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While promoting her documentary Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story in the U.K. on Thursday, Oscar winner Susan Sarandon took a swipe at Hollywood and Harvey Weinstein.
Sarandon, who was speaking at a Q&A after the film’s screening at London’s BFI Southbank, is the executive producer on the documentary about the silver screen siren, helmed by first-time director Alexandra Dean.
Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story tells the story of the title actor’s life but focuses on her talents as an inventor — most notably, for developing a radio guidance system during World War II that became the basis of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi technology.
While Lamarr’s intelligence is undoubtable, Sarandon remarked, “it’s certainly not a requirement to be smart in my business. … Mediocrity is rewarded time and time again. A lot of the time you’re hired because you don’t ask questions. It takes more time to ask questions, it takes more time to fight for something with integrity.”
Sarandon, who recently won acclaim on the small screen for her portrayal of another Hollywood icon, Bette Davis in FX’s Feud, added that there’s “no room” for asking questions or exploration on film, television or the stage.
“The last play I did on Broadway [Exit the King with Geoffrey Rush], we spent so much time doing press, which should’ve been done rehearsing,” she said. “I would have liked to have been rehearsing anyway.”
Sarandon was keen to highlight the “tricky” nature of films and their relationship with sex.
“It’s very complicated, in my business especially, because it’s all about your sexual currency,” she said. “Whether you actually deliver to anyone in charge to get a job that way — people hire women they want to be with and men they want to be. And anyone that falls in between is a character actor.”
Sarandon added that women should have the choice about how she uses what she has at her disposal.
“I think that we can’t condemn someone, we can’t slut-shame somebody for embracing their seductiveness,” she said. “But, at the same time, you want to have enough power and economic stability to able to say no, to not be in a Harvey Weinstein situation where your work is held hostage and you’re forced to do things you don’t want to do.”
Sarandon hinted at what project is next on her agenda — a documentary about French-born sculptor, painter and filmmaker Niki de Saint Phalle. Known for being an exponent of outsider art, the artist was famed for firing guns at bags of paint.
“I’m interested in Niki de Saint Phalle because she also had an unorthodox life and left behind a legacy,” she said.
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