English actor Ben Chaplin was first known in his native country for his role of Matthew Malone (1995) in the BBC2 sitcom "Game-On." Since his American debut in the movie "The Truth About Cats & Dogs" (1996), in which his character was torn between Uma Thurman and Janeane Garofalo, he has become a hot commodity in Hollywood.
He has since starred in such films as "The Thin Red Line" (1998; with George Clooney), "Birthday Girl" (2001; opposite Nicole Kidman), "Murder by Numbers" (2002; alongside Sandra Bullock), "Stage Beauty" (2004; with Claire Danes and Billy Crudup), "Two Weeks" (2006; alongside Sally Field), and "The Water Horse" (2007; with Emily Watson, Alex Etel, and David Morrissey).
A true thespian, Chaplin has also displayed his talent on stage. He performed in West End productions of Tennessee Williams' "The Glass Menagerie" (1995), which earned him an Olivier Award Nomination for Best Supporting Performer, and Neil LaBute's play ''This Is How It Goes'' (2005). He also received Broadway's 2004 Tony Award for Best Actor (Featured Role - Play) for his performance in William Nicholson's play "The Retreat From Moscow."
As for his private life, the 5' 11" handsome actor recently broke up with his long-term girlfriend, up-and-coming American actress Embeth Davidtz.
Childhood and Family:
Born in London, England, on July 31, 1970, Benedict John Greenwood grew up in Windsor, Berkshire, England. The youngest of four children of Cynthia, a drama teacher, and Peter Greenwood, an engineer, Ben attended the Princess Margaret Royal Free School.
An admittedly lazy student who harbored no desire to go to college, Ben enrolled at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, in London, England. He left the institution in his second year and found work with theater companies, where he sharpened his craft.
The Truth About Cats & Dogs
After appearing in a play at age 16, Ben Chaplin decided to become an actor and honed in on his craft at London's Guildhall School of Music and Drama and with theatre troupes. In the early 1990s, Chaplin appeared on television with a guest spot in an episode of the longest running emergency medical drama series in the world, BBC One's "Casualty." He followed it up with a recurring role in the British television drama series "Soldier Soldier."
Soon after, the newcomer secured his first starring role in the comedic made-for-television movie "Bye Bye Baby" (1992). In the TV movie, which was written by talented screenwriter Jack Rosenthal, he portrayed Leo, a naive young Jewish lad in the Navy. He then appeared in the TV movie "A Fatal Inversion" (1992), an adaptation of Ruth Rendell's thrilling novel starring Douglas Hodge and Jeremy Northam. He was also spotted as a guest in an episode of the BBCI acclaimed cop drama "Between the Lines" and in the popular British television series "Minder." Additionally, he had an unaccredited role in the TV series based on the novel by Mary Norton, "The Borrowers."
In 1993, Chaplin landed a role in the Merchant Ivory Production "The Remains of the Day," which was based on a novel by Kazuo Ishiguro and starred Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson. He then appeared in the BBC TV miniseries "The Return of the Borrowers" (1993) and "Resort to Murder" (1995). He was also seen in the British TV movie "A Few Short Journeys of the Heart" (1994) and in an episode of the British comedy series starring Joanna Lumley, "Class Act."
Chaplin scored a breakthrough screen role in 1995 when he portrayed Con Wainwright, the youngest of the Wainwright brothers who marries Embeth Davidtz's enchanting character, in the Merchant Ivory Production "Feast of July," which was based on a novel by H.E. Bates. That same year, he also led the cast of the BBC2 sitcom "Game-On," playing Matthew Malone. When asked if he ever watches reruns of the sitcom, Chaplin admitted, "I can't bear to look at some of the things I've done, but I'm very proud of 'Game-On.' My character, Matthew, was beautifully written and he was so much fun to play. I'll always look back on that fondly. That show makes me laugh. Yeah, those are very happy memories. It was perfect for me. I was the right age so it was the right time for that role, so I love watching that one, in a slightly indulgent way."
