Charles Berling

Active - 1992 - 2019  |   Born - Apr 30, 1958 in Saint-Mandé, France  |   Genres - Drama

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Biography by Rebecca Flint Marx

Noted for his charismatic presence and his ability to immerse himself in a diverse range of roles, Charles Berling is an actor whose name garners respect and recognition in his native France. Berling first earned acclaim in the theatre, where he was a fixture for many years, before making his film debut in 1993's Salt on Our Skin. Three years later, he earned widespread acclaim for his leading role in Patrice Leconte's Ridicule, in which he starred as an 18th century nobleman who learns to play a delicate and deadly game of wit at the court of Versailles.

Born on Tahiti in 1958, Berling studied acting at a Parisian drama school located on la rue Blanche and made his stage debut in 1982. He spent the next decade performing in a large variety of productions and ventured into cinema in the early 1990s. Two of his more memorable early films were Pascale Ferran's Petits Arrangements avec les Morts (1994), which cast him as an entomologist trying to come to terms with memories of his childhood, and Claude Sautet's Nelly et Monsieur Arnaud (1995), in which he played Emmanuelle Béart's boring husband.

With the success of Ridicule, for which he earned a Best Actor César nomination (the film won four Césars, including Best Film), Berling became better-known to film audiences and subsequently began working steadily before the camera, often appearing in romantic and/or psychological dramas. One of his rare excursions into all-out comedy was Love, Etc., a 1996 feature that cast him as a ladies' man who becomes infatuated with his best friend's wife (Charlotte Gainsbourg). Berling, however, has been most effectively cast as a dramatic leading man, as was most notably the case with Nettoyage à sec (1997), in which he and Miou-Miou played a husband and wife whose marriage undergoes an upheaval; Cedric Kahn's L'Ennui (1998), which featured the actor as a man who becomes obsessed with a teenage girl; and Patrice Chéreau's Ceux Qui M'Aiment Prendront le Train, in which he played a gay art historian on his way to an artist's funeral. Berling received César nominations for his work in the first two films, which made him -- thanks to his first César nomination for Ridicule -- one of the few actors to be nominated for the honor three years in a row.

In 2000, Berling reteamed with Béart to star in Les Destinées Sentimentales, a period drama by Olivier Assayas; that same year, he headed the cast of Scènes de crimes, a crime thriller directed by Frédéric Schoendoerferr.

Movie Highlights

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  • Fils d'un médecin de marine, il a vécu à Brest, à Toulon et à Tahiti.
  • À Toulon, il fait partie de la troupe de théâtre de son lycée. Décidé à en faire son métier, il poursuit sa formation à l'INSAS de Bruxelles.
  • Il fait sa première apparition à l'écran en 1982, dans Meurtres à domicile.
  • C'est Nelly et Monsieur Arnaud (1994) puis Ridicule (1996) qui le révèlent au grand public.
  • Depuis 2010, il dirige le Théâtre Liberté à Toulon avec son frère, le metteur en scène Philippe Berling.
  • En 2012 il sort son premier album en tant que chanteur, Jeune chanteur, pour lequel il a collaboré avec Carla Bruni et Bertrand Burgalat.
  • Il partage l'affiche avec son fils, le comédien Emile Berling, dans Comme un homme (2012).
  • En 2015, il entame le tournage de son premier long-métrage.