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SARANDON: Banger Sisters was the second time, but she did a film in between that Tony Shalhoub directed with Brooke Adams and Lynne Adams. She had a very big part in that, and that was a kind of mockumentary, so it was a great way to... it was kind of like acting camp, and low budget. And so she had done that. And then we started Banger Sisters.

READERS DIGEST: Whats the mockumentary one called?

SARANDON: Its called Made-Up.

READERS DIGEST: Made-Up. So how do you feel about her going into this career?

SARANDON: I think the thing that always worried me as a person whos been blessed with privileged children, the thing that always has frightened me would be having a child whos not interested in anything. Ive seen kids of famous people who grow up and away, and that somehow leads them either, one, thinking that their life is normal I really wanted my kids to understand that they were privileged and to take responsibility for it, not to pretend by putting them in an affluent community where everybodys affluent that this was normal.

READERS DIGEST: Right.

SARANDON: Because theyre not going to be normal.

READERS DIGEST: Right.

SARANDON: Whatever normal is.

READERS DIGEST: Right.

SARANDON: But there are kids that just really are not interested in anything, that kind of passiveaggressive, teenage withdrawing from things and being bored. And so any time a kid of mine has a passion for anything, Im there. If shed wanted to be a soccer pro I would have been there. It just happened that it was this. And in the beginning she wasnt that interested in doing it. Shes grown up on sets, and people had asked her before to work, and she didnt want to miss school and she wasnt interested.

READERS DIGEST: Right.

SARANDON: Tim and I certainly had discussions about it, and luckily shes just managed to work with great, nice directors and other great people, and so her experiences have all been very positive ones. And she still intends to go to college. Shes taking her SATs next weekend. Shes very academic, speaks four languages. And I think shell have lots of options, but I certainly didnt want to say no just on some kind of general anxiety that I might have about what could happen.

READERS DIGEST: Right.

SARANDON: Because shes a great kid and she certainly knows what the business is about. Whether shell want to do this at 25, who knows? But for right now, Im happy that shes interested in something.

READERS DIGEST: And the other two, are they...

SARANDON: Well, my youngest just said that he wanted to start auditioning, but I dont know what that means in terms of school or anything. I certainly wouldnt want him to be working outside of... I mean, its just worked out perfectly for her because it was a summer movie, or if she was missing a little bit of school her teachers could send stuff. You have a tutor on the set. But I dont think... When my boys and everybodys kids were in Stepmom at one point for that big scene thats in the Thanksgiving Day pageant.

READERS DIGEST: Uh-huh.

SARANDON: And they were so ready to be out of there within two days. They were bored to tears and just wanted to play with the new kids that they met. There was nothing to motivate them. They didnt want the money, they didnt want approval. I think my son was five and he said, Read my lips. Im out of here. And I said, No, youve committed. You have to stay another... and this was after Chris Columbus had just fired one of his children because she just would not focus, you know? And so it never really came up. But theyve stayed very close with Liam Aiken, who was in Stepmom. His mom and he are still really good friends with us. And Natalie Portman is still in touch with us, so Ive seen some examples of people whove been able to balance education and have stayed... I mean, I would be thrilled if my daughter ended up like Natalie Portman, as together as she is and bright and questioning, and Clare Danes is another great gal that Ive known for a long time. And so I dont know. I guess we just kind of play it [one] situation at a time.

READERS DIGEST: Do you actually say it, though? Its important to me that you find an interest. Its something you said about life in general, you believe in being a participant, not sort of just letting it pass you by.

SARANDON: Right, right, right.

READERS DIGEST: I mean, is that your message to them?

SARANDON: Yeah. To be awake in your life. I mean, I cant complain. Actings been great. Tim was running lights on shows when he was 10 he started out in theater. But his father was a folk singer, so he didnt exactly have a whatever you call normal [upbringing], so I think you just have to take it kid by kid and listen to them and see what it is that they are interested in and then be there for them, and examine each thing as it comes up.

READERS DIGEST: Although all that said, for you, acting was kind of an accident, right?

SARANDON: Uh-huh.

READERS DIGEST: [laughs] If you had it to do over again, [if] it hadnt been an accident, do you think...

SARANDON: No. Would I have struggled? No. Would I have struggled for like 10 years to... no. I would have probably become a shrink or a psychologist or a teacher, because I definitely am interested in people.

READERS DIGEST: Right.

SARANDON: And I love working with kids and I love doing something thats a collaboration, so I probably would have been drawn to something that was collaborative and where the study of people is involved. I dont know what. I told my daughter, Youre crazy. Why would you want to take acting in college? These years are like a gift. You should open your mind to all the other things. If she chose to take part in a production or something, that would be one thing, but I wouldnt recommend taking acting as a major to her. On-the-job training is fine, you know?

READERS DIGEST: [laughs] Right.

