were drug addicts.
In the 1970s, Charlotte played adult roles and forayed into erotic cinema for a while. In 1974, she played a leading role in the Italian psychological erotic film ‘The Night Porter.’ She was pulled into controversy when she appeared naked for an issue of the men’s magazine ‘Playboy’ that year. *The same year, she appeared opposite Sean Connery in the science-fiction film ‘Zardoz.’ Known for her fearlessness while giving interviews, Charlotte stirred a mild controversy when she claimed that Sean Connery was a flirt and that he tried to seduce every young and pretty woman he came across.
Through the mid-1970s, she appeared films such as ‘Foxtrot’ and ‘Orca.’ She became a household name in the US when she appeared in the 1975 film ‘Farewell, My Lovely,’ a film which was based on the famous Raymond Chandler novel of the same name.
In 1980, acclaimed director Woody Allen grew fond of her and offered her the main lead in his romantic drama ‘Stardust Memories.’ The film’s success paved her way to stardom.
In 1982, she gave another critically acclaimed performance in the film ‘The Verdict.’ The film was directed by legendary director Sidney Lumet and starred Paul Newman. It turned out to be one of the most successful films of Charlotte’s career and was nominated for five ‘Academy Awards.’
In 1984, she starred in the successful French film ‘Long Live Life,’ and in 1986, she appeared in the film ‘Max, Mon Amour.’ In the latter, she played a woman in love with a chimpanzee. It is now known as a cult French film.
In the next few years, she starred in films such as ‘Great Expectations’ and ‘The Cherry Orchard.’ She eventually slowed down on the number of films she did and focused on the quality. In the 2000s, she appeared in films such as ‘Spy Game,’ ‘Under the Sand,’ ‘Lemming,’ and ‘Basic Instinct 2.’
Some of her recent films are ‘Assassin’s Creed,’ ‘Melancholia,’ and ‘The Eye of the Storm.’ She has also appeared in the series ‘Dexter,’ playing a key role.
Charlotte Rampling married New Zealand actor Bryan Southcombe in 1972. Soon, they had a son, Barnaby. The couple divorced in 1976. Charlotte later married French music composer Jean-Michel Jarre and gave birth to another son, David.
Her second marriage lasted 23 years. The marriage was dissolved when she came to know about her husband’s multiple affairs. In 1998, she got engaged to a French journalist and businessman named Jean-Noël Tassez. The couple lived together until his death in 2015.
Charlotte has suffered from depression several times in her life. Depression runs in her family, and it also caused the death of her sister, Sarah.