The Inventory: Charlotte Rampling

The distinguished acting career of Charlotte Rampling, 66, began in the 1960s. She received an OBE in 2001 for services to acting and UK-French cultural relations.

What was your earliest ambition?

I wanted to travel – to be something like a photojournalist, a reporter at large, go to places and pick up information and bring it back.

Public school or state school? University or straight into work?

State schools, a private Catholic school in France and St Hilda’s in Bushey, another private school. I loved the school in France once I’d mastered the language. I did a secretarial training when I left school at 16. Then, when I was in a temporary job, I was spotted by the Cadbury people. I did a photo for one of their campaigns and everything bounced on from there.

Who was your mentor?

In terms of my cinematic life, Luchino Visconti. I worked with him at a young age and he gave me a unique insight.

How physically fit are you?

I had a father who was a very famous athlete and I think I’ve inherited his physical tone. I’m fit, without doing much exercise, thanks to dad.

Ambition or talent: which matters more to success?

Ambition and talent. However wonderful the talent, who’s going to see it if you don’t push it out there?

Have you ever taken an IQ test?

No – I probably wouldn’t dare. All my illusions about myself would be shattered.

Mentor: Luchino Visconti

How politically committed are you?

I find it extremely difficult to know where to place myself, so I end up just having my own ideas about things.

Do you consider your carbon footprint?

I’m conscious of it, but if someone said, “Come in a private plane somewhere,” I certainly wouldn’t say, “Oh dear, I can’t because of the carbon footprint.”

Do you have more than one home?

Yes, I do. I’m based in two cities, London and Paris.

What would you like to own that you don’t currently possess?

A garden.

What’s your biggest extravagance?

I’m not an extravagant person; I don’t like overloading with things or huge expenses. I can fulfil my desires inside my own mind.

In what place are you happiest?

On my bed. And in my bed. Everything seems to happen there – all my reading, my cats can come in, my man can come in. I love going under the duvet in a cold room.

What ambitions do you still have?

To keep learning and absorbing what I can about life.

What drives you on?

The fear that if I sat down and didn’t do anything I would never get up again.

What is the greatest achievement of your life so far?

Staying alive.

What has been your greatest disappointment?

Not to have my sister with me.

If your 20-year-old self could see you now, what would she think?

I think she’d be proud.

If you lost everything tomorrow, what would you do?

I’d go and do charity work, get out there, be with people, be of any use I could to anybody. Life starts again when you put yourself out there.

Do you believe in assisted suicide?

Yes, for the absolutely terminally ill, I do.

Do you believe in an afterlife?

I dare to believe in an afterlife. Do you have any proof? Nor do I – so why not believe? If there is a possibility, I’d like to be on the list.

If you had to rate your satisfaction with your life so far, out of 10, what would you score?

Let’s go for the middle: five.

‘I, Anna’, starring Charlotte Rampling, is out in cinemas now. Over Christmas she will appear in a TV adaptation of William Boyd’s novel ‘Restless’ on BBC1

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