'A lot of people hated me, called me un-American'
In Goa for the 44th International Film Festival of India, Academy-award winner Susan Sarandon speaks to Shubha Shetty-Saha about how Hollywood is tough for women, and how fighting against the war was the toughest time of her life. Here's an excerpt from the interview
Susan Sarandon, one of the most famous actresses of Hollywood, spoke to MiD DAY on the sidelines of the 44th International Film Festival of India (IFFI). The actress, who has been nominated four times for the Academy Awards and won it in 1995, spoke about her activism and her stance on marriage.
The competitiveness in Hollywood is very high. How do you deal with the stress of it?
It is a highly competitive industry. With actresses coming from all over, it is sometimes a very difficult situation. The only way to survive is to be extraordinarily different. The competition out there is tremendous. This business is very hard, especially for women. People said that my being actively political made me lose work. But the truth of the matter is that it is because of my age. If I don’t get plastic surgery done, I will be one of the few actresses who look my age. And that’s the reason why actresses like me look for other options like production etc. I have nothing against plastic surgery, if you are getting a nip and tuck here and there, but the fact is, some of them end up looking like female impersonators of themselves and that’s scary.
What are your views on marriage?
I did say that I don’t believe in the institution of marriage. The fact is once you are married, everything becomes static and it is easy to take each other for granted. In any other situation, the two continue working hard at keeping it alive and there has to be that magic. You have to also be lucky to get that kind of spouse who keeps up with you and helps you when you are evolving with time. I am against any kind of institution. Like religion, it is not bad, but once it comes under an institution it kind of starts working in a different manner.
What is your stance on war and America after 9/11?
There was so much trauma in the US after 9/11 that it was like if you are not with us, you are against us, thanks to Bush and his office. At that moment, fighting against the war became very difficult. They thought I was being un-American for questioning the need to go out and fight against any country. I got a lot of hate on the radio, there were protests. That was the most difficult time for me as an activist. But I had to keep asking those questions because it would be very difficult for me to keep quiet. War is, I think, the best export from America and cinema comes only second. It is a scary situation and to do nothing about it would be to be complacent, which I am not willing to do. You can’t blame the Democrats or the Republicans alone. At that time since USA had never experienced terrorism of that magnitude, everyone seemed to sign on in support of the war. So, fighting against it at that time was the toughest phase.
What’s your take on the Oscars?
I don’t know if the parameters for winnng the Academy Awards is in place. I won it for Dead Man Walking (1995) but for all you know there might have been more deserving candidates. Some year, a serious film might win it but there could also be a comedy which is worth the same. It is like the case of apples and oranges. Sometimes it is the perception that this film might be a great work. Since the nominations have been increased to 10 instead of five, it has kind of become a bit vague... but yes, it does work for the film. People get curious to watch the movie if it has won.