Susan Sarandon & Harvey Keitel

Susan Sarandon On Everything from WikiLeaks to Glee

At the Marrakech Film Festival last week, Susan Sarandon presented her old friend Harvey Keitel—with whom she co-starred in 1991's Thelma & Louise—with a special tribute award. Just prior, she took time out to hold a cozy meet-and-greet at her hotel, the Royal Mansour (where a night starts at, ahem, $2000). The ever-outspoken, uncensored, unapologetic Oscar winner regaled us with her humanitarian efforts, her thoughts on Wikileaks, her New York ping pong club, and that Halloween episode of Glee...

On Her Ping Pong Club, Spin...
The thing about ping pong, it's like having a tattoo. When you show yours, everyone starts undressing to show you theirs. A lot of people play and like the idea of being able to play and drink, while people who want to play seriously can play seriously. Ping pong goes just about anywhere and anyone can play at various degrees. One of our guys is a rapper, who's been stabbed and shot and jailed. Ping pong saved his life, according to him. He's a pro and he does nothing but teach and play ping pong. He plays with his cell phone like a paddle. Then we have Kos, who's the best defense player. When he's playing and it's not going well, he takes all his clothes off to distract the other player. It's pretty funny. They all love the game. And my boys both DJ, so they've been working there, when they're home from school. We've had to be creative, we're not like Ian Schrager. And Todd Oldham has helped a lot. There's four of us. The others had the idea of drinking and playing for free, which I think was they're motivation. I've always considered myself in the service industry. When I'm in the club I feel Miss Kitty from Gunsmoke.

On Morocco...
It's my third time in Morocco and my second time at the festival. Moroccans are so generous. And I love the food, the people, the music, everything about it. I came with my family around 13 years ago, when I was doing Stepmom. I was producing so I gave everyone a big vacation for Christmas. I brought my whole family and we had a wonderful vacation and traveled around. I'm asked to go to a lot of festivals now, and I'm trying to spread them out over the next part of my life, so I don't use them all up too fast. I choose one or two a year, my mid-life lifetime award. But when they asked me to this, I said yes. I definitely wanted to come back to Morocco.

On Possibly Making Documentaries...
I'm not looking to make what you would call a political film. You find a subject and then it kind of leads you. I find people so interesting. And what people are capable of doing and the directions they go in, and the coincidences in life, are just incredible. We are doing an episodic documentary about the [ping pong] club, because we have the youngest player to win the men's nationals going to the Olympics, plus a Fedora- and sunglasses-wearing 80-year-old, who will be in the over-80 competition.

On the episode of Glee inspired by The Rocky Horror Picture Show...
I didn't know anything about it. All I kept hearing was, "Are you going to be in it?" I don't watch TV really. I mean I kind of watch Jon Stewart to know what's going on. I'm sure I'll see it eventually. I heard good things about it. I did see an episode of Glee when I was in New Orleans that I thought was so beautiful. It made me cry actually. It was so moving. It was the one where the father defends his gay son. It was everything you'd ever want to hear anyone say. I like the show. It seems like the writing is better than most, certainly more entertaining than most. Those kids must be exhausted.

On Politics…
Politics don't interest me at all. I don't think anything changes, not from the top down. It always starts from the bottom up. So I've always been involved in groups. I came of age when the issues were much clearer, in the early 70s. You had the press showing you what was going on in Vietnam. It wasn't hidden the way things are now. So anyone with half a mind was asking questions. Now it's much more difficult because you're not getting information in the United States.

On Political Films...
All films are political because they either reinforce or challenge stereotypes. Just the ones that challenge the status quo are called political. Certainly in The Nutty Professor, that you root for the girl to go with the fat guy was amazing, right? That wasn't called a political film, but it's definitely something that rearranges your framing. I think films at their best allow you to identify with someone who you wouldn't normally identify with. When you come back your perspective is a little bit jarred. Then maybe you live your life noticing things you didn't notice before. But I don't know if it's our responsibility to tell people what to think or what to feel. For instance, in Dead Man Walking, that woman starting asking questions. She didn't start out to be a hero or to change anything. In Lorenzo's Oil, they didn't start out to change anything. They were just asking questions for their kids. I think it's just part of the human condition to ask questions and, as someone who's in this business, I've always felt that I was outside the box just because of what I do for a living. So it's natural that I would identify and feel companionship with people who are also outside the box.

On Actors as Presidents...
It bothers me when people say actors shouldn't be politically minded, but you can elect them president? One of the worst actors ever was a president. Reagan was an actor, so it only applies to liberal actors, not Republican? We've got Schwarzenegger, another bad actor. I mean, good actors can't have an opinion? Every person should be encouraged to be informed and vote. I remember being on TV once and a woman said, "Why should I listen to anything you say?" And I said, "Yeah, why should you? I'm not asking you to listen to me at all. And I don't really think you should care who I'm sleeping with either."

On Using Her Celebrity to Raise Awareness...
I went to Haiti recently because people had forgotten about Haiti. When a bunch of people go down there, and there's a bunch of pictures, then it gets back in the news and people pay attention. I went to sub-Saharan Africa with the UN years ago. I didn't even know what was going on with all these AIDS orphans until they asked me to go. Then once I got there, it was in People magazine and suddenly people were like, "Oh my God, I didn't know that was going on there." When people do know, they're activated, and if you're in a business where you're asked to use your imagination and your empathy, how could you do anything but end up being an activist? It's not a very big leap from being an actor to being an activist.

On Her Daughter Becoming an Actress...
I'm happy if she's happy. If she'd been a soccer player, I wouldn't care. Instead she's living with a soccer player. My daughter went to school in Bologna, where she just filmed a little bit, something Bobby Kennedy's son directed. It sounded pretty funny, pretty chaotic. She seems to like acting so far. I don't know if she'll stay forever in acting. We're going to produce something together that I don't know if she'll be in, but probably I will.

On WikiLeaks...
It reminds me of the Pentagon Papers. I met with Daniel Ellsberg [who leaked top-secret war documents to the press in 1971] a few years ago when we were revving up to attack Iran. There was a plan to do so already in existence and he was trying to get someone to leak that. He said the problem now is if you have anything worth leaking, you're going to lose your job and maybe go to jail, and then in a week no one is talking about it. People forget so easily. I mean, look at Valerie Plame. You thought that was going to bring down the whole government, now maybe there's a movie made. 





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Dec 11, 2010 00:00:00

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