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

Thu 14 Jan 2021 16.00 GMT

The Game On actor has had Hollywood success without ending up being an A-lister. Working with Malick, Stone and Francis Ford Coppola has made for an intriguing career

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 in between 2 fingers of the other. He is chipper this early morning, if a little wary about technology, after an incident last year.” My very first Zoom thing was also my very first Seder dinner,” states the 51-year-old actor. “My girlfriend is Jewish and I was feeling like this total charlatan, this goy, amongst all her senior relatives.” Unexpectedly, the screen turned blue and a curved white line emerged, guided by a hidden hand. “This older voice asked: Whats going on? And then you start to see the classic cartoon penis. Im embarrassed by how funny I discovered it. I was believing: Are they going to draw hairs on the balls? Then it cut off. Apparently, a kid from one of the families was responsible. Great on him. Hahaha!” Chaplin has a natural vitality, although on screen he is capable of special in a range of registers– from the prickly funny of Birthday Girl, in which he played a St Albans pen-pusher on the run, with Nicole Kidman as his mail-order bride-to-be, to the filled thriller of the BBC One drama Apple Tree Yard, infamous for his sex scene with Emily Watson in a House of Commons broom cupboard. Theres a universality to the themes … enjoy the trailer for The Dig. In his most current role, he has actually adapted to a more cultured state of mind: he plays the archaeologist Stuart Piggott in the fact-based drama The Dig.He isnt the lead here: the stars are Carey Mulligan, as the widow whose Sutton Hoo estate is the website of Anglo-Saxon relics, and Ralph Fiennes, who starts excavating them as the 2nd world war techniques. It remains in Piggotts story, though, that much of the movies psychological seriousness lies. His partner and fellow archaeologist, Peggy (Lily James), spots him making goo-goo eyes at a male coworker and intuits that ancient treasure is not the only thing that has been buried.” The movies stunning,” he states. “Its everything about minutiae, isnt it? The legacy of the individual, our imprints. You might argue its on the nose, however Im pleased it is. Theres a universality, a hugeness, to the themes.” He selected not to dig too deeply into the real Piggotts past. “I made the error when I was young of researching the crap out of something and after that thinking: Well, what did that do for me?” he states. “Then again, Im from the nontransformational school.” Its all about the tradition of the specific … Chaplin in The Dig. Photo: Larry Horricks/NetflixThat was the grievance at Guildhall, the drama school in London, from which he was tossed out, albeit briefly. “The main factor was that I didnt change enough,” he states. “I was playing King Lear at 19– what did they desire me to do? That isnt a stretch, thats a rack.”
His dad died 20 years ago, when Chaplins Hollywood profession was in full swing. He states her death changed him exceptionally.” Fraught suspense … Chaplin and Emily Watson in Apple Tree Yard.
“You do not understand that you do not want to be well-known up until you are,” he says. “We shot a million and a half feet of celluloid,” says Chaplin. “Theres about 50 movies in there.”
I tell Chaplin what she once stated about him: “Ben had such a thing with being the lovely young boy, so he didnt want individuals to see him as the beautiful boy; he desired people to see him as the terrific actor that he is. “Im simply so flattered she said that. “I wanted to be a serious star, however I was frequently referred to as a British hunk,” he states.
Chaplin is upbeat. He is waiting for production to resume on The Nevers, Joss Whedons fantasy series for HBO, thus the short-lived relocation from his house in London to LA.” I was always ambitious about being better,” he states. As he says that, his hand highlights an undulating line in the air, like a schooner pleased to have hit calmer waters.The Dig is on Netflix from 29 January

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” The films gorgeous,” he states. “You dont know that you do not want to be well-known until you are,” he states. “We shot a million and a half feet of celluloid,” says Chaplin. I tell Chaplin what she when said about him: “Ben had such a thing with being the lovely young boy, so he didnt desire individuals to see him as the pretty young boy; he wanted people to see him as the fantastic star that he is. “I wanted to be a severe star, however I was often referred to as a British hunk,” he says.

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