Jeff Who Lives at Home: Susan Sarandon

Jeff Who Lives at Home: Susan Sarandon
Susan Sarandon joins Dr. Phil onstage, and he asks her, “How did you decide to do this movie?”

“It’s usually the woman’s job to be the Wendy to everybody’s Peter Pan, and after a while, you get tired of being the one who says, ‘It’s time to come in.’ ‘Stop playing.’ ‘Did you do your homework?’ All of that kind of thing, and the father’s like dessert that comes in and plays with them,” she says. “You love your kids, but sometimes, they just are horrible. You love them, but you don’t like them sometimes, and [my character] has gotten to that point, and they’re all kind of isolated.” She adds that family is extremely important to her. “My kids are so close to me,” she says of her children, 19, 22 and 26.

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Susan shares some of her parenting challenges.
Dr. Phil plays a clip from the movie where Susan's character contemplates the meaning of life on the floor of the office bathroom with a co-worker and asks her, “You’ve got to tell me that comes from some time, some place in your life where you felt that frustration?”

Susan confirms. “The thing that’s amazing about acting is that given a set of circumstances, you find out that you can feel and you would do things you never thought yourself capable of, so it’s, like, instant compassion,” she says. “Everybody’s afraid of dying, everybody wants to be loved, everybody wants a connection with family, so the details are just the details, but those basic needs and things that drive people are universal, and they’re male and female. All those other little things don’t really matter.”

Susan is the oldest of nine and says that if she hasn’t had the direct experience, one of her brothers or sisters has.

“You had to mother a lot of these kids,” Dr. Phil says.

“It took me years to stop mothering guys I was with. I had to learn that lesson the hard way,” she jokes.

“Would you rather be taken care of?” Dr. Phil asks.

“If someone says to me, ‘I’ll take care of it,’ I’m theirs. Are you kidding me?” she says with a smile.

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Susan opens up about her personal relationships.


In the movie, Susan’s character’s son lives in the basement and is not especially motivated. Dr. Phil asks her, “Would your kids ever come and live at home, and would you be OK with that?”

“Yeah, I would,” she says. “I think it’s a glorious opportunity to get to know your kids and for them to know you as someone who existed before they did — which they don’t think that — and to find what they’re like. My kids are educating me now in terms of music, books. The problem is when you get in that paradigm again — I don’t want to pick up their towels and yell at them; I want to have fun with them.”Recently, Susan worked with the NBC show Who Do You Think You Are? to find out what happened to the grandmother she never met.

"The two mysteries that I’ve never been able to solve are: what happened to my grandmother Anita, and where her family’s from," Susan shares. "She just disappeared when my mom was 2.

"I’ve always been kind of the black sheep of the family in a way. There was something there that kind of jumped a generation, because my mom always said, ‘You’re not anything like I am,'" she reveals.

Susan shows her mother a picture of Anita and learns that it was taken at a place called the Copacabana, where Anita was a showgirl. She then meets with Megan Smolenyak from Ancestry.com who tells her, “Fortunately, your grandmother did leave a good paper trail.” They examine Anita's marriage certificate, and learn she was 13 when she got married.

Susan and her son, Miles, investigate and learn that Anita’s family was from Italy. “It’s gone from something being kind of abstract to being concrete,” Susan says.

Susan visits with Anita’s nieces to see if she can learn more. They show her pictures and a sketch of her grandmother.

“As the journey unfolded, I became more and more compassionate toward her and more forgiving, and my heart just went out to her,” Susan says.

[AD]In studio, Susan explains that her grandmother often lied about her age. “One of the reasons we couldn’t find her was that she passed for much younger. Then, when she got pregnant and she got married, you had to be 15, and she lied about her age to be older. Then she lied about her age to be younger,” she says. “She sounds pretty interesting.”

Susan shares how she maintains her much-talked-about youthful appearance. And, learn the one thing Susan wants to accomplish before the end of her life.


Jeff Who Lives at Home opens March 16.