Celebrity Then And Now
Posted by Ryan Neal
Celebrity Then And Now
Publication: RidiculouslyExtraordinary. Posted by Ryan Neal
Thelma & Louise, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, The Client
Currently Known For:
1975 - Present
October 4, 1946
Thelma & Louise, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, The Client
“How you spend your energy is ultimately what creates who you are.” Academy Award-winner Susan Sarandon launched her career in the 1970s and has spent the last four decades proving her talents as one of Hollywood’s brightest and most talented stars. Sarandon’s film career began in 1970 with her debut in Joe and blossomed five years later when she starred in the popular cult film, The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Adding in credits in Atlantic City (1980), The Witches of Eastwick (1987), and Bull Durham (1988), Sarandon also ventured to the stage with award-winning performances in productions of An Evening with Richard Nixon, A Coupla White Chicks Sitting Around Talking, and Extremities.
By the 1990s, Sarandon was well established in the industry thanks to stellar performances in Thelma & Louise (1991), The Client (1994), and Dead Man Walking (1995), the latter two of which earned her a BAFTA Award for Best Actress and a Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Actress, respectively. Fast forward to the new millennium and Sarandon has continued to build an impressive portfolio with more dramatic and comedic roles in The Lovely Bones (2009), The Meddler (2015), and A Bad Moms Christmas (2017). She’s also used her fortune and fame to take a stand as a political, social, and civil rights activist!Early Life and Career Beginnings
“It’s a miracle when something actually turns out well because there are so many ways for it to go wrong. That’s why I learned many years ago to focus on the process and have as much fun as I can in the process.” The eldest of nine children born to Lenora Marie and Phillip Leslie Tomalin, Susan Abigail Tomalin came into this world on October 4, 1946, in Queens, New York City, New York. Her father was a well-known name in the Big Apple and took on a variety of jobs as a nightclub singer, an advertising executive, and a television producer. This allowed her father to provide for his family very well as they settled down in Edison, New Jersey and were raised in a devout Roman Catholic home.
“I was very withdrawn and definitely played with dolls well into the eighth grade,” Sarandon said of her childhood. “But I was the oldest of nine, and that grounded me in a way that I don’t think I would have been grounded otherwise. So, I was able to—or forced to—function practically. But I think, by nature, I was someone who lived in my head, in my imagination. I wrote what I thought were plays, but probably would have been more like movies. It never occurred to me to act. I wasn’t that outgoing. But being a Catholic, I was drawn to that mystery of the Latin and the smoke and the mirrors and all of that. That part of my disposition definitely did lend itself to finding my way to the back door of some artistic pursuit.”
Sarandon graduated from Edison High School in 1964 and, by this time, dreamed of becoming a professional actress and performer. She enrolled at The Catholic University of America in the fall of 1964 and spent the next four years studying theatre arts. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Drama and studied under renowned drama coach Father Gilbert V. Hartke. While there, she also fell in love with aspiring actor Chris Sarandon, whom she married on September 16, 1967. She adopted Sarandon as her surname and, despite divorcing in 1979, kept his last name as her own as she launched her professional career.
After graduating from college, Sarandon auditioned for every role she could find. She caught her first break in 1969 when she and her husband auditioned for the upcoming film, Joe. Although her husband wasn’t cast, Sarandon landed a major role in the film and officially launched her acting career. Over the next few years, she had recurring roles on soap operas like A World Apart and Search for Tomorrow before she joined an ensemble cast in the cult classic, The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975). Later in the year, she joined Robert Redford in The Great Waldo Pepper (1975) and went on to star in Pretty Baby (1978) with Brooke Shields and Atlantic City (1981) with Burt Lancaster, the latter of which earned her an Academy Award nomination.
“I never really studied acting so I kind of kiddingly talk about ‘building your circle’ and ‘mooding up,’ because I really didn’t learn any technique,” Sarandon said of the acting style that earned her an Oscar nomination. “But, sometimes when you have to go into something, unless you’re gifted and can just turn it on and off like a jukebox, you find someplace where there’s nothing going on to get yourself into whatever state your character is entering into.”
Sarandon honed her talents and built her circle throughout the 1980s when she snagged a controversial role in the 1983 vampire flick, The Hunger, in which she shared a lesbian sex scene with Catherine Deneuve. She joined Jack Nicholson, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Cher in The Witches of Eastwick (1987) and Kevin Costner in Bull Durham (1988), the latter of which earned her critical praise from Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times. “I don’t know who else they could have hired to play Annie Savoy, the Sarandon character who pledges her heart and her body to one player a season, but I doubt if the character would have worked without Sarandon’s wonderful performance,” Ebert wrote.A Household Name: Acting and Activism
“I think I’m an actor because I have a very strong imagination and empathy. I never studied acting, but those two qualities are exactly the qualities that make for an activist.” Sarandon was well established as an actress by the 1990s and achieved superstardom in 1991 when she joined Geena Davis in Thelma & Louise (1991). Earning an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress for her performance in the film, Sarandon followed up with award-nominated performances in Lorenzo’s Oil (1992), The Client (1994), and Dead Man Walking (1995). She won an Oscar for Dead Man Walking and went on to earn eight Golden Globe nominations throughout the 1990s and 2000s for her work in White Palace (1990), Stepmom (1998), Igby Goes Down (2002), and Bernard and Doris (2007).
