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Susan Sarandon has worked for decades, most recently (above) in 'Arbitrage.'
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BY ROGER MOORE
McCLATCHY-TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE
ORLANDO, Fla.--Susan Sarandon has always made it look so easy.
Generations of actresses launch careers and then flame out. Sarandon, 65, "transitioned"--from ingenue to leading lady to strong female lead to "cougar" to stellar turns as moms. Others come and go, Sarandon reinvents herself and endures.
"It's just managing to get the part you need when you need it," she says. "I just survived. I don't understand how I've stuck around, and I have no idea what to say when people ask me how. I've made plenty of mistakes."
Mistakes or not, this Oscar winner has always cleverly picked, or lucked into, roles that gave her a fresh lease on movie life. While nobody plans a "cult hit" like "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" (1975), you've got to be a sharp cookie to see where "Pretty Baby" (1978) will take you.
"Some of those parts, thanks to the directors of the movies, have managed to become kind of iconic--important parts in he Hollywood history of women," Sarandon says. "But that has as much to do with the zeitgeist of the moment as with me. Even 'Pretty Baby' hit at a time when child prostitution was in the headlines and very much on the culture's mind."
Take "Arbitrage," her latest. She plays the wife of a Wall Street hedge fund baron (Richard Gere) who has hidden an affair and vast financial wrongdoing from her. Melodramatic touches aside, it's a movie ripped from recent headlines.
"I feel a little bit like Zelig," Sarandon says, referencing Woody Allen's 1980s film about a man with the ability to blend into disparate situations, always on the cutting edge of history.
"These films, a number of them, seemed to slip right into the consciousness of that moment in time. And when I went to London to do 'The Hunger' , I met [late director] Tony Scott, and all these great English actors Americans hadn't heard of yet.
"When we did 'Thelma & Louise' (1991), we had no idea it was going to be that big of a deal. It was just a cowboy movie with girls and cars instead of horses and guys. We knew it would be fun, and Ridley Scott [Tony's brother] was a fabulous director. But it caught a wave."