Carmen, it seems that between Jaeger-LeCoultre and your family, it’s a true love story!
That’s right! When Charlie Chaplin, my grandfather, settled in Switzerland in the Canton of Vaux in 1952, the Jaeger factory offered him a watch as a welcome gift. My grandfather then offered this watch to my father when he was 14, and it was then passed onto my mother on the day of their wedding. It was when it was my turn for the watch to be given to me to take to Jaeger-LeCoultre for repair that I personally became acquainted with this famous brand! In 2013, I also made a short film for them with my daughter of four months.
Where does your father fit in amongst the numerous siblings born from the love between your grandfather and his wife Oona O’Neill?
My aunt Geraldine is the eldest of the siblings and my dad, Michael, the oldest boy. Charlie Chaplin was both of English origin and Gypsy by his mother. He was also born into a gypsy caravan. It is no doubt from these gypsy origins that comes my taste of nomadism! My father is a novelist and lives in Switzerland. He lived for a long time in the house of my grandfather, which is supposed to be turned into Chaplin museum next spring.
As a child, did people talk to you a lot about your world famous grandfather?
I had never been raised in the cult of Charlie Chaplin and it is only at school that I learned who he was. As our parents had mentioned to us his small size, and for a long time we thought that our grandfather was Louis de Funes! When we finally understood that it was Charlie Chaplin, we watched his films but because they were all made in black and white they were hard to relate to…
Among all of the films of your grandfather, which one is your favorite?
“A King in New York”. Because my father plays a little boy and Charlie plays a king. I also believe that for as much as I appreciate this film, it is certainly because for once Charlie is not playing his “Little Tramp” character.
Mixed bloods often make for beautiful children… you yourself are a blend of several cultures…
My mother, the painter Patricia Betaudier is half Irish, half Trinidadian. From age 6 to 14, I grew up in the Lot-et-Garonne with my parents who were very much hippies, living on a farm in the middle of nowhere full of goats, chicken, and sheep. We went to school there, but the director hated us. When my sister and I missed school to go to Cannes to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of my grandfather, he lashed out at us “So, you think it’s ok to miss class? You think you are stars?” He thought we felt superior…