Over the course of her career, Academy Award-winning actor Susan Sarandon has starred in several hit films — Thelma & Louise (1991), Dead Man Walking (1995), Anywhere But Here (1999) and Stepmom (1998). Even then, Sarandon seems to be equally well-known for her role off-camera — that of a social activist.
Despite being reportedly branded “unpatriotic” or “un-American”, Sarandon is one of the many ‘anti-war’ celebrities in the US who has actively voiced her opinion on the matter. Over a brief conversation at the on-going International Film Festival of India (IFFI) in Goa, the actor talks to us about what made her speak up against US policies and how her activism has affected her personal and
Has criticising US policies put you in a tough spot now?
Yes, it has… certainly under (the governance of former US President) George W Bush.
How has your activism affected your professional life?
I wouldn’t know if I have lost out on jobs. But I know that there were people who didn’t want to work with me. I was cancelled from a number of events. There were horrible things written about me in the press. I had death threats.
And your personal life?
My niece was in Virginia, doing a play, when a teacher came up to my sister and said that she wouldn’t be allowed to see the play if I showed up.
There was a time in the US when there was a great polarisation because of Bush and the way he had said, ‘You are either with us or against us’…. people didn’t understand the history that led up to 9/11… so if you were asking questions, you were on the wrong side.
What do you think can change this scenario?
The middle-east is a complicated issue. You have to give people education and jobs… that’s how you stop violence. In Detroit and Chicago, you have lots of incidents of kids’ violence — this is why they have no tomorrow. In the US, wars are the biggest exports, second may be films, but definitely weapons. But thanks to Bush, his two terms in office and his stripping of the economy, people are now paying attention to what they really need. They know that nothing is gained using violence.
You’ve produced a few films in Hollywood. Have you considered producing a project in India?
Well I think that it’s a great opportunity. I knew there was a huge industry here, but I’m not familiar with the films. I recently saw the clippings of Waheeda Rehman’s films… they were so beautiful.
Stepmom was remade in India as We Are Family (2010). Did you get a chance to watch it?
I learnt that was interesting; it showed me dancing when I was dying (laughs). I’ll have to see that.