In an interview on Inside the Actors Studio (1994), Robert Downey, Jr. said that while preparing for the movie, he watched all of Charlie Chaplin's movies. When asked what how he felt about them, he said, "They scared the hell out of me."
While researching his role, Robert Downey, Jr. visited the Museum of the Moving Image in London, England and persuaded the staff to let him try on one of Charlie Chaplin's "Little Tramp" suits and boots. The latter fit him perfectly, and he found a cigar stub in one of the pockets, which he subsequently treasured.
When Charlie Chaplin is at work on Shoulder Arms (1918), he asks his cameraman, Roland Totheroh, how the light is. Totheroh (and the rest of the crew) replies, "Better down at Barney's bar." That was the signal for production to end for the day. The "light" referred the light beer served at Barney Oldfield's bar, which was the favorite drink and hangout for the crew after filming.
Geraldine Chaplin recalled that when she first saw Robert Downey, Jr. in full costume, she was so awestruck on how much he resembled her late father that she needed a moment to collect her thoughts to even speak.
Kevin Kline was originally considered by Producer and Director Sir Richard Attenborough to play Charlie Chaplin. Kline originally turned down the role of Douglas Fairbanks because his child had just been born. Attenborough agreed to delay the shooting of Kline's scenes for a month.
When Charlie Chaplin (Robert Downey, Jr.) arrives in Hollywood (to join Mack Sennett (Dan Aykroyd)), a movie is being made. Chaplin joins in and improvises a complex scene. This was actually the final chase sequence from The Adventurer (1917). The location for the last shots of the opening sequence of the same movie were used when Chaplin takes Oona Chaplin (Moira Kelly) on a tour of his old haunts, just before they leave for Europe.
This movie was originally called "Charlie", as Chaplin was known among his friends, family, and fans. The makers of the Cliff Robertson movie, Charly (1968), complained that the title would lead to confusion with their movie, so this movie had to be renamed "Chaplin".
This movie was to be distributed by Universal Pictures, but the studio wanted a bigger name than Robert Downey Jr. in the leading role, preferring Dustin Hoffman or Billy Crystal. When Producer and Director Sir Richard Attenborough refused to comply, this movie was put into turnaround, and a new producer had to be found. Mario Kassar agreed to take the reins, but demanded that the movie include the later part of Chaplin's life in Switzerland. William Goldman was then brought in to write these new scenes.
Producer and Director Sir Richard Attenborough turned down many movie roles because of obligations to the movies he had directed. Due to the post-production and promotion of this movie, he almost had to do so again when Steven Spielberg offered him the role of John Hammond in Jurassic Park (1993). However, Spielberg offered to move his production schedule to accommodate Attenborough.
Robert Downey, Jr. mentioned in a 2013 interview that during his first audition, Sir Richard Attenborough held up a picture of Tom Cruise and told Downey that he was also considering Cruise for the part. Downey said that he was unsure if Cruise was actually in contention for the role, or whether this was merely a motivational tactic by Attenborough.
Charles Chaplin's eyes were often described as strikingly blue, by those who knew him. Robert Downey Jr.'s are hazel. They look dark brown, but the brighter lighting of his face in several scenes in Restoration (1995) revealed his eyes to be hazel with green highlights.
Bryan Forbes' discarded script had a different beginning, and focused on some darker elements of Charlie Chaplin's life and personality. Although his script was not used, the WGA ruled that Forbes received writing credit, because much of the movie's framework was derived from his script.
In this movie, Roland Totheroh works with Charlie Chaplin at Keystone in 1914. Their working relationship actually started a year later. It lasted from 1915 until Chaplin was exiled from the United States in 1952.
Like many composers, John Barry, who scored this movie, developed a recognizable style. Part of a recognizable style is instrumental choices, melodic cues and striking certain notes or chords. In Barry's score for this movie, particularly, many similarities to his score for Out of Africa (1985) can be heard.
In the first scene, J. Edgar Hoover (Kevin Dunn) is arguing with Charlie Chaplin (Robert Downey, Jr.), guests at the table include Marion Davies (Heather McNair) and William Randolph Hearst (Jack Ritschel), both of whom played important roles in Chaplin's life.