Susan Sarandon's Spiritual Activism

The world-renowned actress and star of 'Enchanted' talks to Beliefnet.

Naomi Judd
Photo Credit: Getty Images/Alex Wong

Susan Sarandon is one of the best-known and successful actresses in America. She has won acclaim with roles in films like "Bull Durham"  and "Thelma and Louise." Now she's starring alongside Amy Adams and Patrick Dempsey in the updated fairy tale "

Enchanted

." She sat down with Beliefnet and spoke candidly about her problems with organized religion, why Jesus was an activist, and more.

In "Enchanted," you play a villainess. As an actor, how do you get the inspiration to play such an evil character?

You just have to kind of surrender to the kind of iconic, elegant, evil villainesses that you've seen through all of the Disney cartoons, and just have fun with it. Those are the kind of characters that just love being manipulative and evil. They're so powerful, and so missing any moral bottom line that they just never have a doubt.

The movie is a fairy tale. Why do you think people continue to be attracted to fairy tales?

They're all tales that I think harken back to when people were telling stories around the fire. They're the fight of good and evil. And I don't think we ever outgrow our need for those kind of stories. You love to hate the bad queen and you cheer for the hero. I think that's just part of a very deep-rooted, primal need that goes back to the very beginning of civilization. I don't think we would ever outgrow that.

How would you describe your personal spiritual beliefs?

I believe in the divinity of every human being. And I try to live my life with as much compassion and kindness toward that end, of respecting other people. I suppose this, then, leads to some kind of sense of extended responsibility.

I believe in the power of a higher divine of some sort. But I think that is probably what informs all my decisions is the idea of the divine in each person. And I try to act according to that belief.

How do you incorporate those beliefs into your everyday spirituality?

I think you lead by example more than just words. I would hope that my kids have seen me in action, protecting and helping those that have been less fortunate than I have been. I hope that they see that in my daily struggles with making my own moral decisions that I try to be as thoughtful as possible.

But, mostly, I think you lead by example because as your kids get older, preaching to them doesn't really work.

Are there any particular rituals that you have with your family?

I love the holidays. We have lots of rituals that are about the holidays. Thanksgiving is my favorite because it has the least pressure. We always have a very large Thanksgiving because we do it with another family that lives near our country house. They have five in their family, and we have five in ours. And then there's always at least ten other people who are either at loose ends or in town just for a little while. We do a communal meal, so people all contribute. And then we all go around the table and say what we're thankful for.

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