Born in England circa 1945, actress Charlotte Rampling is the daughter of a British colonel who went on to become a NATO commander and relatively successful painter. After attending the Jeanne d'Arc Académie pour Jeunes Filles in Versailles and the prestigious St. Hilda's school in Bushley, England, Rampling worked as a model before making her film debut as a water skier in The Knack...and How to Get It (1965), director Richard Lester's acclaimed sex comedy. Her breakout role, however, wouldn't come until a year later, when she performed opposite Lynn Redgrave as the bitchy but beautiful roommate of the title character in Georgy Girl (1966). Georgy Girl set the standard for Rampling's further work, which, while not always popular with mainstream audiences, could never be conceived of as mundane. Quite the contrary, in fact -- from her role as a hitchhiker in Vanishing Point (1971) to her portrayal of Ann Boleyn in Henry VIII and His Six Wives (1972) to her performance as a woman in love with a chimpanzee in Max My Love (1986), Rampling became notorious for her bold, meaningful characters. Luchino Visconti's The Damned (1969) is no exception to the rule (the incestuous political drama was originally rated X in the United States); neither was her work with Sean Connery in John Boorman's sci-fi adventure Zardoz (1973). That said, Rampling's most intense role was, arguably, that of a concentration camp survivor who is reunited with the Nazi guard (Dirk Bogarde) who tortured her throughout her captivity in 1974's The Night Porter.
In 1975, Rampling starred opposite Robert Mitchum in the post-noir detective thriller Farewell, My Lovely, and offered a passionate rendering of a violent heiress confined to a mental institution in the French/Italian/German collaboration La Chair de l'Orchidée. The actress' success continued to grow throughout the latter half of the 1970s, and in 1980, Rampling played a lead role alongside Woody Allen in Stardust Memories, the follow-up to the much-hailed Manhattan. Shortly afterward, Rampling could be seen as the deceitful Laura in director Sidney Lumet's courtroom drama The Verdict (1982) with Paul Newman. Rampling spent much of the mid-'80s filming in Europe; one of her most notable performances during that time was as the mysterious mistress of a murder victim in the French crime thriller On Ne Meurt Que Deux Fois, though she would return to America for Alan Parker's Angel Heart. The heavily praised voodoo-themed crime thriller featured Rampling as an ill-fated woman whose heart is irrevocably extracted from her body.
Though her fondness for murder mysteries and historical political dramas still manifested itself through her performances in Paris by Night (1989) and Invasion of Privacy (1996), Rampling also found luck in several moderately well-received comedies, including Time is Money (1994) and Asphalt Tango (1997). However, her name was launched back into the A-list after her performance as a complicated aunt in the multi-award-winning The Wings of the Dove with Helena Bonham Carter. In 2000, Rampling was nominated for her own Oscar; her portrayal of a phenomenally distraught widow in Under the Sand was praised by critics and audiences alike as one of the best performances of the year. After participating in several documentaries and the espionage thriller Spy Game (2001), Rampling starred as a conservative mystery writer in director François Ozon's Swimming Pool -- the role would win her an award for Best Actress from the European Film Academy in 2003. After her success with Swimming Pool, Rampling went on to play supporting roles in The Statement (2003) and Immortel Ad Vitam (2004).
Rampling continued to work in both English and French language projects, playing the Countess Spencer in The Duchess (2008), and later reunited with co-star Keira Knightley for Never Let Me Go (2010). In 2011, she appeared in Lars von Trier's Melancholia; the following year, she earned an Emmy nomination for her work in the BBC miniseries Restless. In 2015, she nabbed her first Academy Award nomination for her work in 45 Years.