Hailing from the United Kingdom, Ben Chaplin Winona Ryder's co-star in Lost Souls (opening Friday) does not list himself among those who always beheld that terribly typical dream of being a movie star.
"I did want to be a professional football player, like all the English boys, but by the age of 13 it was quite apparent that wasn't going to happen," he confesses with a laugh, recalling his early affinity for the sport Americans know as soccer.
With his goal of scoring goals dashed, Chaplin took a shine to drama, despite the pesky threats of peer pressure. "Where I went to school, acting wasn't something that boys really admitted wanting to do," he notes. "It was a bit... 'girlie.'"
Nonetheless, young Chaplin gave it a shot and soon realized performing for crowds was in fact his destiny. "At the age of 16 I did a proper play, A Private Ear, by Peter Shaffer. It was the first time I felt... well, not to blow my own trumpet, but I could sense from the audience's reaction I was doing something I was good at."
To this day, though carrying a special place in his heart for stage work, Chaplin has appeared in the films The Truth About Cats & Dogs and The Thin Red Line, among others. But it was Lost Souls, in which his mild-mannered character threatens to facilitate Satan's ascension as a malevolent messiah, which paired the dashing gent with Ryder, whom he had met five years earlier at a party and whom the actor reveals was the object of his teen ardor.
"Winona was like a heartthrob for me," says Chaplin, who remembers his first viewing of Ryder's 1989 dark comedy, Heathers, to be a tricky time. "I was in love with my girlfriend, and I was in love with Winona Ryder.
"Working with her was fun. She's every bit as gorgeous in real life," he marvels, before adding in jest, "But I didn't tell her about the posters of her on my wall."