'The Power of One': Interview with Susan Sarandon

The star says imagination and empathy are what make her an actor--and an activist.

BY: Interview by Laura Sheahen


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You can't tend to somebody's soul and ignore their body. You can't talk in abstract terms.

Is that a problem you see with organized religion in general?

"Religion is not black and white"

Any religion that is so black and white-to me, that's like fanaticism. Religion is not black and white. It's much more complicated. Spirituality is much bigger than that. God is much bigger than that. I don't believe in a wrathful God. I believe he's much more forgiving and inclusive than some religions. The things that are done in her name or his name are horrible.

What would the world look like if Susan Sarandon were in charge-if you were the head of the United Nations, say? What would a Susan Sarandon utopia look like?

First of all, there'd be much more peace because the whole underlying problem in the world now is this huge gap between rich and poor. Jimmy Carter's completely all over this and moving in the right direction.

"It takes so little... to give people a chance"

We give so little in terms of aid compared to other nations, compared to our military budget, compared to everything else. Having gone to Africa and India for the U.N. as an ambassador, it takes so little effort and money to get rid of malaria, to bring in clean water, to give people a chance at an education. When you don't have hope, that's when people start to do weird, horrible, violent things. That's at the bottom of it.

It's just a question of prioritizing. The funds are there. When you look at what other countries do, I was stunned by how little we contribute as the wealthiest nation.

We should start exporting some of the generosity that exists with the good people of the United States.

Within this country, there shouldn't be hunger within the United States. People should have a chance or an education and decent housing and medical care. Those are just basic rights. A woman shouldn't have to fear for raising a child in this country, shouldn't have to be fearful that they can't pay simple medical expenses. That's obscene.

I would try to make it possible for kids of the United States to travel to other countries. They would be less afraid and more empowered. When kids start to meet other kids in places that seem so scary and different, they start to understand how much alike everyone is, and that our needs are so similar. Kids are kids no matter where you go.

I'd try to encourage more trips for student leaders from every high school around the U.S. It would make it so much more difficult to drop bombs and be known as this violent [nation] all over the world. We should start exporting some of the generosity that exists with the good people of the United States, who just need a chance to understand what can be done and what a wonderful experience that is.

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