NEW YORK — She might look like an angel, but Kiera Chaplin is hell-bent on proving she’s not. She’s got Oona’s good looks, Charlie’s rebellious streak and she’s ready to rock.
The screen legend’s 20-year-old granddaughter, who is busy recording her first album in Los Angeles, earned a reputation posing for steamy photos during her modeling career, “but I was a rebel way before that,” she says. “It’s in my blood. I don’t know if it’s the Chaplin side or the Irish side, but I’ve always been tough.”
She certainly shook things up during her school days in Switzerland. “I was a nightmare,” admits Chaplin, who was born in Ireland. “The teachers hated me and I was always in trouble. When I was 13, I dyed my hair every color.”
It’s no surprise that the album she’s putting together is full-throttled, raging electro-rock. “I like trash rock, punk and techno,” says Chaplin, who cites both Marilyn Manson and Björk as influences. “When I was modeling I was asked by a couple of record labels to sing something that was all put together, you know, like Britney Spears — a fake thing. But I was never interested in doing that.”
And though over the past few years Chaplin has appeared in several small movies, it will take an equally edgy role to coax her back onto the set. “I’m still open to reading scripts,” she says, “but I’m looking for the perfect roles. I see myself in a certain way and I won’t just play anybody. I want tough parts, the kind that Angelina Jolie does, or action movies, a really cool comedy or maybe a scary movie.”
Lately, Hollywood’s business side has provided more fascination. In partnership with her father, Eugene, and fiancé, Ale de Basseville, Chaplin runs a Swiss entertainment company focused on product placement, film production and distribution and collecting film libraries.
And who in Hollywood wouldn’t take a meeting with a Chaplin? Throughout her life, people have reacted strongly to her iconic last name, but never more so than in Los Angeles, where she has lived for the past year-and-a-half. “It’s really weird,” she says. “You meet some people who will hate you for it and some people who will love you for it.”
This story first appeared in the March 17, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Though she couldn’t be less interested in modeling, Chaplin nonetheless contributed a electro-peppy song to “Fashion Lounge,” a dance music CD compiled by Paolo Zampolli of ID Models, to be released Tuesday. “Modeling was just a phase,” she says. “It’s what I did to get away from home and do my own thing.” And Chaplin, in case you hadn’t noticed, is dead set on doing her own thing.