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Ben Chaplin: ‘The last thing I wanted to be was the new Hugh Grant’ | Film

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Sitting in the Los Angeles sun in a T-shirt and a hoodie, Ben Chaplin has a coffee cup in one hand and a cigarette between two fingers of the other. He is chipper this morning, if a little wary about technology, after a mishap last year.

“My first Zoom thing was also my first ever Seder dinner,” says the 51-year-old actor. “My girlfriend is Jewish and I was feeling like this total charlatan, this goy, among all her elderly relatives.” Suddenly, the screen turned blue and a curved white line emerged, guided by an unseen hand. “This older voice asked: ‘What’s going on?’ And then you start to see the classic cartoon penis. I’m embarrassed by how funny I found it. I was thinking: ‘Are they going to draw hairs on the balls?’ But then it cut off. Apparently, a kid from one of the families was responsible. Good on him. Hahaha!”

Chaplin has a natural exuberance, although on screen he is capable of delicacy in a variety of registers – from the prickly comedy of Birthday Girl, in which he played a St Albans pen-pusher on the run, with Nicole Kidman as his mail-order bride, to the fraught suspense of the BBC One drama Apple Tree Yard, notorious for his sex scene with Emily Watson in a House of Commons broom cupboard.

In his latest role, he has adapted to a more genteel mood: he plays the archaeologist Stuart Piggott inthe fact-based drama The Dig.

‘There’s a universality to the themes’ … watch the trailer for The Dig.

He isn’t the lead here: the stars are Carey Mulligan, as the widow whose Sutton Hoo estate is the site of Anglo-Saxon relics, and Ralph Fiennes, who begins excavating them as the second world war approaches. It is in Piggott’s story, though, that much of the film’s emotional urgency lies. His wife and fellow archaeologist, Peggy (Lily James), spots him making goo-goo eyes at a male colleague and intuits that ancient treasure is not the only thing that has been buried.

“The film’s beautiful,” he says. “It’s all about minutiae, isn’t it? The legacy of the individual, our imprints. You could argue it’s on the nose, but I’m glad it is. There’s a universality, a hugeness, to the themes.”

He chose not to dig too deeply into the real Piggott’s past. “I made the mistake when I was young of researching the crap out of something and then thinking: ‘Well, what did that do for me?’” he says. “Then again, I’m from the nontransformational school.”

That was the complaint at Guildhall, the drama school in London, from which he was kicked out, albeit temporarily. “The official reason was that I didn’t transform enough,” he says. “I was playing King Lear at 19 – what did they want me to do? That isn’t a stretch, that’s a rack.”

Ben Chaplin and Emily Watson in Apple Tree Yard
Fraught suspense … Chaplin and Emily Watson in Apple Tree Yard. Photograph: BBC/Kudos/Nick Briggs

The youngest of four children, Chaplin was raised in a village near Windsor. From his mother, a teacher, he got his passion for reading. From his father, a businessman, he inherited a love of film. “The sitting room became our cinema. If I spoke, I was kicked out, so I shut up and paid attention.” His dad died 20 years ago, when Chaplin’s Hollywood career was in full swing. “I’m sure he died not worrying about me, thinking that my place was set.” He laughs. “Little did he know how choosy and awkward I would be.”

An earlier bereavement hit Chaplin especially hard. “My eldest sister. She was tough, opinionated, brilliant. She died when I’d started doing quite well. I’d just done The Remains of the Day and she never saw it. I remember thinking she’d have been proud of me for that,” he says. He says her death altered him profoundly. “To appreciate the impermanence of life at that young age is a gift. It made me kinder, more tolerant, a better actor. But sadder. I have a darkness I didn’t have before. It’s definitely been a less gleeful life since.”

