The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
As doe-eyed Janet Weiss, she experienced a sexual awakening alongside rock & roll–loving, cross-dressing aliens—and in the process helped spawn the campiest, most rabidly popular cult musical of all time. Her awesomely dirty “Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch Me” number was tattooed onto the brains of 11-year-old boys everywhere, including a young Louis C.K., who admitted to having “a little time by [himself]” after watching it.
Thelma & Louise (1991)
Sarandon’s Louise Sawyer is many things: a tough, no-nonsense feminist icon, a great road-tripper and, oh yeah, a murderous outlaw. Her undeniable chemistry with Thelma (Geena Davis) is what takes this empowering buddy film over the edge—literally.
The Hunger (1983)
The swankiest of vampire movies, this one’s best known for a femme-on-femme seduction between Sarandon and the bloodsucking babe Catherine Deneuve. But this is also the film in which our guest EIC met costar David Bowie, with whom she rather famously became lovahs. We also dig the guest appearance of Bauhaus, crooning “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” in an NYC club.
Bull Durham (1988)
This film proved that while there may be no crying in baseball, there are “long, slow, deep, soft, wet kisses that last three days.” It’s her earthiest, most appealing performance; she’s the spirit of the game—an obsessive fan, a groupie and an enabler of talent.
Dead Man Walking (1995)
The icon took home a much-deserved Best Actress Oscar—her first after five nominations—for her role as Sister Helen Prejean, a real-life nun trying to save the soul of convicted murderer Matthew Poncelet (Sean Penn).
Atlantic City (1980)
Sarandon earned her first Best Actress nod in Louis Malle’s moving crime drama for playing Sally Matthews, a casino dealer hoping to wash away memories of her dope-pushing husband. She also hopes lemon juice will help wash away the stench of her crap job at an oyster bar. The latter goes better than the former.
30 Rock (2011–12)
Sarandon’s TV alter ego Lynn Onkman simply couldn’t resist the ironically nonsensical trucker hats of slovenly writer Frank Rossitano (Judah Friedlander): She played a registered sex offender who served jail time for having an affair with a then-14 Frank. (If there was an acting award for most lovely- looking predator, she would have nabbed it.) Interestingly, Friedlander could frequently be seen wearing T-shirts with the logo for Sarandon’s NYC club, SPiN New York, on the show. Aww, we love her too, Judah.
The Witches of Eastwick (1987)
With assists from fellow A-listers Cher and Michelle Pfeiffer, Sarandon accessed her supernatural star chops and managed to summon the Satanesque Daryl Van Horne (Jack Nicholson) to wreak havoc on the vapid small-town Americana composite of Eastwick, Rhode Island. And just like that, cherries would never be the same again…
The Client (1994)
It seemed like a new John Grisham adaptation came out weekly in the mid-’90s, didn’t it? But this creepy, atmospheric thriller is miles above the rest thanks to its powerhouse performances, led by Oscar nominee Sarandon as tough, wry and quietly vulnerable Southern lawyer Reggie Love (best name ever).
Does this film tug on the ol’ heartstrings or what? Sarandon played Jackie Harrison, a mom with terminal cancer coming to terms with the fact that her kids would be raised by her ex’s thorny, much younger new girlfriend (Julia Roberts). She also displayed some primo lip-synching skills in a hairbrush-microphone rendition of “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.” Girl totally got game.
From her breakthrough role as saucy, virginal (cough!) bride-to-be Janet Weiss in The Rocky Horror Picture Show to her Oscar-winning performance as a real-life nun in Dead Man Walking, Susan Sarandon has blazed a trail across the silver screen—and the TV screen, too. In celebration of Sarandon guest-editing Time Out, we pay tribute to the star with our pick of our favorite performances. Enjoy. (We did).