|Born||Benedict John Greenwood
31 July 1969
Windsor, Berkshire, England
Ben Chaplin was born Benedict John Greenwood on July 31, 1970 in Windsor, Berkshire, England, the son of Cynthia (née Chaplin), a teacher, and Peter Greenwood, a civil engineer. He has two sisters, Sarah and Rachel, and one brother, Justin. Chaplin found his calling as a teenager when he appeared in a school play. Chaplin attended the Princess Margaret Royal Free School and, at the age of 17, enrolled at the famed Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London Guildhall School of Music and Drama. He pursued his early acting career between odd jobs, working various clerical jobs and even as a statistician for the London Transport Authority. Chaplin started to land roles in BBC dramas and various British films. He took his stage name after his mother's maiden name.
In 1992, Chaplin landed his first break starring alongside James Purefoy and Jason Flemyng in "Bye Bye Baby" for Channel Four. James Ivory and Ismail Merchant cast him as a servant in The Remains of the Day. He reunited with the filmmakers for his breakthrough screen role as the socially inept Con Wainwright in Feast of July (1995). Continuing to advance his career, Chaplin garnered rave reviews as Tom Wingfield in Sam Mendes' stage production of The Glass Menagerie (1995) in London, while winning the hearts of many as the strange and agoraphobic Matthew Malone on the British sitcom, Game On (BBC2, 1995–98). On American soil, Chaplin was cast by director Michael Lehmann to play a photographer caught between two women (Uma Thurman and Janeane Garofalo) in The Truth About Cats & Dogs (1996), a distaff spin on the classic tale of "Cyrano de Bergerac". Displaying an easy charm and affable screen presence, Chaplin won plaudits for his performance and soon found himself in demand, though many subsequent roles offered were just variations of the same character.
In danger of being typecast as the dithering Brit, Chaplin shifted gears and stepped into the boots of Montgomery Clift to essay the fortune-hunting Morris Townsend in a retelling of Washington Square (1997), co-starring Jennifer Jason Leigh. Despite rave reviews for the sterling performances from all the major players, which included Dame Maggie Smith and Albert Finney, the film failed to generate much interest with audiences. Chaplin next joined an all-star cast - which included many heavy-hitters like Sean Penn, John Travolta, Nick Nolte, John Cusack, Woody Harrelson and many others - to play Private Bell in Terrence Malick's lyrical remake of The Thin Red Line (1998). Chaplin emerged as one of the film's key figures, playing a grunt who wistfully recalls his times with his wife (Miranda Otto) as a means of coping with life on a battlefield. Despite his exemplary work, the actor found many critics overlooking his contribution to the film, as most concentrated on Malick's efforts. Meanwhile, after numerous delays, Lost Souls (2000) - which was filmed in 1998 - finally hit theaters. Cast as a skeptical crime writer who has been marked for Satanic possession by a woman (Winona Ryder) who herself fought off the devil, Chaplin managed to maintain his dignity despite the inanity of the screenplay.
Chaplin fared much better as a low-level bank clerk who gets more than he bargained for when he selects a Russian mail-order bride (Nicole Kidman) in Birthday Girl (2001), which earned good reviews after hitting the international festival circuit. He next joined forces with Sandra Bullock to play her relatively inexperienced partner aiding an investigating into a series of killings in Murder by Numbers (2002). After co-starring opposite Michelle Yeoh in the Taiwan-made actioner The Touch (2002), Chaplin played George Villiers, 2nd Duke of Buckingham in the romantic drama, Stage Beauty (2004), set in the world of British theatre in the 1660s. Chaplin next had a supporting role in Chromophobia (2005), a dark thriller about a bourgeois family coming apart at the seams that also starred Penélope Cruz, Ralph Fiennes and Ian Holm. He had a small role in The New World (2005), Terrence Malick's look at the affair between Pocahontas (Q'Orianka Kilcher) and Captain John Smith (Colin Farrell). In the comedic drama Two Weeks (2006), Chaplin was one of four siblings who return home to say goodbye to their ailing mother (Sally Field). Following a supporting role in the children's fantasy The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep (2007), Chaplin portrayed prominent English stage and film actor, George Coulouris, in Me and Orson Welles (2009), directed by indie filmmaker Richard Linklater.
Chaplin received an Olivier Award nomination for Best Supporting Performer in The Glass Menagerie, and a Tony Award nomination for Best Featured Actor in The Retreat from Moscow. Recent theatre appearances include This Is How It Goes at the Donmar Warehouse in 2005, The Reporter at the National Theatre in 2007 and Farewell to the Theatre at the Hampstead Theatre in 2012. He appeared in Dates on Channel 4 in 2013, and recent film roles include the role of Cinderella's father in Cinderella (2015)
- The Remains of the Day (1993)
- Feast of July (1995)
- Game On (1995)
- The Truth About Cats & Dogs (1996)
- Washington Square (1997)
- The Thin Red Line (1998)
- Lost Souls (2000)
- Birthday Girl (2001)
- Murder by Numbers (2002)
- The Touch (2002)
- Stage Beauty (2004)
- Chromophobia (2005)
- The New World (2005)
- Two Weeks (2006)
- The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep (2007)
- Me and Orson Welles (2009)
- Dorian Gray (2009)
- London Boulevard (2010)
- Ways to Live Forever (2010)
- Mad Dogs (2011–2013)
- Twixt (2011)
- World Without End (2012)
- Dates (2013)
- The Wipers Times (2013)
- The Secrets (2014)
- War Book (2014)
- The Book of Negroes (2015)
- Cinderella (2015)
- Mad Dogs (U.S.) (2015)
- "Today in History". San Diego Union. 20 July 2009. Retrieved 14 September 2010.
- Births, Marriages & Deaths Index of England & Wales, 1916–2005.; at ancestry.com
- "Ben Chaplin Biography (1970–)". Filmreference.com. Retrieved 2015-02-18.
- Wallace, Debra L (3 March 2002). "Question Time: Interview – Ben Chaplin: Britain's sexiest export". Sunday Mirror.
- "The truth about Ben: Unleashing charm on and off screen, Chaplin ponders big-time film fame". Thefreelibrary.com. Retrieved 2015-02-18.
- Britain gets back a national asset
- Ben Chaplin Interview 11 September 2009