Chaplin experienced mainstream success as an agoraphobic Jack-the-lad in the BBC flatshare sitcom Game On, then left after one series. He went to LA to spend time with his then-partner, the Schindler’s List star Embeth Davidtz, whom he had met when they played lovers in the adaptation of HE Bates’s Feast of July. While there, he auditioned successfully for The Truth About Cats & Dogs, a bubbly, gender-flipped Cyrano de Bergerac starring Uma Thurman, which became a surprise hit. A year later, he was the rotter romancing Jennifer Jason Leigh in a handsome film of Henry James’s Washington Square.

It was around then that the doubts set in. “You don’t know that you don’t want to be famous until you are,” he says. “I felt embarrassed being flown business or first. You think: ‘I haven’t earned this!’ Everywhere you go, the attitude toward you changes.” It hardly helped that he was far from home. “I found myself existentially lonely, in a way.”

Theatre had always provided him with ample consolations. “When you’re in the zone, you defeat time, you defeat mortality. All you can see is the other actor’s face. Someone I was on stage with said: ‘You go to the other side, don’t you?’ I’d never heard that before. I said: ‘Yeah, I do.’”

Ben Chaplin in his Hollywood breakthrough, The Truth About Cats & Dogs
Pet project … Chaplin in his Hollywood breakthrough, The Truth About Cats & Dogs. Photograph: 20th Century Fox/Kobal/Rex/Shutterstock

That absorption became harder to achieve during the fragmentary process of film-making. One exception was The Thin Red Line, in which he played a grunt fighting in the battle of Guadalcanal. There was war wherever he turned – explosions, planes flying overhead – while the director, Terrence Malick, kept the cameras rolling. “We shot a million and a half feet of celluloid,” says Chaplin. “There’s about 50 films in there.”

He ended up as one of the leads in that movie, which had its share of editing-suite casualties: Mickey Rourke and Bill Pullman were among the actors excised completely. Chaplin returned for a smaller part in Malick’s next film, The New World, although his performance as an abusive father was cut from The Tree of Life.

His acting coach on The Thin Red Line was the late Penelope Allen, best known as the head bank teller in Dog Day Afternoon. I tell Chaplin what she once said about him: “Ben had such a thing with being the ‘pretty boy’, so he didn’t want people to see him as the pretty boy; he wanted people to see him as the wonderful actor that he is.”

When I look up, he is dabbing his eyes. “Oh my God,” he says. “You’re making me cry.” I apologise – I hadn’t meant to upset him. “No, it’s so nice,” he says. “I’m just so flattered she said that. I had this shame about calling myself an actor before I met Penny. I loved it, but it felt frivolous. She made me proud of it. I miss her and you just brought her back for me. Thank you. That struck me right to the heart, that one.”

Chaplin and Woody Harrelson in The Thin Red Line
‘There’s about 50 films in there’ … Chaplin and Woody Harrelson in The Thin Red Line. Photograph: Moviestore/Rex/Shutterstock

Was she correct to discern a self-consciousness about his looks? “I wanted to be a serious actor, but I was often referred to as a ‘British hunk’,” he says. Then he adopts a mock-offended tone. “Quite frankly, Ryan, I felt objectified.”

How did he rate himself? “I’ve never thought of myself as a pretty boy. My brother made sure of that when we were growing up – I got loads of put-downs, which was probably good for me. But, also, I was really little until I was 14, so I was shorter than all the girls. I didn’t feel attractive. I didn’t think I was a minger, but I didn’t have any concept of being handsome.”

Any concern about his appearance arose from a fear of being typecast. “I turned a few films down. The last thing I wanted to be was the new Hugh Grant, which is what they were trying to paint me as. I wanted it to be about my acting.”

His Hollywood career didn’t pan out as many might have expected. But Chaplin is upbeat. “I’ve been ever so lucky. I’ve worked with some big ones.” Indeed: Francis Ford Coppola (who cast him as the ghost of Edgar Allan Poe in Twixt), Richard Linklater (Me and Orson Welles), Oliver Stone (Snowden). He is waiting for production to resume on Joss Whedon’s fantasy series The Nevers, hence the temporary relocation from his home in London to LA.

