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In the Limelight: Being John & Geraldine
by Pat Frickey

It’s a long trek up many flights of stairs to the upper gallery of the historic HAU1, the Art Nouveau style theater which miraculously survived WWII without significant damage. Downstairs there is impressive wood paneling, upstairs “the gods” have vintage crammed seats which are annually packed with Berlinale guests eager to watch interviews of international cinematic giants.

John Malkovich and Geraldine Chaplin were in Berlin for their film SENECA - ON THE CREATION OF EARTHQUAKES.When interviewer Dana Linssen introduced them on stage, Geraldine resembled a Harlequin teenager, wearing a colorful cowl, brightly colored leggings, flamboyant Berlinale socks, and a T-shirt emblazed with a dinosaur and a crown. In contrast John appeared professorial, dressed in a tailored sports coat, a white dress shirt, a discreet tie, and a tangerine-colored pullover.

Both calculated visual images captured their onstage personas.

It is John’s remarkable voice which draws you in, whispery, seductive, erudite. He is humble to a fault, but it is a never-suffers-fools-gladly kind of voice. Each word is weighed and measured before it leaves his lips. Geraldine, on the other hand, loves the quick quip; she is always looking for and getting the audience’s approval. She especially came to life speaking of her mentor/father Charlie Chaplin and later on, his Roma roots. She blatantly reveres her co-star John who is almost ten years her junior and whose first role was as an extra, a bartender in contrast to her starring role in A WEDDING (1978) directed by Robert Altman. She admitted John had memorized all the lines in SENECA, including hers, and she leant on him during filming. She also deferred to him during the interview when the questions got tough.

The scheduled hour flew by. The actors stayed an additional 40 minutes to patiently and sometimes profoundly answer questions from the enraptured audience. In the Limelight, onstage at HAU1 John & Geraldine were a class act.