Chaplin is based upon the book, My Autobiography, by Charles Chaplin. The film recounts the life of the legendary actor, producer, composer and director. The story begins with an elderly Charlie (Oscar nominated Robert Downey Jr.) recounting his life story to a writer (Anthony Hopkins).
We are then taken back to Charlie’s earliest childhood memory of performing. His Mother (played by Charlie’s real daughter, Geraldine Chaplin) is striking out on stage as she attempts to sing a song. Young Charlie sees her struggling and hops on stage, winning over the audience.
Charlie’s Father, Charles Chaplin Sr. suffered from severe alcoholism that would take his life at a young age. The Senior Chaplin left his wife, son and stepson, Sydney when Charlie was only a year old. The mental health of his Mother slowly deteriorated and she spent time institutionalized.
Charlie and his brother Sydney are left to fend themselves. They spend time in a British workhouse before pursuing showbiz careers. No one could have predicted how famous and innovative Charlie Chaplin would become.
Chaplin finds his way to America, where her becomes part of the early days of motion pictures, or as they were called then, Flickers.
Charlie creates memorable characters including “The Little Tramp.” He sees making films as an art form and was demanding of himself and those he worked with.
After his success, Chaplin’s biggest problem is his attraction to younger women. He has many controversial relationships and marriages before finding the love of his life, Oona O’Neill (Moira Kelly) daughter of the playwright Eugene O’Neill. When they wed, Chaplin was 54 and Oona only 18. Her Father disowned her.
Charlie also found himself on the bad side of notorious grudge holder, J. Edgar Hoover. Charlie insulted him at a Hollywood party and years later this led to Charlie being denied entry back into the United States after travelling abroad. The Chaplin family settles in Switzerland, where Charlie is working on his autobiography and dies peacefully.