Oscar Icons: Susan Sarandon

Wesley Mann

“Dead Man Walking” (best actress)

While Susan Sarandon openly laments the politicized nature of contemporary Oscar races — “The first time I was nominated [for Atlantic City in 1982], the studio didn’t even know how it happened,” she says — the actress says the power of a gold statuette is undeniable. “It’s an amazing honor to be in the club; there’s nobody who wouldn’t want one,” says Sarandon, 64, who received five nominations before finally winning for her portrayal of Sister Helen Prejean in 1995’s Dead Man Walking. “You’re very happy to win, but at the same time you understand that it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are the best actor. It just means that a lot of things have come together. I think they were so tired of me getting nominated and not winning.” With her fifth nom, Sarandon’s peers also felt it was time. “Right before they announced the winner, Laurence Fishburne leaned over and said, ‘If you don’t get it this time, we’re burning this place down.’ ”            

Photographed by Wesley Mann on Feb. 21 in Manhattan’s Theater District