“I was always ambitious about being better,” he says. “I was obsessed with that. I probably should’ve done more jobs that would have cemented me as a better-known actor, but I didn’t want that. I wanted to cruise along.” As he says that, his hand illustrates an undulating line in the air, like a schooner happy to have hit calmer waters.

The Dig is on Netflix from 29 January


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Fate The Winx Saga On The Show Vs. Real Life

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Another Netflix cast I’d like to be BFFs with.

1.

Abigail Cowen as Bloom


Netflix / @abbeycowen / Via instagram.com

If you’re a ride-or-die Netflix watcher, then you probably know Abigail from her role as Dorcas on Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. She also appeared on The Fosters as Eliza Hunter, the mini-series The Power Couple, and two episodes of Stranger Things as Vicki, one of the girls who notices when Billy first pulls up to Hawkins High School. In 2020, Abigail also appeared in the movie I Still Believe opposite KJ Apa and Britt Robertson.

You can follow Abigail on Instagram here.

2.

Precious Mustapha as Aisha


Netflix / @preciousmustaph / Via instagram.com

Precious’s role as Aisha on Fate: The Winx Saga is her first major movie or TV role, which is absolutely incredible. She’s also set to star in the TV series Code 404 in 2021 as well.

You can follow Precious on Instagram here.

3.

Hannah van der Westhuysen as Stella


Netflix / @hannavdw / Via instagram.com

Stella on Fate: The Winx Saga is one of Hannah’s first major TV roles. Previously, she appeared in the movie The Bay of Silence and the TV series The Fugitives. She’s also set to star in the biopic Lamborghini, opposite Alec Baldwin.

You can follow Hannah on Instagram here.

4.

Eliot Salt as Terra


Netflix / @abbbeycowen / Via instagram.com

Eliot had a pretty big 2020 leading into her starring role as Terra on Fate: The Winx Saga. She starred on Intelligence as Evelyn opposite David Schwimmer and Nick Mohammed, and she most notably appeared on Normal People as Joanna, one of Marianne’s friends.

You can follow Eliot on Instagram here.

5.

Elisha Applebaum as Musa


Jonatahn Hession / Netflix / @elisha_applebaum / Via instagram.com

Musa on Fate: The Winx Saga is Elisha’s first major TV or movie role. Before starring in this new Netflix sieres, she previouslly appeared in some short films and she’ll appear in the upcoming movie No Reasons.

You can follow Elisha on Instagram here.

6.

Danny Griffin as Sky


Netflix / @danny_griffin_ / Via instagram.com

Prior to starring as Sky on Fate: The Winx Saga, Danny starred on the Netflix series Get Even in 2020. He also appeared in the movie The Gentleman opposite Matthew McConaughey, Charlie Hunnam, Michelle Dockery, Colin Farrell, Hugh Grant, and Henry Golding, just to name a few.

You can follow Danny on Instagram here.

7.

Freddie Thorp as Riven


Netflix / @freddiethorp / Via instagram.com

Before starring as Riven on Fate: The Winx Saga, Freddie appeared on the TV series Safe and in an episode of A Discovery of Witches. He also starred in the movie Overdrive opposite Scott Eastwood and Ana de Armas.

You can follow Freddie on Instagram here.

8.

Theo Graham as Dane


Netflix / @theofarrislee / Via instagram.com

Prior to starring as Dane on Fate: The Winx Saga, Theo is probably best-known for his work as Hunter McQueen in the British soap opera Hollyoaks. He starred in 125 episodes of Hollyoaks from 2016 to 2018. Theo has also appeared in Clink, Doctors, and Brief Encounters.

You can follow Theo on Instagram here.

9.

Sadie Soverall as Beatrix


Jonathan Hession / Netflix / @sadiesoverall / Via instagram.com

Sadie’s role as Beatrix on Fate: The Winx Saga is her first ever starring role on a TV show or in a movie. Before this, she appeared in the movie Rose Plays Julie, but that’s it. Honestly, she absolutely crushed it for her first TV show.

You can follow Sadie on Instagram here.

10.

