Interview with Carmen & Dolores Chaplin

In the long history of Hollywood there is probably no bigger name than that of Charlie Chaplin. A brilliant comedian in his native England, Chaplin came to America and introduced the world to perhaps the most beloved character of his era, the Little Tramp. He also made the successful jump from silent films to talkies, a subject that is explored in the new film “The Artist.”

To highlight the opening of “The Artist,” MediaMikes had the great opportunity to speak with two of Charlie Chaplin’s granddaughters, Carmen and Dolores. Named for two popular actresses of their era (Dolores del Rio and Carmen Miranda), the two have worked steadily both in Europe and in the States. They collaborated on a short film entitled “Tryst in Paname,” which is about to begin making the film festival rounds.

Mike Smith: You both grew up around show business and are obviously aware of your grandfather’s legacy. Did you see “The Artist” as a homage to your grandfather’s work?
Carmen Chaplin: We see it as a film that stands on its own. Obviously the fact that it’s in black and white and silent and has a lot of historical references you could see it as some sort of homage. But it stands on its own. As a film it’s a great film.

MS: Had this film been released during your grandfather’s era do you think he would have enjoyed the film?
CC: Oh yes. He also had to deal with the transition to “talkies.” It would have been a story very much of its time then. Actors didn’t think about transitioning to talking films until later. So yes, I think he would have enjoyed it.

MS: You’re both named after popular actresses from the Golden Age of Hollywood. Do you have a strong appreciation for that time?
CC: Yes. I think when you’re involved with films and you honestly love film you have to remember those times. Everything that they did then was revolutionary. It was a very exciting time and it’s exciting to look back.
Dolores Chaplin: Definitely. I love looking back at the history of films. The industry was literally built from nothing. They had to create it. Everything was new. It must have been an extremely exciting time to be in the movies back then.

MS: You both are working actresses. Do you think the “Chaplin” name helped or hurt you at the beginning of your careers.
DC: I still haven’t worked that one out. It depends on the day (laughs).
CC: It really depends on who you talk to. I really have no idea. It does come with some preconceptions, obviously, but it is a lovely name to carry.
DC: People have a lot of love and admiration for our grandfather so it’s rather nice when the connection is made. We try to make it rub off on us. (both laugh)

MS: Carmen, you recently followed in your grandfather’s footsteps by writing and directing the short film “Tryst in Paname” which co-starred your Dolores. How has that project been received?
CC: In the past few weeks I recently finished post-production. We’re getting ready to do the festival circuit now.

MS: Do you have any plans to tackle a feature film?
CC: Yes. That’s the idea. We did this short film which we’ll be showing about. I’ve written a feature film which I want to direct. My sister will be starring in it. But we need something to show that we are good at what we are doing.

MS: Dolores, do you have any plans to go behind the camera one day as a writer or director?
DC: Well, I’m never going to say never. But at the moment, no.