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These Modern Day Actors Remind Us of Charlie Chaplin

Charlie Chaplin

These Modern Day Actors Remind Us of Charlie Chaplin

As one of the most prominent actors of the silent film era, Charlie Chaplin is and was a legend. Over a career that spanned 75 years, his on-screen persona is one of the most memorable and important in the history of film. As one of the most financially successful stars of his time, Chaplin has long set the bar for many other actors. It’s with this in mind that we can take a look to see if any modern-day actors remind us of Charlie Chaplin.

Growing Up

Charlie Chaplin The Adventurer
Growing up in England, Charlie Chaplin was very self-reliant.

Born on April 16, 1889, in London, England, Charlie Chaplin’s early life was anything but easy. Both of his parents were movie hall performers, but their relationship was fragile. After his father and his mother separated in 1891, Charlie lived with his mother. For the next 10 years, Chaplin’s life was heavy with trouble which included his mother being committed to a mental asylum and an alcoholic father.

Entering Hollywood

Charlie Chaplin
Thanks to his brother, Charlie Chaplin performed on an American comedy tour.

As an escape from his troubles growing up, Charlie began to perform on stage. After joining his brother on a tour in a comedy sketch group, Chaplin joined the circus. However, better luck struck when his brother landed a deal with a comedy company and got an audition for his brother, which he nailed.

The group’s success led to an American tour where Chaplin was invited to work for the New York Motion Picture Company. In his second film, Mabel’s Strange Predicament, Chaplin selected the costume with which he would universally be identified.

Best Films

Charlie Chaplin
Among Chaplin’s best films, The Tramp is one of his most memorable.

As Chaplin’s career grew, he switched to a different film company and received a larger contract. This contract gave even more rise to his stardom. Chaplin was now featured everywhere and “Chaplinitis” was the way to describe his growing worldwide fame.

After this point, films like Modern Times, City Lights, The Great Dictator, The Gold Rush, The Kid, and The Circus become film industry staples. After setting up the United Artists Corporation in 1919 with other Hollywood stars, Chaplin had total control over which of his films were produced and released.

Historical Impact

Charlie Chaplin
Chaplin’s movie stardom allowed him to meet famous scientists like Einstein.

While Charlie Chaplin’s role in the silent era of film cannot be understated, his historical impact goes well beyond this era. As one of the first comedians to entirely finance and produce his films, he set the stage for a more modern era of filmmaking. Chaplin also set the bar for being able to cast, act, write, direct, and edit all of his films. There is no question that Chaplin changed Hollywood forever and he did it by clawing his way to the top.

Characteristics

Charlie Chaplin
Chaplin’s fame was due in part to his ability to use physical comedy.

To best look at modern-day actors that resemble Charlie Chaplin, it’s important to know how Chaplin’s comedy worked. Using physical comedy, Chaplin came across as a master of using exaggerated expressions to convey emotion without words. Chaplin also succeeded in connecting with audiences by focusing on social commentary like poverty and struggling as a member of the American working class.

Rowan Atkinson

Atkinson_Rowan
Like Chaplin, Rowan Atkinson had made a career out of physical comedy.

Out of all of the modern-day actors still in the business today, few may be as close to Charlie Chaplin-like characters as Rowan Atkinson. Born in January 1955, the British actor is widely regarded as one of the funniest people alive. Starting in radio, Atkinson made the jump to television in the late 1970s. Performing on television would lead him to the role of Mr. Bean, Atkinson’s most famous role.

Mr. Bean

Rowan Atkinson
The character of Mr. Bean is said to be as close to Chaplin as modern-day allows.

Like Charlie Chaplin, the Mr. Bean characters use every aspect of their body to convey humor. While Atkinson certainly has the opportunity to speak, he often does his best work in character without any words at all. Facial expressions and body language carry the day just as Chaplin did in The Tramp. Similarly, both men are everyman characters and their misadventures happen in everyday situations.

