Susan Sarandon talks about social media, acting, and new movie ‘Robot and Frank’

Susan Sarandon interview about Robot and Frank

Academy Award-winning actress and native New Yorker, Susan Sarandon, sat down in a midtown Manhattan hotel with Examiner Dorri Olds to discuss the movie “Robot and Frank” which opens in New York City this Friday, August 17, 2012. The movie is set in the near future at a time when books are relics and robot assistants are commonplace.
What do you think of the idea of owning a robot?
I would love it if we had robots. We’re pretty close to that now. I would have him cook, clean and take care of my mother.
What did you think of the relationship between your character, Jennifer, and the lead played by Frank Langella?
It’s a really sweet courtship that goes on between them. They both love books. I like that romanticized idea that these people are living in what is now basically an amusement park for books. Nobody uses them anymore but people visit just to see what it was like back in the day. I saw Jennifer as somebody who is quiet, somewhat shy, but has strength because she knows who she is. She is a very generous person but she’d been let down so many times.

You’ve had such a successful career, which films stand out?
Dead Man Walking,” which is considered a very political film, was a love story as far as I was concerned. It was a story of redemption set with this background which was very informative and I think that’s why it worked. And that’s why people went to see that horrifying film hundreds of times. That film was a huge box office hit and there’s no other explanation for that.
What do you think of films with a political message?
I think every film is a political film, contrary to most peoples’ beliefs, because it tells you what to cheer for, what’s allowed, a system of justice, what women want, what’s funny. I think “The Nutty Professor” is a great example of a political film because it got you to identify with that fat guy, which never happens, as being the one you cheer for to get the girl. That’s crazy. That you could go to a film and feel what it’s like to be on the outside and made fun of—and in a funny way. I think we think of films as political that challenge the status quo but just as strong are the ones that confirm and strengthen agism, sexism and all of those isms. So I think as a filmmaker, and as an actor, you have to understand that when it’s okay to beat a woman up because she really likes it in a film, that you are putting that idea out there. And, when you show a certain kind of violence, and glamorize violence, you’re putting that out there and you have to take responsibility. As for the content, I think you just need to tell stories that you feel passionately about and not only films that star white, straight, men of a certain age because there are so many more stories to be told that involve all kinds of people.
What do you enjoy most about acting?
What’s so addictive about acting is that you never feel you get it completely one hundred percent right. Sometimes I feel I just didn’t commit enough, or I wasn’t courageous enough. It is always so painful for me to watch myself on screen. I’m constantly learning and that’s what’s so seductive about it.
Are you sometimes surprised how a film turns out after the final editing?
When I saw the screening of “Robot and Frank,” it was the first time I’d seen the finished film. Things get cut all the time—when you have a small part, sometimes when you see it you’re like, “Whoa, what happened to that scene?” I mean, there’s no point in acting up a storm if it’s not going to be seen—big chunks will be gone. That’s the difference between theater and film. That’s very distracting and sometimes incredibly painful. Some films I’ve done as a favor and then you see them and you’re like, ‘Really? Why did they even call me in? They cut it down to absolutely nothing.’ It’s very frustrating.
What did you learn from these experiences?
I remember when I did “Wall Street” and I’d had a couple of bad experiences prior to that and I said to Oliver [Stone], “Look, I don’t mind coming in to do this. I love to work with you, it’s a fun movie. But, seriously, don’t put me through this if you’re going to cut it down to one scene.” He said something so smart, “I would look like a fool if I didn’t use you properly.” Interesting answer [laughs]. And he did end up leaving everything in.
How do you feel about texting and tweeting?
I don’t think there is anything wrong with social networking except that when I sit down in a restaurant, everyone gets their phones out. I’m imagining going to the theater, a comedy, and everyone starts typing, “lol, lol.” and nobody’s laughing because their just typing.
“Robot and Frank” opens in NYC this Friday, August 17, 2012 at City Cinemas Paris Theatre, 4 West 58th Street. Rated PG. 90 minutes.
Written for the Examiner

1 thought on “Susan Sarandon talks about social media, acting, and new movie ‘Robot and Frank’”

Comments are closed.