Jacob Dudman as Sam Harvey


Jonathan Hession / Netflix / @jacobdudman / Via instagram.com

Before starring as Sam on Fate: The Winx Saga, Jacob might be best-known for voicing the roles of the Tenth Doctor, Eleventh Doctor, and Twelfth Doctor as part of audio dramas for the Doctor Who TV series. He also appeared on the Netflix series Medici and The Stranger. You can also check out Jacob’s YouTube channel.

You can follow Jacob on Instagram here.

11.

Robert James-Collier as Saul Silva


Jonathan Hession / Netflix / Jeff Spicer / Getty Images

One of the most recognizable faces in the Fate: The Winx Saga cast, Robert is best-known for his starring role as Thomas Barrow on Downton Abbey and as Liam Connor on Coronation Street. Currently, he also stars on the British drama-comedy Ackley Bridge.

12.

Eve Best as Farah Dowling


Netflix / Dave Benett / Getty Images

Eve has starred in numerous notable TV shows, movies, and plays. On TV, she’s probably best-known for her work as Dr. Eleanor O’Hara on Nurse Jackie. She also starred on The Honourable Woman, The Infinite Worlds of H.G. Wells, and Lucky Man. In film, Eve starred opposite Colin Firth in The King’s Speech. And, on stage, Eve won an Olivier Award for her work in Hedda Gabler in 2005. And, she made her Broadway debut in A Moon For The Misbegotten, which earned her a Tony nomination. She also appeared on Broadway in The Homecoming and Old Times.

13.

Eva Birthistle as Vanessa


Netflix / Karwai Tang / WireImage / Getty Images

Before appearing on Fate: The Winx Saga as Bloom’s mom, Eva has starred in numerous TV shows and movies. Currently, she stars on Netflix’s The Last Kingdom as Hild. In terms of movies, she’s starred in Ae Fond Kiss…, Brooklyn opposite Saiorse Ronan, Imagine Me & You opposite Piper Perabo and Lena Headey, and much more. Also, Eva is Irish in real life.

14.

Alex Macqueen as Professor Harvey


Netflix / Ian Gavan / Getty Images

Alex has starred in numerous TV shows prior to Fate: The Winx Saga. He’s probably best-known for his roles on Holby City, Hut 33, Peep Show, The Inbetweeners, Hunderby, Peaky Blinders, Sally4Ever, and much more. He also appeared in the live-action Cinderella movie. Alex also voiced The Master in numerous audio dramas for Doctor Who.

15.

Josh Cowdery as Mike


Netflix / @joshcowdery / Via instagram.com

Prior to appearing as Bloom’s father on Fate: The Winx Saga, Josh appeared in several notable TV shows and movies. He appeared in The Avengers and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as a member of S.H.I.E.L.D., and he starred in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them as Senator Shaw. Like Eva, Josh is actually Irish in real life too.

You can follow Josh on Instagram here.

16.

Kate Fleetwood as Queen Luna


Jonathan Hession / Netflix / Karwai Tang / WireImage / Getty Images

Before appearing as Stella’s mother Queen Luna on Fate: The Winx Saga, Kate is probably best-known for her work on Broadway and the West End. She was nominated for a Tony Award for her performance as Lady Macbeth in Macbeth, a role that she performed on Broadway and on the West End. She was also nominated for an Oliver Award for her work in London Road . Outside of theater, Kate has also appeared in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Harry Potter and the Deathy Hallows — Part 1, Brave New World, Harlots, Victoria, and much more.

17.

Lesley Sharp as Rosalind


Netflix / Sylvain Lefevre / Getty Images

A well-known British actor, Lesley is known for her work on Clocking Off, Bob & Rose, Scott & Bailey, Starlings, Afterlife, and much more. She was also nominated for a BAFTA Award for her work in the film The Full Monty in 1997. Outside of TV and film, Lesley has also appeared in numerous stage productions such as Harper Regan and A Taste of Honey at the Royal National Theatre.

You can follow Lesley on Instagram here.

