Coming from a lineage of unique thespian talent, Oona Chaplin, the granddaughter of Charlie Chaplin, the great granddaughter of American playwright Eugene O’Neill, daughter of actress Geraldine Chaplin and Chilean cinematographer Patricio Castilla, stars opposite Jack Huston, Scott Eastwood, Britt Robertson, and Alan Alda in the “The Longest Ride,” an epic drama interweaving two love stories, linked across the decades from the bestselling romantic novel of the same title by Nicholas Sparks.
Best known for her role as Talisa in the worldwide hit television series “Game of Thrones,” in “The Longest Ride,” Chaplin stars as Ruth circa 1940, a beautiful Austrian immigrant in America, meets Ira, (Huston), a local man working in the family’s clothing store and they fall in love. While in present day North Carolina, Sophia (Robertson), an art history student falls for Luke (Eastwood), a bull rider. Luke and Sophia rescue a man who is severely injured in a car crash. It turns out to be Ira, now an elderly widower (Alan Alda). Sophia befriends Ira and learns about his extraordinary life and marriage to Ruth.
Chaplin plays the exuberant Ruth and is pitch perfect as the exquisite girl from Vienna who sweeps young Ira (Jack Huston) off his feet. Ira grew up in North Carolina and leads a simple life; Ruth is artistic, intellectual and cultured, with sophisticated sensibilities. They come from different worlds but fall in love. As the story unravels, and when Ira returns from World War II the couple faces some serious challenges where art is a central theme in the film.
After finding the actors for the contemporary love story, the filmmakers turned to the task of casting the couple that inspires Sophia, beginning with Oona Chaplin, who plays Ruth. “Oona really selected herself for the role,” says Sparks. She was just so vibrant. Her energy was just what we were looking for in casting the role.”
For Chaplin, the fact that she could portray a character from ages 17 through 45 was a dream come true. “I really respect Ruth because she’s very strong,” says the actress. “Like Ruth, I was fortunate to have an upbringing that was full of different types of culture. The [film’s flashback] historical context of the Second World War and having to leave behind everything that you know, was an interesting thing to explore.”
Chaplin enthuses on the film’s theme, ““I feel that this film is playing tribute to all of the women who have sacrificed things in their lives for their men and have been behind them, which is an honorable position to be in. Ruth is so strong. Over the centuries, there have been so many women who have been unconditionally behind the men in their lives, saying: ‘don’t worry, I’m here, I love you and I’ll be with you forever.’ You can never really know if you will do that yourself, the kind of thing Ruth does, until you are faced with something that tests you. But I think women today are very different from Ruth. We are more selfish, because we’ve been promised everything: the perfect man, the perfect career, the perfect house. We are conflicted and I think we give up on relationships too readily. I think we need to ask: ‘What do you want out of this relationship? What are you willing to sacrifice?’ That’s what relationships are all about. That is what this film is about: sacrifice.”