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Susan Sarandon: 'Cloud Atlas' Gender and Racial Transformation Was 'Unsettling'

TELEVISION: Susan Sarandon
Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images

At the "Jeff, Who Lives at Home" premiere in New York City, the Oscar-winner also discussed her upcoming projects.

Susan Sarandon plays with a middle-aged exploration of sexuality in this weekend's dramedy Jeff, Who Lives at Home, but consider that just a warmup: come October, her race, gender and sheer identity will be thrown into question.

The Oscar-winning actress says that she has just a few small roles in the Wachowskis and Tom Twyker-directed big screen adaptation of the experimental, installment-based David Mitchell book Cloud Atlas, but as she told The Hollywood Reporter, the transformations she underwent for the film were larger than life.

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"I was a little nervous about some of the things I had to do, and then everyone was being so brave, bouncing from one set to the other and one pair of contact lenses to the other, noses and whatever, so I just went for it," she said, noting one character in particular was especially bold.

"He is Indian, dark-skinned, dressed like Cornell West and I have little glasses, a little bit of a belly," Sarandon explained. "I've got to tell you, it was more unsettling than I had anticipated. I know there is some disease where you don't recognize yourself when you see it, and you really do not know it's me, because I have darker contacts on, a few different pieces, a few different hairline. It's pretty amazing, actually. I don't even think you hear me speak because it's something that's in a newsreel, it's kind of a religious person, I don't think you'd even know it's me."

Hugh Grant, who plays one of the film's leads -- or, a number of them -- also made some unusual changes. The Brit known for his turn in romantic comedies "is not used to being in makeup," Sarandon said, "and he had some very long, complete body tattoos and things, and that was very difficult to him."

Though it's due out in 2013, Sarandon recently completed work on the drug-themed drama Snitch, which she says focuses on the mandatory minimum drug laws. She co-stars in the film with Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, and when asked how one addresses the man -- his birth name, or the famous nickname he earned grappling in the WWE? -- she joked that you call him "Sir."

"But I knew him as The Rock because I took my kids to see him wrestle, believe it or not," she added.