Johnny Depp

Johnny Depp
Johnny Depp moved to Hollywood to pursue his dreams of being a rockstar.

One of the most eccentric actors of modern times, Johnny Depp films have grossed over $8 billion. Born in Owensboro, Kentucky in 1963, Depp’s early life is one of frequent moves, divorce, and music. After being given a guitar when he was 12, Depp dropped out of school to become a musician. After moving to Hollywood to follow a dream into music, Depp was introduced to Nicholas Cage, who helped him get an audition in a movie.

Depp’s Acting Style

Johnny Depp
Depp’s characters like Jack Sparrow are close to the comedy style of Chaplin.

Similar to Charlie Chaplin, Johnny Depp has been applauded for his character versatility. It’s Depp’s characters like Willy Wonka and Jack Sparrow that most closely resemble Chaplin’s characters. Depp’s ability to expressively act using physical body language is very similar to that of Chaplin. More specifically, Depp’s movements and exaggerated actions for pirate Captain Jack Sparrow have been broadly compared to those of Chaplin.

Jim Carrey

Jim Carrey
Jim Carrey has been very successful at using physical comedy.

Born in 1962, actor Jim Carrey has long been one of the biggest box office draws. His roles in films like Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Dumb and Dumber, The Cable Guy, Liar Liar, and The Mask solidified Carrey as a box office superstar. A sketch comedy genius, Carrey has long been typecast as a comedic actor though he has stretched his acting chops into other genres. Carrey’s efforts of making faces in a mirror when he was 8 years old have paid off.

Master of Physical Comedy

Jim Carrey
Movies like Dumb and Dumber allowed Carrey to goof off like Chaplin.

Very much like Charlie Chaplin, Jim Carrey is a master of exaggerated physical comedy. Using physical comedy to find a laugh was Chaplin’s key to success in the silent film era. In more modern Hollywood, Carrey’s body language and facial expressions helped him find a similar level of success. More importantly, both Chaplin and Carrey are terrific at finding the right timing to land their comedy.

Sacha Baron Cohen

Sacha Baron Cohen
Sacha Baron Cohen does a fantastic job of portraying characters, just like Chaplin.

While Sacha Baron Cohen does outrageous comedy in roles like Borat and The Dictator, he can also be far more serious. Born in England in 1971, Cohen’s television career took off after he was named a Best Newcomer at the British Comedy Awards in 1999. From there, his Ali G character became a global sensation. From there he went on to do Borat, which turned into a 2006 film that received widespread critical acclaim.

Character Master

Sacha Baron Cohen
Multiple Hollywood magazines have suggested Cohen is a modern-day Chaplin.

On the surface, Sacha Baron Cohen might not be as close to Chaplin as Depp or Atkinson, but he’s still close. Like Chaplin, Cohen has long used comedy and his characters to shine a light on societal issues. Better yet, Cohen has done this through his outrageous characters just as Chaplin did in The Tramp. Even Vulture magazine proposed Cohen as the “modern Charlie Chaplin”.

Steve Carell

Steve Carell
Steve Carell has made a career in comedy but has also branched into serious roles.

Not only has there been talk about Steve Carell looking like Charlie Chaplin, but a lot of their acting resembles one another. Born in 1962 in Massachusetts, Carell found comedy early by joining The Second City comedy group in Chicago in 1991. By 1996, Carell was on The Dana Carvey Show but it’s on The Daily Show where Carell’s career took off. From there, the sky was the limit in The Office.

Similar Looks

Steve Carell
It has been suggested that Carell looks very similar to Charlie Chaplin.

While Steve Carell isn’t as physical an actor as Charlie Chaplin, there is still a physical comedy aspect that Carell does well. However, it’s the character work of both actors where they are most similar. Carell’s ability to not just do comedy, but also do serious roles gives him the ability to create memorable characters across different genres. There is also an emotional depth both actors can deliver by drawing on their closely related comedic roots.

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