Hand color tinted photo of Susan Sarandon
Susan Sarandon (born October 4, 1946) is an American actress. She has worked in films and television since 1970, and won an Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in the 1995 film Dead Man Walking. She is also noted for her social and political activism for a variety of liberal causes.
Sarandon, the eldest of nine children, was born Susan Abigail Tomalin in New York City, the daughter of Lenora Marie (née Criscione) and Phillip Leslie Tomalin, who worked as an advertising executive, television producer, and nightclub singer during the big band era. Sarandon’s father was of English, Irish, and Welsh ancestry and her mother was of Sicilian/Italian descent; the family was Roman Catholic. In 2006, Sarandon and 10 of her relatives (including her then-partner Tim Robbins and her son Miles) traveled to Wales to trace her family’s Welsh genealogy. Their journey was documented by the BBC Wales program, Coming Home: Susan Sarandon.
Sarandon grew up in Edison, New Jersey, where she graduated from Edison High School in 1964. She then attended The Catholic University of America from 1964 to 1968, earning a BA in drama, and working with noted drama coach and master teacher, Father Gilbert Hartke.
In 1969, Sarandon went to a casting call for the motion-picture Joe with her then husband Chris Sarandon. Although he did not get a part, she was cast in a major role of a disaffected teen who disappears into the seedy underworld (the film was released in 1970). In 1970 and 1971, she appeared on the short lived soap opera A World Apart, playing Patrice Kahlman and in Lady Liberty by Mario Monicelli opposite screen legend Sophia Loren. Five years later, she appeared in the cult favorite The Rocky Horror Picture Show. That same year, she also played the female lead in The Great Waldo Pepper, opposite Robert Redford. Her most controversial film appearance was in The Hunger in 1983, a modern vampire story which turned out to be a critical and box office flop. However, Sarandon did not become a “household name” until her breakthrough in the 1988 film Bull Durham, which became a huge commercial and critical success.
Sarandon received five Academy Award nominations for best actress, in Atlantic City (1981), Thelma & Louise (1991), Lorenzo’s Oil (1992), and The Client (1994), finally winning in 1995 for Dead Man Walking. Her other movies include Stepmom (1998), Anywhere but Here (1999), Cradle Will Rock (1999), The Banger Sisters (2002), Shall We Dance (2004), Alfie (2004), Romance & Cigarettes (2005), Elizabethtown (2005) and Enchanted (2007).
Sarandon has appeared in two episodes of The Simpsons, one as herself (“Bart Has Two Mommies”), and another as a ballet teacher, “Homer vs. Patty and Selma”. She has made appearances on comedies such as Friends, Malcolm in the Middle, Mad TV, Saturday Night Live, Chappelle’s Show, and Rescue Me.
Sarandon has contributed the narration to some two dozen documentary films, many dealing with social and political issues; in addition, she has served as the presenter on many installments of the PBS documentary series, Independent Lens. In 2007 she hosted and presented Mythos, a series of lectures by the late American mythology professor Joseph Campbell.
Sarandon joined the cast of the adaptation of The Lovely Bones, opposite Rachel Weisz, and appeared with her daughter, Eva Amurri, in Middle of Nowhere; both of the movies were filmed in 2007.
Most recently, Sarandon joined the cast of Peacock starring opposite Ellen Page, Cillian Murphy, Bill Pullman and Josh Lucas. Filming will take place in Des Moines, Iowa.
While in college, she met and married fellow student Chris Sarandon in 1967. They divorced in 1979 and she retained Sarandon as her stage name. In the mid-1980s, Sarandon dated director Franco Amurri, with whom she had a daughter in 1985, actress Eva Amurri. From 1988 to 2009, Sarandon was in a relationship with actor Tim Robbins, whom she met while filming Bull Durham. They have two sons — Jack Henry (born 1989) and Miles Guthrie (born 1992). Sarandon’s relationship with Robbins publicly ended at the end of 2009.
Sarandon and Robbins were often involved in the same social and political causes. In 2006, Sarandon received the Action Against Hunger Humanitarian Award. She was honored for her work as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, an advocate for victims of hunger and HIV/AIDS, and a spokesperson for Heifer International.
Sarandon also participates as a member of the Jury for the NYICFF, a local New York City Film Festival dedicated to screening films for children between the ages of 3 and 18. One of her favorite hobbies is playing table tennis. She is involved in a New York Table Tennis Club, Spin; a club she frequents when not filming.
Sarandon is noted for her active support of progressive and left-liberal political causes, ranging from donations made to organizations such as EMILY’s List to participating in a 1983 delegation to Nicaragua sponsored by MADRE, an organization that promotes “social, environmental and economic justice.” Sarandon has also expressed support for various tolerance and human rights causes that are similar philosophically to ideas found among the Christian left.
In 1995 Sarandon was one of many Hollywood actors, directors and writers who were interviewed for the documentary The Celluloid Closet, which looked at how Hollywood films have depicted homosexuality.
In 1999, she was appointed UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and in that capacity has actively supported the organization’s global advocacy, as well as the work of the Canadian UNICEF Committee.
During the 2000 election, Sarandon supported Ralph Nader’s run for President, serving as a co-chair of the National Steering Committee of Nader 2000. However, during the 2004 election campaign, she withheld support for Nader’s bid, being among several “Nader 2000 Leaders” who signed a petition urging voters to vote for Democratic Party candidate John Kerry. After the 2004 election, Sarandon called for US elections to be monitored by international entities.
Sarandon and Robbins both took an early stance against the 2003 invasion of Iraq, with Sarandon stating that she was firmly against the concept of the war as a pre-emptive strike. Prior to a 2003 protest sponsored by the United for Peace and Justice coalition, she said that many Americans “do not want to risk their children or the children of Iraq.” Sarandon was one of the first to appear in a series of political ads sponsored by TrueMajority, an organization established by Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream founder Ben Cohen. Also in 2003, Sarandon appeared in a “Love is Love is Love” commercial, promoting the acceptance of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals.
In 2004, she served on the advisory committee for the group 2004 Racism Watch. She hosted a section of the Live 8 concert in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 2005.
In 2006 she was one of eight women selected to carry in the Olympic flag at the Opening Ceremony of the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Turin, Italy
Along with anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan, Sarandon took part in a 2006 Mother’s Day protest sponsored by Code Pink; she has expressed interest in portraying Sheehan in a movie. In January 2007, she appeared with Robbins and Jane Fonda at an anti-war rally in Washington, D.C. in support of a Congressional measure to withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq.
In the 2008 U.S. presidential election, Sarandon and her partner Tim Robbins, campaigned for John Edwards in New Hampshire cities, Hampton, Bedford and Dover. When asked at We Vote ’08 Kickoff Party “What would Jesus do this primary season” Sarandon said, “I think Jesus would be very supportive of John Edwards.”
On May 29, 2008 Sarandon announced that she would consider moving to Canada or Italy if John McCain were to be elected President of the United States.