June 23, 2012
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Sarandon loves making indie films
Veteran actress had blast shooting 'Jeff, Who Lives at Home'
By Bruce Kirkland, QMI Agency


Susan Sarandon arrives for the premiere of 'That's My Boy' in Los Angeles, June 4, 2012. REUTERS/Bret Hartman

Susan Sarandon loves indie films, respects eager young filmmakers and celebrates home entertainment.

These elements are all connected. Indie films are often abandoned by their studios and do poorly at the box office. So eager young filmmakers need the later release on DVD, Blu-ray and digital download to get their films widely seen, Sarandon says.

"That's why video is fabulous," Sarandon says on the telephone in a fresh one-on-one interview. She says plenty of her own films have been seen mainly at home, not in theatres. "So many ... and good films!" That is precisely why she jumped into an interview cycle to support this week's release of the Duplass Brothers' dramatic comedy, Jeff, Who Lives at Home.

It generated a miserable $4.4 million in worldwide box office after its March 12 debut. It was made for a modest fee. "If a studio doesn't spend a lot of money," Sarandon says, "it's easy for them to let that one go. Then they concentrate on the $150-million bomb trying to make that one work. It's just the nature of the business and getting all bitter about it is not going to help at all."

Jeff, Who Lives at Home features Sarandon as the long-suffering mother of two brothers played by Jason Segel and Ed Helms. Segel's Jeff looks like a slacker, a thirtysomething who mopes around in the basement of his single mom's home. Helms plays the frustrated brother who worries that his pretty wife is having an affair. When Sarandon forces Segel to go out on an errand, the brothers hook up and a mission of discovery unfolds.

In an odd way, Sarandon says the Duplass Brothers, Jay and Mark, remind her of the Wachowski siblings, Andy and Lana (the former Laurence). She just worked with the Wachowskis (from The Matrix franchise) on the sci-fi spectacular Cloud Atlas, which is being co-directed by Tom Tykwer of Run Lola Run fame.


"I really respect filmmakers who manage to have lives, do films the way they want to do them, have a sense of irony and humour about themselves and aren't crippled by the terrible things this business does to you and how it breaks your heart when films are not released properly. Including Jeff."

As entertainment, Sarandon is convinced that Jeff, Who Lives at Home is worthwhile. The Duplasses have a knack for layering substance and meaning into their human comedies.

"That's what the best films do," Sarandon says. "They give you a little window (within which) you can adjust your assumptions about people or situations. It just kind of reframes you. And, if you're lucky, it reframes you in a way that you can still have a conversation about it the next day. That's when I think that filmmaking is at its best. It doesn't give you the answers. It doesn't moralize. It entertains. It makes you laugh. It makes you cry. But, somehow, you just look at the world differently."

On a personal level, the best films are great experiences. Sarandon had a great experience on Jeff, Who Lives at Home when it filmed in the Duplasses' home state of Louisiana. The wily veteran adored working with Segel and Helms. "It was just a total love bubble!"

Plus the Duplasses made life easy for her despite her physical traumas. Before the shoot, Sarandon had fallen and seriously injured a foot during a humanitarian visit to Haiti with Sean Penn. An operation left her in a boot. She hobbled around the set with a crutch.

"So it wasn't even the optimum fun situation," Sarandon says with a laugh, "and I still had a blast!"




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