Susan Sarandon: Hollywood constantly rewards 'mediocrity' and actors who "don’t ask questions"

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 incredible story of the actor’s life but focuses on her talents as an inventor – most notably, for developing a radio guidance system during World War II which became the basis of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi technology.

Whilst 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 portray 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."

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Susan Sarandon and her son Miles Robbins
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Susan Sarandon and her son Miles Robbins
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 09: Actors Miles Robbins (L) and Susan Sarandon attends the 'Zoolander 2' World Premiere at Alice Tully Hall on February 9, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 09: Actors Miles Robbins (L) and Susan Sarandon attends the 'Zoolander 2' World Premiere at Alice Tully Hall on February 9, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 18: Miles Robbins and Susan Sarandon attend the Tampa Bay Lightning vs New York Rangers playoff game at Madison Square Garden on May 18, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by James Devaney/GC Images)
WESTWOOD, CA - JUNE 04: (L-R) Jack Henry Robbins, Miles Robbins and actress Susan Sarandon arrive at the Los Angeles premiere of 'That's My Boy' held at Regency Village Theatre Westwood on June 4, 2012 in Westwood, California. (Photo by Lester Cohen/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 09: Susan Sarandon and her son Miles Robbins 'DJ Smiles' attend the grand opening of The Scarlet on March 9, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Jude Domski/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 09: Actress Susan Sarandon (R) and her son Miles Robbins (DJ Smiles) attend the grand opening of The Scarlet on March 9, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - MARCH 26: Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon with son Miles Robbins attend the after party for the opening night of 'Exit the King' on Broadway at Sardi's on March 26, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic)
WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? -- 'Susan Sarandon' -- Pictured:(l-r) Susan Sarandon, son Miles Robbins -- Photo by: Nicole Rivelli/NBC
HOLLYWOOD - OCTOBER 10: Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins with children Miles Robbins, Jack Henry Robbins and Eva Amurri attend the ceremony and 50th birthday celebration honoring Actor Tim Robbins with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on October 10, 2008 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Michael Tran/FilmMagic)
HOLLYWOOD - OCTOBER 10: Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins with children Miles Robbins, Jack Henry Robbins and Eva Amurri attend the ceremony and 50th birthday celebration honoring Actor Tim Robbins with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on October 10, 2008 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Michael Tran/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK - MAY 03: Miles Robbins, and actress Susan Sarandon attend the premiere of 'Speed Racer' during the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival on May 3, 2008 in New York City. (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival)
Miles Robbins, Jack Robbins, Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins (Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)
Miles Robbins and Susan Sarandon during FXB Saving Grace Benefit Dinner - September 26, 2006 at Bond Street Penthouse in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/WireImage)
NEW YORK - APRIL 27: Actress Susan Sarandon looks at the NHL Stanley Cup with sons Miles (C) and Jack Robbins at April 27, 2006 at Nobu in New York City. (Photo by Stephen Chernin/Getty Images for NHL)
Susan Sarandon, Miles Robbins, Jack Robbins and Tim Robbins (Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)
Miles Robbins, Susan Sarandon, Wyclef Jean and Wendy Mateland (Photo by Jemal Countess/WireImage)
Miles Guthrie Robbins, Susan Sarandon and Jack Henry Robbins (Photo by J. Vespa/WireImage)
Susan Sarandon and son Miles Robbins (Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)
Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins with son Miles during 'Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban' New York Premiere at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Gregory Pace/FilmMagic)
Tim Robbins, Susan Sarandon and Miles Robbins during Opening Night Feature of The 9th Annual Gen Art Film Festival 'Saved!' - Red Carpet at Loews Lincoln Square Cinemas in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/FilmMagic)
Tim Robbins, Susan Sarandon with son Miles Robbins and actor Liam Aiken (Photo by L. Cohen/WireImage)
NEW YORK - MAY 5: (U.S. TABS AND HOLLYWOOD REPORTER OUT) Actress Susan Sarandon and her daughter Eva Amurri (L), sons Miles (C) and Jack (R) and partner Tim Robbins stand backstage at The Film Society of Lincoln Center's Tribute to Susan Sarandon at Avery Fisher Hall May 5, 2003 in New York City. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Getty Images)
Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins and son Miles arriving at the 'Maid In Manhattan' world premiere at The Ziegfeld Theatre, New York City. December 8, 2002. Photo by Evan Agostini/Getty Images.
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The #MeToo movement was addressed too though 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 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 wanna 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."

Finally, Susan 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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