Geraldine Leigh Chaplin was born in Santa Monica, California, to Oona Chaplin (née O'Neill) and legendary entertainer Charles Chaplin (A.K.A. Charlie Chaplin). She is a granddaughter of playwright Eugene O'Neill and a great-granddaughter of stage actor James O'Neill. She attended the Royal Ballet Academy in London. She was discovered by David Lean when she was dancing in Paris, which led to her role in Il dottor Zivago (1965). She has two children, Shane and Oona Chaplin.