Susan Sarandon plays Mom Racer when the highly anticipated “Speed Racer” opens May 9. But, her genuine maternal side emerged recently when she talked about the death of young Brad Renfro, who made his film debut opposite the Oscar-winning actress in “The Client.”
“Brad was really someone who was on an uphill battle from the very beginning. He was an incredibly sensitive and talented kid who wanted to work and I think he'd been having problems finding it,” Sarandon said about the Jan. 15 passing of her former co-star.
“That's a hard, hard thing, on every level. It's a battle. I just know that when you have a family unit that can be there to get you when you fall, you stand a better chance. The way that this business is, you can be out of touch with people so easily.
“You travel and you don't talk to someone for a while, and people can slip through the cracks so easily,” Sarandon continued. “I know that (director) Joel Schumacher really tried hard. Brad was a beautiful, really talented and much loved person and I was so sad when that happened.”
Sarandon also mentioned actor Heath Ledger, who died of a much more publicized accidental prescription drug overdose exactly a week after Renfro’s heroin-induced death.
“I also knew Heath, and I didn't see that coming, not at all. That was just a bad luck of the draw, clearly, an accident,” Sarandon said. “With Brad, it wasn't as big of a surprise because he'd been battling, his whole family had been battling (with and for him),” Sarandon said. “They didn't mention him at The Oscars and that was really sad, too.
“I had seen him on and off and he was definitely trying, and I think this business is a really rough business. He'd been sober and being sober is a struggle. You take a few steps back and a few steps forward. It was devastating because in a way I felt like, 'Where were we for him?' ”
“Did he die?” Goodman asked, looking genuinely stunned. “Oh (crap)! What a tragedy!”
On a much happier note, Sarandon is obviously extremely proud of Eva Amurri, her actress daughter from a relationship with director Franco Amurri.
“She doesn't look like every little blonde girl that's around,” Mom said. “She goes up for these parts and they say that she gave the best audition, but then they want to go with someone who was already on a TV series.
“Eventually someone will want to hire someone who wasn't on 'The O.C.' I tell her all the time that there's so many more reasons why you don't get a job than why you will get a job. It's cyclical, too.”
Amurri, 23, currently is starring with Uma Thurman and Evan Rachel Wood in “The Life Before Her Eyes.”
By the way, Eva is pronounced with a soft “E” (as if it rhymes with how a New Englander might pronounce clever or never). “That’s why she thought ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ was her song for so many years,” Sarandon concluded with an infectious laugh.
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