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Free Flick Fridays: Chaplin

Robert Downey, Jr. can do anything. Before you see him take on Sherlock Holmes this Christmas, watch him as film legend Charlie Chaplin in Sir Richard Attenborough's biopic.



Dir. Richard Attenborough (1992)

Robert Downey, Jr.'s two Oscar nominations make an amusing pair of bookended actors. Most recently was 2008, when he was nominated for Tropic Thunder, delivering a wicked parody of the pomposity of actors with his so-method-he-went-blackface Kirk Lazarus, and then there was 1992, where he was eerily on-point as one of the true legends of film, Charles Chaplin, better known to you as Charlie Chaplin.

Perhaps he had to go Lazarus in order to get to the root of Chaplin; but really, Downey's wildman antics (his publicized drug difficulties took up the rest of the 90s) and general sadness-underneath-the-geniality lends a gravitas to the actor, who was in his late twenties when he played the role. Attenborough's film, based on Chaplin's autobiography and David Robinson's book Chaplin: His Life and Art is wildly ambitious (the original cut was nearly four hours long)—an epic ride through Chaplin's life—and Downey is up for the many transformations. He's mesmerizing, whether portraying Chaplin as a young man in vaudeville, figuring out his sad clown persona, or even up to Chaplin's elderly years, where he's in exile in Switzerland. And the stuff in between Chaplin's origin and his death? Well, it's the very roots of the film industry, featuring a host of actors from Moira Kelly to an impressive Kevin Kline, and the results are fascinating.

Watch the film now for free on Hulu:




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