There are worse ways to spend a Saturday than chatting with Susan Sarandon and Judy Greer.
Both of them were part of the same press day for their new film “Jeff Who Lives At Home,” and I was excited to discuss the movie with both of them. They are both sharp, vibrant performers who have spent most of their career making movies better just by being in them.
I love that Sarandon is so hard on her own work in the movie “Joe,” which I brought up while we were talking. That’s a pretty great little ’70s picture with an amazing central performance by Peter Boyle, and Sarandon stars as his daughter. It’s one of her earliest roles, and she shuddered at the mention of it, saying she’s awful in it. While I agree that she is much, much better now, I don’t think she’s right about how bad she was. Even in the early part of her career, Sarandon had a great live-wire energy onscreen that made it impossible to look away. Is her performance in “Dead Man Walking” better than her work in “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”? Sure. Of course. But she’s still fascinating in “Rocky,” and in “Joe,” because you could see right away that she was wildly alive behind those giant almond eyes of hers.
Her career has been defined by several different high points, moments where she made an impression on this audience or that audience, moments where she did something that won them over. Whether your memories of her are tied to “Atlantic City” or “Bull Durham” or “Dead Man Walking” or “Thelma & Louise,” the point is that she has endured, consistently finding new roles to conquer. She’s got a very unconventional and lovely storyline in “Jeff,” one that has her working with Rae Dawn Chong in most of her scenes. That’s a great relationship, a fun one to watch, and definitely one of the highlights of the film.
My six-year-old son Toshi was with me at the press day, and as we walked into the room, he froze, eyes wide. I didn’t k now why he was reacting, and I tried to think what movie she would have been in that he would know.
“Dad,” he said, stage-whispering it at me. “That’s Speed Racer’s mom!”
Sarandon lit up, laughing, and said, “I am Speed Racer’s mom. That’s true.”
He is not as familiar with Judy Greer, but that’s because he’s not old enough for the deranged pleasures of “Archer” or for about 90% of the films Greer has appeared in. There will come a time for him to see something like “Jawbreaker,” but that’s not now. I, on the other hand, am a big fan, and any time Greer gets hold of a piece of material that is equal to her distinct talents, the results have been worthwhile. She’s very good in “Jeff” as the estranged wife of Ed Helms, and she seems happy to be on the road promoting it.
We’ll have one more interview for the film tomorrow, with Mark and Jay Duplass, but in the meantime, check out my review from Toronto last year.
“Jeff Who Lives At Home” opens in theaters this Friday.