This much I know: Susan Sarandon

By Helen Barlow

A few words from actress Susan Sarandon.
Susan Sarandon. Photo / AP
Susan Sarandon. Photo / AP

For many years I was asked to go to Cannes but I had to refuse as I was raising my family. Though I remember quite vividly going in 1978 for Louis Malle's controversial entry, Pretty Baby. The film created a lot of discussion because it featured nude scenes with a 12-year-old Brooke Shields. The day of the screening, people demonstrated in front of the Palais and banged on our car. Brooke was scared to death and every time I see her now we talk about it.

When I started out at 20 you had to choose between a family and a career. We take for granted now that you don't have to choose. My daughter [actress Eva Amurri] and girls today are going, "Yes, I can have as much as a guy can have. If I want to have a family I can have a family and a career."

What's encouraging about women in film now is that there are these amazing comediennes who are writing movies that are making a lot of money and starring a lot of women. Melissa McCarthy, Amy Poehler, Amy Schumer, all these gals. Lots of actresses have production companies that are developing parts for women and that's also a really good sign.

After Thelma & Louise made a lot of money they predicted there would be so many more films starring women, but it didn't happen. The studios didn't have an epiphany.

All three of my last movies were directed by women. They're selecting me on purpose. Certainly most women are able to get in the mind of a woman, but Bull Durham gave me one of the strongest female characters ever and that was written and directed by a guy who just loved women [Ron Shelton]. Some of the best parts for women have been written by men, like Tennessee Williams. Ridley Scott directed Thelma & Louise (from a screenplay from a woman, Callie Khouri) and you couldn't get anyone more macho.

I find anything that encourages people to make contact is probably the bravest thing that you could do. Everything I do is always framed as some kind of love story, no matter if it's sexual or not. Just that moment. I think everyone's trying to make contact all the time. That's the most important thing.

I'm playing Bette Davis next, with Jessica Lange as Joan Crawford, in the miniseries Feud. I don't know how it's going to turn out. I'm kind of scared. It's about Hollywood and whether or not it has changed since those gals were trying to find their way through.

There's so much attention from the media and social media now, it's horrible. I wouldn't have survived if there had been someone outside the Chateau Marmont watching people come and go when I was young.

The Kardashians obviously have it down to a science. But that's all they do; that's their job. I don't know how they do that; they live with crews their entire lives and they do it really well. They've monetised everything. That mother is amazing. You know what she's done, starting with a porno film and ... they could buy America.

Susan Sarandon was in Cannes as a spokesperson for L'Oreal and spoke at Kering's "Women in Motion" talks.

- Canvas

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