SARANDON: You dont really need to waste the money there. I would say take art classes or language, or studying another country or philosophy or comparative religions or some of those things.

Its just such a great period of your life when you dont have children and you can just indulge yourself...

READERS DIGEST: Right.

SARANDON: ...with a few fabulous professors that are going to open your mind in ways that you never could envision, in ways that Im not really qualified to share with her.

READERS DIGEST: Right. And she sees that. She sees...

SARANDON: Yeah, I mean, its a drag. This SAT thing is a nightmare. The pressures that are on these kids for these scores and everything, I dont know how I would have gotten into college. I mean, I took my SATs but it just wasnt the same. Its just too much. And they burn out before they even get to school.

Its crazy. Its just like one test and of course it tests a very specific kind of intelligence and learning. And, mostly memorization. Its not...

READERS DIGEST: Its not creativity.

SARANDON: ...creative or even thoughtful.

READERS DIGEST: Right.

SARANDON: And if you have money, you start to pay these people to help you study. And Ive been asked to visit high schools sometimes, and I always say, well, Ill go and do a Q&A. I dont want to just stand there and lecture. Id be interested to know whats going on. And it seems to me, talking to these kids, the pressure is on you in high school that used to be on you in college.

READERS DIGEST: Uh-huh.

SARANDON: And this fear of making a mistake, this need to... you dont even know who you are. Its not about finding your passion. Its not about finding your strengths or your voice or anything.

READERS DIGEST: Right.

SARANDON: Its just about fulfilling these prerequisites to go on. Its horrifying to me. I dont really know how you spare them that, because the fact of the matter is, theyre so competitive. Theres an enormous amount of drinking in the suburbs that goes on now that I dont remember ever having been that intense.

READERS DIGEST: Really? Like at what age?

SARANDON: Young.

READERS DIGEST: Young?

SARANDON: I mean, I think its pretty easy in the suburbs because you have access to places to go easier than you do in the city.

READERS DIGEST: Right.

SARANDON: Kids getting in cars. I have friends in these surrounding Westchester communities and whatever, and theres a lot of drinking that goes on. Because its legal. I mean, it isnt for kids, but its easy to get to. Theres drugs too. We were trying to figure out why [they drink and drug too much]. Is it just that they dont know how to drink? Why are they drinking themselves into... When I was doing one of these Vocation Days at one of the high schools thats outside of New York, there was a kid in the mens room that got taken away by ambulance with alcohol poisoning during school. And this was right after the kids had said to me, Well, theres a lot of drinking.

READERS DIGEST: So do you think its a response to the pressure?

SARANDON: Yeah, I think so. Unless theyre just incredibly angry, which might be true too. I dont know. But there certainly is more pressure. Theres an expectation. You have all of these parents who have achieved a lot, especially in these affluent communities. It takes a lot to get to the point where your parents got.

READERS DIGEST: Well, its even harder now. Like you, you say how would you get into college, or youd have a doctor saying, Oh, I couldnt get into med school now. They know it.

SARANDON: And everybody cant be a lawyer or a doctor, you know? A number of years ago when I went to Harvard, when I was asked to go to Harvard, and everyone was switching... well, even when I was the Hasty Puddings person that they did, I was talking to these guys who were all in drag, and I said, Well, what are your majors? How come some of you arent in drama or humanities or something? Why are you all, I mean, how many lawyers can there be? What if they socialize medicine? Whats going to happen? [laughs]

READERS DIGEST: And what did they say?

SARANDON: Well, its just not considered good enough to pursue these things. They want a guaranteed kind of job.

READERS DIGEST: Right.

SARANDON: A job with a guarantee. And the scary thing is the world the way it is today, there are no guarantees.

READERS DIGEST: I know.

SARANDON: So you might as well follow your heart because doing what you think is going to lead you to security doesnt necessarily anymore. And I think thats really scary, and its also, there havent been a lot of generations where the kids havent done better than the parents. Its always been upwardly mobile, and thats stopped recently.

READERS DIGEST: Right. What about the whole female thing, I mean, for your daughter? Looking at your own career in Hollywood, what sort of advice do you give her? Does that even come up? Do you talk about it?

SARANDON: Im beginning to realize that I had such a gift having boys, because I knew what the problems were for a girl. And I was set to deal with that. But I didnt understand how the socialization process steals those sweet boys from us and turns them into these people that are uncomfortable and unfamiliar with their emotions. If you look at the language of war and the way that were inundated as a nation, to follow without any real plan and to this war were in now I wont even get into that subject in detail. But its all about masculinity and misplaced notions of what it means to be a man. And, in fact, the suicide rate among young boys is much higher than girls.

READERS DIGEST: Really?

SARANDON: They actually succeed, whereas girls that attempt it do not. And this is even with anorexia and cutting and everything else. And so I think you can't even say yes, the world is run by white heterosexual men and yes, they get paid more and yes, they have more opportunities. But thisdoes not mean they are happier.

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