I wouldn’t say everyone was surprised by the news that Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins have separated. They were never married, but for 23 years they reigned supreme as New York and Hollywood’s top liberal couple.
Three years ago, it was clear that Robbins was alone in Los Angeles doing a play. Sarandon was home in New York. It was unusual even then to see them separated by work.
More recently, Robbins came alone to the Gotham Awards. At the premiere of “The Lovely Bones,” Sarandon was surrounded by agents and pals in a banquet at the Oak Room at the Plaza. Robbins was nowhere to be seen.
Everyone sort of knew but didn’t want to say. This isn’t an US Weekly situation. These are nice people, with a family and a history.
Their last public appearances were in the summer, at Nelson Mandela Day, and at a Paul McCartney concert on July 18.
They have two sons together; they’re also the kind of couple who will remain friendly. There will be no fireworks.
Sarandon and Robbins each has an Oscar, by the way. Robbins has a best supporting actor for “Mystic River.” He directed her to a best actress Oscar for “Dead Man Walking.” It was Sarandon’s fifth nomination.
For Sarandon, the change in status means more and comes at a generational change for her. Her kids are grown. For years, Sarandon would only take movies shot in New York so she could be with her family. Now, single and less tied to hearth and home, she can presumably move around more. At 63, she looks more like 53. and not in the plastic way. She could easily start taking some of the roles Meryl Streep has had in the last few years. Sarandon is capable of excelling at drama and comedy. Directors should be anxious to work with her, and not just in “Mom” roles. She’s amazing in the Brian Koppelman movie “Solitary Man” as Michael Douglas’s ex wife.
Robbins never really capitalized on his Oscar. He’s made very pedestrian choices since 2003. But he’s also a youthful 51, and could start playing more leading-man roles if he wants to.
So, on to new adventures for Susan and Tim, and best of luck to them both. In Hollywood terms, 23 years is an eternity. They deserve a plaque.
Another thing about Sarandon: My favorite of her films is “Atlantic City,” written by John Guare, and directed by her then love, Louis Malle. It’s hard to imagine anyone making such a fine piece of cinema now.