Susan Sarandon - Actors and Actresses

Nationality: American. Born: Susan Tomalin in New York City, 4 October 1946; grew up in Edison, New Jersey. Education: Attended Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C., B.A., 1968. Family: Married the actor Chris Sarandon, 1967 (divorced 1979); daughter with the writer Franco Amurri; two sons with actor Tim Robbins. Career: 1970—film debut in Joe ; member of improvisational group, New York; 1981—stage debut in A Couple White Chicks

Susan Sarandon (left) with Julia Roberts in Stepmom
Susan Sarandon (left) with Julia Roberts in Stepmom
Sitting around Talking. Awards: London Critics Circle ALFS Award for Actress of the Year, for White Palace , 1990; London Critics Circle ALFS Award for Actress of the Year, National Board of Review Best Actress Award, for Thelma and Louise , 1991; Women in Film Crystal Award, 1994; BAFTA Film Award for Best Leading Actress, for The Client , 1995; Best Actress Academy Award, and Screen Actors Guild Award for drama actor, for Dead Man Walking , 1995; San Sebastian International Film Festival Honorary Award of the City of Locarno, 1995; Munich Film Festival CineMerit Award, 1997; ShoWest Humanitarian Award, 1998. Agent: William Morris Agency, 1350 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10019, U.S.A.

Films as Actress:


Joe (Avildsen) (as Melissa Compton)


Lady Liberty (Monicelli) (as Sallyi)


The Haunting of Rosalind (for TV) (as Dita)


The Satan Murders (Swift—for TV) (as Kate); The Front Page (Wilder) (as Peggy Grant); The Great Waldo Pepper (Hill) (as Mary Beth); Lovin' Molly (Lumet) (as Sarah); F. Scott Fitzgerald and the Last of the Belles (Schaefer—for TV)


The Rocky Horror Picture Show (Sharmon) (as Janet Weiss)


One Summer Love ( Dragonfly ) (Cates—for TV) (as Chloe)


The Other Side of Midnight (Jarrott) (as Catherine Douglas)


Pretty Baby (Malle) (as Hattie); King of the Gypsies (Pierson) (as Rose); Checkered Flag or Crash (Gibson); The Great Smokey Roadblock ( The Last of the Cowboys ) (Leone) (as Ginny, + co-pr)


Something Short of Paradise (Helpern) (as Madeleine Ross)


Loving Couples (Smight) (as Stephanie)


Atlantic City (Malle) (as Sally); Owen Marshall, Counselor at Law ( Pattern of Morality ) (Kulik—for TV)


The Tempest (Mazursky) (as Aretha); Who Am I This Time? (Demme—for TV)


The Hunger (Tony Scott) (as Sarah Roberts); The Buddy System (Glenn Jordan) (as Emily); Talking Nicaragua (Engel—doc)


Compromising Positions (Perry) (as Judith Singer); Io e il duce ( Mussolini and I ) (Negrin—for TV)


Women of Valor (Kulik—for TV)


The Witches of Eastwick (Miller) (as Jane Spofford)


Bull Durham (Shelton) (as Annie Savoy); Sweet Hearts Dance (Greenwald) (as Sandra Boon); Da grande (Amurri)


The January Man (O'Connor) (as Christine Starkey); A Dry White Season (Palcy) (as Melanie Bruwer); The Monkey People (doc) (as narrator)


White Palace (Mandoki) (as Nora Baker); Through the Wire (doc) (as narrator)


Thelma and Louise (Ridley Scott) (as Louise Sawyer)


Bob Roberts (Robbins) (as news anchor Tawna Titan); Lorenzo's Oil (Miller) (as Michaela Odone); The Player (Altman); Light Sleeper (Schrader) (as Ann)


The Client (Schumacher) (as Reggie Love); Little Women (Armstrong) (as Marmee March); Safe Passage (as Mag Singer)


Dead Man Walking (Robbins) (as Sister Helen Prejean)


James and the Giant Peach (Selick) (as voice)


Father Roy: Inside the School of Assassins (Richter—doc) (as Narrator); 187: Documented (Fong—docudrama) (as Voice)


Stepmom (Chris Columbus) (as Jackie Harrison + exec pr); Illuminata (Turturro) (as Celimene); Twilight (Brenton) (as Catherine Ames)


Joe Gould's Secret (Tucci) (as Alice Neel); Baby's in Black (Silberling); Cradle Will Rock (Robbins) (as Margherita Sarfatti); Earthly Possessions (Lapine—for TV) (as Charlotte Emory) Anywhere But Here (Wang) (as Adele August)


By SARANDON: articles—

Interview in Inter/View (New York), June 1983.

Interview in the Guardian (London), 24 May 1989.

Interview by Claudia Dreifus, in Playboy , May 1989.

Interview by Graham Fuller, in Interview , June 1991.

Interview by W. Schneider, in American Premiere , vol. 13, no. 1, 1993.

"Susan Sarandon: Uncompromising Positions," interview by Gavin Smith, in Film Comment , March-April 1993.

"Susan Sarandon: Lover, Lawyer, Marmee," interview by Bruce Newman, in New York Times , 17 July 1994.

"Susan Sarandon: The Bigger-Picture Revolution," interview by Graham Fuller, in Interview , October 1994.

"Susan Sarandon on Movies, Men and Motherhood," interview with M. Frankel, in Movieline (Escondido), January/February 1995.

On SARANDON: articles—

Kessler, Stephen, "Extremities," in Film Comment (New York), April 1985.

Farber, Stephen, "Who Is She This Time?," in American Film (Washington, D.C.), May 1983; see also June 1988.

Current Biography 1989 , New York, 1989.

