This week, Kate Hardy talks about another gorgeous Brit: Ben Chaplin.
There’s one Male on Monday I’ve always thought was underrated...
Benedict John Greenwood was born in Windsor in 1970, the son of an engineer and a drama teacher. Being a bit of a non-conformist, he didn’t stay at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama – he left after a year, worked to support himself as a statistician for the London Transport Authority, and ade his own way into the business. (His stage name is actually his mother’s maiden name – he’s no relation to Charlie.)
I first saw him in the TV show Game On and his intense, dark good looks immediately made me add him to my mental list of hero material.
But where he really blossomed for me was in The Truth About Cats and Dogs – which is one of my all-time favourite films. I loved the idea of taking Cyrano de Bergerac and twisting it round (rats, they beat me to it). It was all about how voice and personality can make you fall in love with someone; and how perceptions of beauty can be turned on their head. (And yes, we all know I'm a sucker for a story with dogs in it. Except for 'Marley and Me' - haven't seen it, and not going to, because the excerpt from the book in the Sainsbury's magazine made me bawl my eyes out and the kids say I'm banned from watching weepies with them!)
Ben didn’t get sucked into all the Hollywood glitz – he came back to London to work on the stage, and was nominated for the Olivier Award for Best Supporting Performer for The Glass Menagerie, He was also nominated for Broadway's 2004 Tony Award as Best Actor (Featured Role - Play) for The Retreat from Moscow.
In between, he’s worked on quirky films and period films, including Washington Square, The Thin Red Line and (this year – a film I’m looking forward to) Dorian Gray.
And I was really delighted, the year before last, when I took the kids to the cinema to see The Water Horse and discovered that he was in it. Although the film’s all about the kelpie and a little boy adjusting to the loss of his father in the war, there was an untold love story there that lit up quite a few lightbulbs for me.
He keeps his private life exactly that way – extremely private. And although he doesn’t see himself settling down, his home is definitely where his loved ones are:
“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 traveller. 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.”
Kate Hardy has a couple of books out this month. In the US, Playboy Boss, Pregnancy of Passion is out on the shelves, and in the UK (towards the end of the month) you can get an early copy of Temporary Boss, Permanent Mistress (aka the Northern Lights book - the one with the reindeer!).
You can find out more about these books, and Kate, on her website (http://www.katehardy.com/) and her blog (http://katehardy.blogspot.com/)