In the 1990s, actor Robert Downey Jr. was already considered talented, but complicated. That’s why it wasn’t unanimous when his name was announced to lead the cast of the film Chaplin which was Oscar material. Studios considered actors from Robin Williams, Billy Crystal, Jim Carrey and even, amazingly, Tom Cruise for the role. Released on December 18, 1992, just a few days before the 15th anniversary of Charlie Chaplin’s death, the film did not become a classic, despite Robert’s sweeping performance. He lost the Oscar to Al Pacino for Scent of a Woman, but won the BAFTA.
Based on the autobiography the legendary comedian wrote before his exile in Switzerland, Chaplin was what was called a perfect Oscar film: biographical, celebrating the magic of cinema, and directed by Richard Attenborough, an Academy Award-winning artist. . It cost over 30 million dollars, yielded less than 10. The “failure” had little explanation beyond Chaplin himself. One of the industry’s most famous early stars, Charles Chaplin was a genius on screen, not so much in flesh and blood. Charles Chaplin – the actor – was “cancelled” in his time, that is, politically persecuted for verbally defending an inclusive world and social equality. Something curious because the success of the Tramp, his iconic character, was precisely because he connected with the worker, the common man whose dreams were often crushed by society. If we analyze it with current lenses, the drama was different.
His “preference” for teenagers was already problematic in those days when statutory rape was not yet spoken of and even so, everyone commented with shock on the actor’s preference for girls aged 18 and over. The well-known “joke” was that if a girl passed the age of 20, Chaplin would consider her “old”. Well, what today is a classic case of pedophilia, but what they considered scandalous was not the age range, but because, in addition, the actor did not want marriages or children. Chaplin’s love scandals are in the film, but the question of the age of his lovers was “justified” as being his obsession with finding his great love in his youth. Problematic… but worth watching again.