Queenan, Joe, "Miss Congeniality," in Rolling Stone , 9 February 1989.

Yagoda, Ben, "The Prime of Susan Sarandon," in American Film , May 1991.

Ruuth, M., "Susan Sarandon," in Chaplin , vol. 35, no. 2, 1993.

Cagle, Jess, "Laying down the Law," in Entertainment Weekly , 29 July 1994.

Reel West (Burnaby), August/September 1994.

Michiels, D., "Body and Brains," in Film & TV (Stockholm), May 1995.

Abramowitz, R., "Mother Superior," in Premier (Boulder), January 1996.

Lee, C., "Star style," in Movieline (Escondido), September 1996.

Stars (Mariembourg), no. 27, 1996; no. 28, 1997.

Thomson, D. and others, "Who's the Best Actress in Hollywood?" in Movieline (Escondido), November 1996.

Norman, Barry, "Small-time Losers, Big-time Dreamers," in Radio Times (London), 18 October 1997.

* * *

Flashing the most hypnotic movie star eyes since Bette Davis overworked her optic nerves, Susan Sarandon graduated from utility performer ( Joe , Other Side of Midnight ) to respected actress ( Atlantic City , television's Who Am I This Time? ) to one of the most durable stars of contemporary cinema. At an age when most actresses are scrambling for second leads and TV sitcoms, Sarandon became the rare kind of star you would go to see in anything. Unfortunately, at earlier periods in her career, she seemed to appear in just about anything ( The Great Smokey Roadblock ) and got by on cover girl looks alone ( The Great Waldo Pepper , The Front Page ) until Louis Malle recognized that her European sensuality was being miscast as Apple Pie Americana. Once Malle released her self-deprecating wit and unabashed sexuality, Sarandon seemed to relax on-screen.

Having shucked off the sorority sister wholesomeness (that netted her cult status as the square in Rocky Horror Picture Show ), Sarandon plowed through the eighties in Hollywooden properties save for one bright spot: a sassy amateur detective in Compromising Positions , the first evidence an entire film could be fashioned around her star-presence.

In 1987 she was asked (via Cher's clout) to switch roles with that living legend in the unaccountably popular Witches of Eastwick and was then convinced to audition for Bull Durham. She landed the juicy part of Annie Savoy and has not looked back. Covering all of that rollicking romance's bases, her screen persona emerged: a sensualist who flaunts conventions because the rules make no sense to her. Obliterating the double standard that has always plagued popular entertainment, Sarandon did not accept the Madonna or Whore dichotomy, but instead created the figure of a sexual missionary who made no apology for her largesse. A lucky project for her, Bull Durham introduced her to co-star Tim Robbins, her now long-time companion with whom she has had two children.

Refining her blue collar earth mother image further by bedding a younger man in White Palace , Sarandon then struck a nerve in the feminist fantasia Thelma and Louise. Harmoniously teamed with Geena Davis, Sarandon's fiercely guarded vulnerability lit up this turnabout-is-fair-play escapism and made the film seem more novel than it was.

Heart-wrenchingly, she next threw herself into the challenge of interpreting an unsympathetic character, a grimly determined mother alienating anyone who rains on her anti-medical establishment parade in Lorenzo's Oil as she seeks a cure for her dying son. In this unwieldy movie, which is a terminal illness weepie so clinical it turns into a horror film, crusading Sarandon provides the bleak life-and-death struggles with a heartbeat.

This unwavering, nurturing quality is an integral part of Sarandon's refurbished appeal. Known for her humanitarian efforts offscreen, Sarandon's compassion is imprinted on her roles as a mother surrogate outsmarting the Goodfellas in The Client (a creaky vehicle that solidified her box office power), as a Civil War matriarch role-modeling her brood in a perceptive remake of Little Women and as a nun grappling with capital punishment in Dead Man Walking. Even cast as a recreational drug dispenser in Light Sleeper , she zeroed in on this weary hedonist's speck of conscience. If any one scene crystallizes her image as fearless protector, it is the sequence in A Safe Place , in which she risks her life fending off a vicious dog threatening her son. Ferocity and passion characterize her every move as she invests the often-disparaged role of American mother with quiet heroism.

Whereas other stars condescend to mother roles to preserve the last vestiges of stardom, Sarandon has rediscovered herself in such parts without mummifying herself as a sexless, aproned martyr. More vividly beautiful with the passage of time, Sarandon unapologetically shows audiences that there is more to womanhood than Sharon Stone can reveal.

Sadly, a post-Oscar malaise has taken some of the steam out of her career; she seems less edgy and driven. Stuck in a child-rearing rut, if she wasn't a terminally ill mother in Stepmom , she was a terminally confused one in Anywhere But Here. Even in the Cable-TV May-December love story, Earthly Possessions (a slipshod adaptation of an Anne Tyler novel), this firebrand seemed to be playing a mother figure to her own romantic lead. Surprisingly, when Sarandon took a vacation from nurturing, she gave her least convincing interpretation of the decade. As the femme fatale in the flimsily written Twilight , Sarandon valiantly tried to find a substantive character to play in this pastiche film noir and failed to embody the filmmaker's vision of a temptress.

Will Sarandon go on being the Patron Saint of the PTA, while aging male stars go on playing a variety of roles? If only American moviegoers could imagine female stars like Sarandon masterminding crimes, leading expeditions, and saving the world! There's nothing wrong with addressing all sort of mother roles, as long as the inevitable next step isn't grandmother parts, with nothing else in between. A European director would know how to showcase her worldly wise personality (Imagine her teaming with Almodovar). Always a continental spirit, Sarandon runs the risk of being short-changed by that American short-sightedness about women of an certain age.

—Robert Pardi

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