Beyond her award-nominated and award-winning performances, Sarandon has given stellar performances in films like Little Women (1994), Anywhere But Here (1999), The Banger Sisters (2002), Shall We Dance (2004), Elizabethtown (2005), and Enchanted (2007). She’s also made the rounds on television with appearances in Friends, Malcolm in the Middle, Saturday Night Live, 30 Rock, Rescue Me, and Mike & Molly in addition to narrating over two dozen documentaries like Independent Love and Mythos.
Amid her incredible success as an actress, Sarandon often uses her fame as a platform to raise awareness for a variety of social and political issues. Her earliest work as an activist came in 1983 when she spoke out against social, environmental, and economic injustice in a delegation to Nicaragua. She was appointed a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in 1999 and, over the years, has supported the organization’s global advocacy. In 2003, she took a strong stance against the invasion of Iraq, a position she’s held over the last decade especially since becoming a mother.
“I’m painfully aware of the lottery of birth. Injustice really bothers me,” she said during an interview with Vogue. “In my business, you are constantly developing empathy and imagination—once you can put yourself in another mother’s struggles you can’t resist activism. I want to leave the world a little better or at least know I tried. You create your life and passion with the energy you put out there.”
Determined to leave the world a better place, Sarandon is also actively involved in presidential politics and supported presidential candidates Ralph Nader in the 2000 election, John Edwards in the 2008 election, Barack Obama in the 2012 election, and Bernie Sanders in the 2016 election. Beyond her politics, Sarandon is also active in civil rights and has worked to improve the dialogue on topics like homosexuality, fair punishment for drug addicts, the death penalty, gender transitioning, and mass incarceration. Most recently, she was arrested at the 2018 Women Disobey protests where she participated in a sit-in at the Hart Senate Office Building with 575 others in protest of President Donald Trump’s migrant separation policy.Life Today
“I feel my family’s needs are a priority. I’m not comfortable with the idea of serving the many and ignoring my family.” Over the years, Sarandon has learned to balance her career as an actress and activist with her personal life. After divorcing actor Chris Sarandon in 1979, she was romantically involved with director Louis Malle, musician David Bowie, and actor Sean Penn before she met and fell in love with Italian filmmaker Franco Amurri in the mid-1980s. On March 15, 1985, Sarandon gave birth to the couple’s first and only child, daughter Eva Amurri.
Three years after her daughter’s birth, Sarandon left Amurri and fell in love with actor Tim Robbins on the set of Bull Durham (1988). She and Eva soon moved in with Robbins and, over the next few years, the couple welcomed two sons into the world. Together, they raised their children, pursued their acting careers, and bonded over their shared liberal political views as they often campaigned together for various causes. In 2006, they traveled abroad with their sons and 10 other relatives to trace Sarandon’s Welsh genealogy in the BBC documentary, Coming Home: Susan Sarandon, which was re-aired in the United States as Who Do You Think You Are?
Sarandon and Robbins separated in 2009 when Sarandon entered a relationship with Jonathan Bricklin, the son of American businessman Malcolm Bricklin. Together, Sarandon and Bricklin established the SPiN chain of ping pong lounges including the New York ping-pong club and its Canadian branch in Toronto. After six years together, the couple parted ways in 2015 leaving Sarandon more time to focus on her children and her career.
That focus was rewarded in 2017 when Sarandon narrated Bombshell—The Hedy Lamarr Story, which tells the story of the 1940s film star praised as the most beautiful woman in the world. The film rekindled Sarandon’s own success, her journey in the spotlight, and her talent as an actress as well as the truth behind being a woman in a male-dominated industry. “Telling women’s stories and showing women who are the protagonists in their own lives is very, very important. It’s really just making stories that are more reflective of the world,” Sarandon said of the film.
As for her own journey in Hollywood, the 71-year-old actress admits that it’s rarely been easy. “You have to choose to be beautiful or smart. If you’re smart, you’re not very feminine. I don’t think I was ever the most beautiful, so I got character parts, which allowed me to survive,” Sarandon said. “I was told you were done by the time you’re 40 and you definitely shouldn’t talk about having children because that made you less sexy… but I’m still working and there are tons of women around my age working, and the main reason is female producers and female writers and directors and people who are willing to try to get money for a female-driven story where all the characters are not 22. Otherwise, there just aren’t that many stories of older men and women. I mean, there are stories of older men, but they always have 30-year-old girlfriends.”
Sarandon is working to change that reality in Hollywood and, despite her age and the fact that she has three children, she is still happily working as an actress. Her most recent credits include films A Bad Moms Christmas (2017), The Death and Life of John F. Donovan (2018), and Viper Club (2018) as well as upcoming projects like Going Places (2019) and Blackbird (2019). In television, she starred as Bette Davis and co-produced Feud: Bette and Joan (2017), snagged a recurring role as Samantha Winslow on Ray Donovan (2017-2019), lent her voice to Dr. Wong in Rick and Morty (2017), and voiced Aunt Agatha in Neo Yokio (2017-2018). When it comes to documentaries, Sarandon has produced and narrated over 24 titles including Soufra (2017), Up to Us (2017), The Survivor’s Guide to Prison (2018), American Mirror (2018), and Death Row Stories (2018).