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Searching for Charlie

February 05, 1989|Garth Pearce in London

When we heard that the likes of Kevin Kline and Dustin Hoffman were interested in the plum role of Charlie Chaplin in Sir Richard Attenborough's $37-million bio-pic of the comic genius, we ran it by the Oscar-winning director. He wouldn't confirm or deny, but did tell us that eight stars have "applied" for the part.

Attenborough has certain requirements: "He will be aged 30 to 35, so he can look much younger, with a sufficient experience in his eyes to take him through to 80. But he will have to be small. His body is more important than his face."

While he "idolized" Chaplin, who died in 1977 at 88, Attenborough said his film--part of a three-picture Universal deal--will take a tough look at the actor who created the Little Tramp. All four of Chaplin's wives, plus other women in his life, will be portrayed.

"To make a cleaned-up version of the man's life would be an insult. It will all be there, rags to riches: Poverty in a London workhouse, flogging as a child, controversy in America and his enormous sex appeal."

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