Interview: Susan Sarandon on not linking ‘Tammy’ to ‘Thelma and Louise’

Susan Sarandon goes on the road again, this with Melissa McCarthy, in "Tammy." Credit: Getty Images
Susan Sarandon goes on the road again, this with Melissa McCarthy, in “Tammy.”
Credit: Getty Images

Twenty-five years after “Thelma and Louise,” Susan Sarandon is taking a different kind of onscreen road trip with “Tammy.” Sarandon stars as the alcoholic, pill-popping grandmother to the titular Tammy (Melissa McCarthy), out to cause trouble across the Midwest.

You’ve been doing a lot of interesting smaller projects lately, like “Ping Pong Summer.” And even this, though it stars Melissa McCarthy, is from a first-time director.

Yeah, yeah… that’s hard. I feel a little bit like I’ve used up my coupons for first-time directors, actually. Mark Duplass called me and told me to do this one, and then Mark and Jay Duplass called me to tell me to do “Ping Pong Summer.” I always feel like if someone asks you to do something that’s a favor to help get a film up and it’s a one-and-a-half week commitment, that’s a hell of a lot easier than a month and a half.

I would imagine that happens a lot, smaller projects with first-time directors seeking you out.

Yes. And you know, sometimes it works and other times it’s very frustrating. First-time directors are very often trampled on by whoever buys it or the studio or whoever. It’s hard because you want to give everybody a shot, but at a certain point you want people to make you better. I mean “producer” is probably the job you can be the least qualified for. There can be nine producers on a movie — you know, they gave a little bit of money or found the project or knew somebody or whatever. But on this, everybody that was involved and was there while we were shooting really, I felt, was very protective and very positive and lent their expertise in a really, really positive and influential and good way on this one. They had a great team of people on this one.

Melissa McCarthy plays Susan Sarandon's granddaughter, despite there being only 24 years between them. Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures
Melissa McCarthy plays Susan Sarandon’s granddaughter, despite there being only 24 years between them.
Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

In your mind can, you connect this film to “Thelma and Louise” at all?

You know, it’s so funny that we didn’t think of “Thelma and Louise” — I mean, it didn’t come up. I thought of it, but it didn’t really come up while we were filming. We were so focused on what was going on. And then a year later when we went to do the press photo shoot, they had a convertible and a desert setting, and I said, “Are you sure you want to do that? We’re about to have another anniversary for ‘Thelma and Louise,’ and I think there’s going to be a lot of that. Do you want to do that comparison?” And they were like, “Oh my god, I never thought of that.” And they struck the car! They took the car away! But while we were filming it didn’t actually come up. Maybe because it wasn’t as cool a car, I don’t know.

Or as serious a story.

Right. Although I don’t know, I think of “Thelma and Louise” as being funny up and until the end. [Laughs]

Speaking of “Thelma and Louise,” so far during your press tour, how many people have asked to take a selfie with you?

[Laughs] Nobody, nobody! Oh no, one on-camera reporter did. That’s so funny that that became such a big thing. We just did it as an after thought. We did a whole photo session of them uniting us, and there was a Polaroid and we did do something there. And then we were doing the interview for the Hollywood Reporter, and at the end of it I said, “Let’s just do one,” and we did one with my phone. [My dog] Penny tweeted it, and now it’s a thing.

Follow Ned Ehrbar on Twitter @nedrick


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