Chaplin received applause for his performance as Tom Wingfield in a West End production of Tennessee Williams' "The Glass Menagerie" (1995), which was helmed by Sam Mendes. When he was about to resume his role of Matthew Malone in "Game-On" (1995), he had to pull out after being offered a starring role in an American feature, the Michael Lehmann-directed "The Truth About Cats & Dogs" (1996), where he portrayed Brian, a photographer torn between Uma Thurman and Janeane Garofalo's characters. On working with Thurman in the romantic comedy, Chaplin commented, "Uma is extraordinary. She's like an Amazonian goddess. Uma is a tall woman who commands a room when she comes into it, physically as much as anything else."
Following his American debut, Chaplin costarred as the strikingly handsome Morris Townsend, who becomes the love interest of Jennifer Jason Leigh's character, in Agnieszka Holland's film adaptation of an 1880 Henry James novella, "Washington Square" (1997). He then starred as Private Bell in Terrence Malick's Oscar-nominated remake of James Jones' autobiographical 1962 novel, "The Thin Red Line" (1998).
"At first it was mind-boggling. When you arrive in LA as an Englishman, you might as well be on the moon. People just don't understand you if you speak too fast and most people there think you're Australian. Ordering was incredibly complicated. I was speechless." Ben Chaplin
Entering the new millennium, Chaplin was cast as the smug, best-selling crime writer Peter Kelson in the Meg Ryan-produced horror film directed by Janusz Kaminski, "Lost Souls," opposite Winona Ryder. He then starred opposite Nicole Kidman in the British Film Four-backed film directed by Jez Butterworth, "Birthday Girl" (screened at the Venice Film Festival in 2001, released theatrically in 2002). About the film, Chaplin revealed, "I play a lonely British bank clerk, a rather unglamorous guy named John Buckingham who's trying to get out of his English suburban trap of a life by shaking things up. He's so naive that he thinks a mail-order Russian bride - played by Nicole - found over the internet will put an end to his loneliness and yearning for love. This is a dark comedy with some romance and suspense, so there are twists and turns in the plot that make it quite intriguing."
Afterward, Chaplin costarred with Sandra Bullock in Barbet Schroeder's thriller "Murder By Numbers" (2002). He then starred opposite Michelle Yeoh in the action film directed by ''Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon'' cinematographer Peter Pau, "The Touch."
Chaplin returned to Broadway in 2003 to headline William Nicholson's play "The Retreat From Moscow," for which he was nominated for Broadway's 2004 Tony Award as Best Actor (Featured Role – Play), and to the London stage in July 2005 in Neil LaBute's play "This Is How It Goes" at the West End.
Ben next starred opposite Claire Danes and Billy Crudup in Richard Eyre's film version of Jeffrey Hatcher's romantic play, "Stage Beauty" (2004), where he portrayed George Villiars, the Duke of Buckingham, and supported Colin Farrell, Christopher Plummer, and Christian Bale in writer/director Terrence Malick's Oscar nominated drama about explorer John Smith and the clash between Native Americans and English settlers in the 17th century, "The New World" (2005). He also teamed up with Penelope Cruz, Ralph Fiennes, Kristin Scott Thomas, Rhys Ifans, and Ian Holm in writer/director Martha Fiennes' ensemble film that debuted at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival in France, "Chromophobia."
Chaplin's more recent film works include "Two Weeks" (2006), which was directed by Steve Stockman and starred Sally Field, and "The Water Horse" (2007), a fantasy film directed by Jay Russell and costarring Emily Watson, Alex Etel, and David Morrissey.
"I'd like to keep working on both sides of the Atlantic, but settling down is not something I can really compute as I've lived out of a bag since I was 17. Being an actor is well paid but it's a bit like being a circus traveler. There's no base except for where your friends and family are. Wherever I settle, I know I can't spend a lot of time there so I have to grab the bits of time that I have at home, when I can, and just enjoy them, but it's a transient existence." Ben Chaplin