Born in England circa 1945, actress Charlotte Rampling is the daughter of a British colonel who went on to become a NATO commander and relatively successful painter. After attending the Jeanne d'Arc Académie pour Jeunes Filles in Versailles and the prestigious St. Hilda's school in Bushley, England, Rampling worked as a model before making her film debut as a water skier in The Knack...and How to Get It (1965), director Richard Lester's acclaimed sex comedy. Her breakout role, however, wouldn't come until a year later, when she performed opposite Lynn Redgrave as the bitchy but beautiful roommate of the title character in Georgy Girl (1966). Georgy Girl set the standard for Rampling's further work, which, while not always popular with mainstream audiences, could never be conceived of as mundane. Quite the contrary, in fact -- from her role as a hitchhiker in Vanishing Point (1971) to her portrayal of Ann Boleyn in Henry VIII and His Six Wives (1972) to her performance as a woman in love with a chimpanzee in Max My Love (1986), Rampling became notorious for her bold, meaningful characters. Luchino Visconti's The Damned (1969) is no exception to the rule (the incestuous political drama was originally rated X in the United States); neither was her work with Sean Connery in John Boorman's sci-fi adventure Zardoz (1973). That said, Rampling's most intense role was, arguably, that of a concentration camp survivor who is reunited with the Nazi guard (Dirk Bogarde) who tortured her throughout her captivity in 1974's The Night Porter.
In 1975, Rampling starred opposite Robert Mitchum in the post-noir detective thriller Farewell, My Lovely, and offered a passionate rendering of a violent heiress confined to a mental institution in the French/Italian/German collaboration La Chair de l'Orchidée. The actress' success continued to grow throughout the later half of the 1970s, and in 1980, Rampling played a lead role alongside Woody Allen in Stardust Memories, the follow-up to the much-hailed Manhattan. Shortly afterward, Rampling could be seen as the deceitful Laura in director Sidney Lumet's courtroom drama The Verdict (1982) with Paul Newman. Rampling spent much of the mid-'80s filming in Europe; one of her most notable performances during that time was as the mysterious mistress of a murder victim in the French crime thriller On Ne Meurt Que Deux Fois, though she would return to America for Alan Parker's Angel Heart. The heavily praised voodoo-themed crime thriller featured Rampling as an ill-fated woman whose heart is irrevocably extracted from her body.