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Legacies Hope And Landon Season 3 Premiere Kiss

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“I know this is a fairy tale and all, but…”

🚨Spoilers ahead!!!🚨

After a long hiatus, Legacies finally returned last week on The CW.

The Season 3 premiere picked up with Hope stuck in a magical coma, staying asleep to avoid dealing with the reality of Landon’s death.

Eventually, Rafael persuades ghost Landon to return to his body so they can get Hope back. Landon then wakes Hope up with a “true love’s kiss” and she magically comes back to life.

I’ve gotta be honest — this plot choice left a bad taste in my mouth for several reasons. For one thing, Legacies teased a nearly identical situation with Hope and Josie in the Season 2 finale, but with a VERY different message.


The CW

It’s worth remembering that Josie was later revealed to be the pig.

Legacies set a very clear standard with the above scene: Non-consensual kisses aren’t okay, and people who are unconscious obviously cannot give consent. So, uh, why did that rule suddenly fly out the window the very next episode?


Nickelodeon

Yes, I know Landon is Hope’s boyfriend and one might be able to conclude that she would probably be okay with him kissing her, but still — it sends an iffy message. You still need consent even in an established relationship.

And look, I get the whole Sleeping Beauty reference, and I’m not suggesting anything intentionally sinister on Landon’s part. HOWEVER. TV often holds LGBTQ relationships to higher standards and this feels like a shining example of that.


The CW

If Hope needs to ask for consent to kiss Josie (as she should!), then the rules should NOT be different with Landon.

This is also part of a larger issue with the way Legacies approaches its W|W relationships. While it’s fantastic that we have multiple queer female characters, it’s a bit disappointing that we’ve really only seen one sapphic couple (Josie and Penelope, who were already broken up) so far. The show also constantly teases Hope and Josie’s mutual attraction but has yet to actually do anything with it — at this point, it’s hard for it to feel like anything but queerbaiting.

Meanwhile, most of Hope’s recent storylines involve Landon to the point where Hope barely feels like her own character anymore. That’s not to say she can’t have a love interest — of course she can! — but she’s literally supposed to be like, the most powerful being ever. She deserves to have storylines that don’t revolve around Landon, and the way the premiere chose to resolve the problem was disappointing, IMO.


The CW

Hope also felt pretty out of character in this episode too, if I’m being honest. You’re telling me all she wants to do when she wakes up is make out with Landon? Not check on any of her friends — namely Josie, who she spent an entire episode trying to save and was one of the reasons she was in the coma?

So yeah, TLDR — the Hope and Landon kiss shouldn’t have happened because it enforced an unfair double standard and it was an overall disservice to Hope’s character arc.

And I’m not the only one with strong feelings about the kiss:

and the thing is josie gave consent to hope to kiss her, hope just didn’t know that it was josie she was talking to. however hope didn’t give landon consent to kiss her because she was unconscious so before y’all come after the w|w ship you need to think about that #legacies


Twitter: @josiescraft

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WandaVision Tweets On Wanda And Vision’s Relationship

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“We’re an unusual couple, you know?”

🚨 Warning: WandaVision spoilers ahead! 🚨

If you’ve been keeping up with WandaVision on Disney+, then you already know that Wanda and Vision have some seriously adorable moments as a couple.


Disney+ / Marvel Studios / Courtesy Everett Collection

In fact, fans on Twitter have been swooning over the pair since the show’s premiere. So, here are some of the most wholesome — and funniest — tweets that sum up everyone’s love for Wanda and Vision:

2.

i just read that the reason vision kisses wanda’s hands all the time is because that’s where her powers come from, and she hates her powers but he loves everything about her and now i need to go lie down

3.

wanda looks so happy and in love while looking at vision, it breaks my heart to think that by the end of the show, she will probably lose him once again

4.

the 70s is gonna be the peak of wanda and vision’s relationship before they have the twins 🌝 they look so adorable

6.

i laughed so hard when vision couldn’t handle the air and wanda is just like “😁”

10.

#WandaVision

when I realise Wanda will have to leave her reality and Vision will be gone 💔

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