1. Elizabeth Thalmann in The Damned (1969)
Rampling plays the wife of Herbert Thalmann, vice president of a wealthy industrialist family’s firm. While Herbert is able to escape the Gestapo, Rampling’s Elizabeth is sent to Dachau, where she dies. This was a more tragic role than many of the roles Rampling would go on to play.
2. Anne Boleyn in Henry VIII and His Six Wives (1972)
But Rampling did play another tragic figure in the historical drama Henry VIII and His Six Wives. Like so many of Henry VIII’s wives, Anne Boleyn was beheaded for her failure to produce a male heir.
3. Consuella in Zardoz (1974)
There’s a reason Zardoz is regarded as infamously terrible: it really is. But it’s a fun spectacle to endure at least once, particularly with Rampling as the psychic Eternal Consuella. As silly as it all is, Rampling does get some powerful (and seriously sexy) scenes.
4. Lucia Atherton in The Night Porter (1974)
Rampling continued to take on controversial and sexually explicit roles. In The Night Porter, she plays a former concentration camp inmate who has a sadomasochistic relationship with a former Nazi officer, who was once her lover and tormentor.
5. As Helen Grayle in Farewell, My Lovely (1975)
Rampling crossed over to American audiences with the noir film Farewell, My Lovely, based on the Raymond Chandler novel of the same name. Unsurprisingly, Rampling plays a dangerous (and married) seductress.
6. Dorrie in Stardust Memories (1980)
In Woody Allen’s send-up of Fellini’s 8 1/2, Rampling is Dorrie, Sandy’s haunting ex-girlfriend. Allen said, “She was just right for that part … I mean, she is so beautiful and so sexy and so interesting. She has an interesting neurotic quality.” It also helped that Rampling had been in her fair share of actual Italian art films.
7. Laura Fischer in The Verdict (1982)
It’s clear why a character would fall for Rampling — but trusting her is another matter. She plays off her ability to walk that line in The Verdict, which has Rampling spying on Paul Newman’s Frank Galvin while sleeping with him.
8. Margaret Krusemark in Angel Heart (1987)
While Angel Heart is classified as a psychological horror film, it has a lot of noir elements, which of course makes it the perfect fit for Rampling. She plays a wealthy southern debutante with — you guessed it — a dark secret. This one involves voodoo magic.
9. Marie Drillon in Under the Sand (2000)
Rampling took on small roles through the ’80s and ’90s, but it wasn’t until she began collaborating with director François Ozon that she really began working again. She has credited him with drawing her back into it. Rampling was nominated for several acting awards for her work in Under the Sand.
10. Sarah Morton in Swimming Pool (2003)
Her collaboration with Ozon in Swimming Pool might be her most notable role. Again, Rampling stuck with dark, sexual themes and characters, as in this erotic thriller. While Swimming Pool has many fans, others have criticized its intentionally ambiguous ending. As in her first Ozon film, Rampling was nominated for several acting awards.
11. Ellen in Heading South (2005)
At almost 60, Rampling did not shy away from highly sexual roles. In Heading South, she plays a sexually frustrated woman who travels to Haiti to engage in sexual tourism with young men. The film earned two awards at the Venice Film Festival.
12. Milena Gardosh in Basic Instinct 2 (2006)
Even in more mainstream American films, Rampling skewed toward thrillers with extreme sexual undertones. No, she doesn’t mimic Sharon Stone’s notorious crotch shot in the first Basic Instinct, but her character does face off Stone’s Catherine Tramell.
13. Countess Spencer in The Duchess (2008)
Rampling is more subdued in The Duchess, for which she traveled back to the late 18th Century. Although many of her roles do fall into the category of sexy noirs, she has no problem exhibiting range.
14. Gaby in Melancholia (2011)
Rampling is a mother in Melancholia, but as you might expect she’s not very maternal. In the first section, “Justine,” she insults her daughter Justine, played by Kirsten Dunst, in a toast at Justine’s wedding. She’s a negative, damaging presence overall.
15. Anna Welles in I, Anna (2012)
But Rampling did return to noir in I, Anna, written and directed by her son Barnaby Southcombe. Again, she plays a mysterious woman who becomes romantically involved with a detective investigating a brutal murder. Could her son have cast anyone else in the part?
16. Eva Delectorskaya in Restless (2012)
For her work in the British miniseries Restless, Rampling earned a SAG Award nomination. She plays the adult Eva Delectorskaya, who reveals to her daughter her past life as a spy during World War II.