Meet Charlotte Lewis, England’s Irrepressible Entry in the Starlet Wars
Charlotte Lewis (b. 8/7/67) made her film debut as a teenager in the 1986 Roman Polanski film Pirates. Her exotic beauty comes from her Irish mother and Iraqi-Chilean father. She followed it that same year with the female lead in The Golden Child alongside Eddie Murphy.
Later appearances include the film Tripwire (1990) and Storyville (1992, opposite James Spader). She had a co-starring role in Men of War (1995, alongside Dolph Lundgren). Lewis appeared in the 2003 film Hey DJ.
Lewis also appeared in a cover-featured pictorial in the July 1993 issue of Playboy magazine.
Charlotte was childhood friends with British filmmaker Jon Jacobs. Their friendship led to them working together on the film Hey DJ (2003).
Later on, in 2004, Charlotte moved back to London, England and gave birth to a son.
On May 14, 2010, Charlotte Lewis and her Los Angeles-based attorney Gloria Allred accused director Roman Polanski of sexually assaulting the actress when she was 16 years old, prior to the two working together on Pirates.
Prosecutors in Los Angeles confirmed that they interviewed Lewis in connection with the allegations. According to Lewis, the alleged incident occurred at Polanski’s apartment in Paris. Previously in an interview which she gave in 1999, Charlotte stated that she had been Roman Polanski’s girlfriend for six months after the shooting of Pirates.
She said that “I knew that Roman had done something bad in the United States, but I wanted to be his lover”.
The British actress who claims Roman Polanski “abused” her when she was 16 says the director told her he slept with all his leading ladies.
Charlotte Lewis, who came forward about her history with Polanski at a press conference Friday,
told London’s Daily Mail this weekend she initially refused the director’s advances when she met him in 1983 to audition for “Pirates.”
‘He just said very coldly, “If you’re not a big enough girl to have sex with me, you’re not big enough to do the screen test.
I must sleep with every actress that I work with, that’s how I get to know them, how I mould them,” ‘
Though the 16-year-old left Polanski’s Paris apartment claiming she had a boyfriend, she later returned
and eventually won the role in “Pirates.””I never told my mother what had happened,” Lewis told the Mail.
“I was just too ashamed. I needed to do this movie, the money was good – I was being paid £1,200 a month.
My mother and I were living in housing association accommodation and this was a life-changing amount of money.”
Lewis, now 42, says she did not go the authorities at the time because she took the blame for what happenened.”He sexually abused me and manipulated me in the worst way,” she told the press. “He has scarred me and the experience has definitely put a strain on my life.”Lewis now wants Polanski to “get what he deserves” and has given a statement to Los Angeles prosecutors outlining what happened that night.”I’m telling the truth and Roman knows I’m telling the truth,” she told the press Friday. “I will never forgive Polanski for what he has done to me.”Lewis is most famous for her role opposite Eddie Murphy in “The Golden Child” in 1986.Polanski is currently under house arrest in Switzlerland waiting to hear if he is extradited to the US to face charges for the alleged rape of a 13-year-old girl in 1977.
Below is an excerpt written in 1993 about Charlotte, by Writer-Producer Michael Angeli:
“Charlotte Lewis? She’s not your type,” a movie producer friend of mine happily concluded, as though an imaginary list of contenders had been reduced by one.
“Not my type? But she made love upside down while watching a fashion video,” I told him. “That’s my type.”
“That was a character you wrote into your film,” he said. “You created that type. That wasn’t Charlotte.”
Yeah, so maybe I did write the screenplay for that movie. It was called Sketch Artist and it came out on cable a year ago. But the fact is she still did what I wrote. And anyone willing to indulge my fantasies – which are equal parts sex and humor – earns a place on my list of would-be mates.
Charlotte, who is half-Irish, half-Arabic – a combination that endows her with mystery items for eyes- holds within her a synthesis of exotic and wholesome features. Kind of an R-rated Maria Brady. If Charlotte were lying on her side and cooperating, you could roll a croquet ball under the wicked curve where her hip meets her waist.
This is cello-playing Charlotte, the one who likes beer on hot days, steals pepper mills and bric-a-brac from restaurants, burns incense in her car and takes the nitrous oxide when she has dental work. Her London accent turns “migraine” into “Me-Graine,” her phrase of the month is “his sorry ass” and, lapsing into French existentialism, she murmurs, “No one rally knows what anyone deserves, but no one deserves to be hated.” Three minutes after we met she was singing Elvis Costello’s The Juliet Letters to me.
“I could never go out with a writer,” she tells me over salads that look like forest settings for a toy train. Such is lunch at Ivy, the Los Angeles restaurant where we met. “I know these writers who have to hibernate, rent this cabin in Alaska to get their work done,” she goes on. “It would be, like, ‘What do you mean, you can’t go out with me tonight? I’ll sit in the corner and I promise I won’t distract you.'”
Roman Polanski was the first director who was professionally distracted by Charlotte Lewis. She was just 17 when he hired her to spend nine months as the only woman (she played a Spanish princess) in his film Pirates.
“Roman’s girlfriend at the time was a girlfriend of mine and she introduced us,” says Charlotte, now 25. “Pirates was, like, part of my youth, part of the time I spent becoming a young woman. It was a strange way to grow up.”
Before you could sing “yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum,” Charlotte landed her second film role, even though critics keelhauled Pirates and audiences stayed away. Without formal training (“I studied automobile engines in school and missed my walling as a mechanic,” she notes) or even the usual acting aspirations, Lewis was on a jet, coming to America. She would co-star in The Golden Child with Eddie Murphy, who was stomping around Hollywood like a huge science-fiction creature after the success of Beverly Hills Cop. And that’s where she really learned the meaning of bad.
“It took me quite a while to get the American sense of humor,” she says. “I didn’t get that bad means good, or if someone glares at you, it means they dig the shit out of your work. In England, no one talks or acts like that, this brother talk. Now I actually love it and would love to talk it, but it probably wouldn’t go down well on me.”
After Child, Charlotte did something unprecedented in the actress rat rate of L.A. She took time off. She gathered some friends for a ruck-sack tour of the globe. There were trips to India, Singapore and Africa. Then it was back to the fiscal reality of room, board and heating bills – not for herself but for her mum in London.