Sarandon with Cher and Michelle Pfeiffer in The Witches of Eastwick, 1987. Photograph: Allstar/ Cinetext/ WARNER BROS
Does she have any sympathy with the critique that casting a protest referendum is the luxury of those insulated from the effects of a Trump presidency?” It wasn’t a protest election. Following Bernie wasn’t a protest .” Voting for Jill Stein was, by any definition, a protest referendum.” Well, I knew that New York was going to go[ for Hillary ]. It was probably the easiest place to vote for Stein. Bringing attention to working-class issues is not a luxury. People are really hurting; that’s how this guy get in. What we should be discussing is not the election, but how we got to the point where Trump was the answer .”( We should also, she says, inching towards the space where the extreme right fulfills the left, be discussing how” you can’t judge by the mainstream media what’s going on in the country. How did we lose all our journalists and media ?”)
Has she lost friends over all this?” No. My friends have a right to their opinions. It’s disappointing but that’s their business. It’s like in the lead-up to Vietnam, and then later they say:’ You were right .’ Or strangely, some of my lesbian friends were like:’ Oh, I simply feel bad for[ Clinton ]. And I said:’ She’s not authentic. She’s been terrible to gay people for the longest day. She’s an opportunist .’ And then I’m like:’ OK, let’s not talking here it any more .'”
Still, I guess while there was vast political error on both sides, the inability of Sarandon and her ilk to espouse the lesser of two evils permitted the greater of the two evils to rise. And yet I like Sarandon. It takes real heroism to go against the mob. Her inconsistencies are a little wild, but in persons under the age of social-media enforced conformity, I have never met anyone so uninterested in toeing the line.
Did she actually say that Hillary was more dangerous than Trump?
” Not precisely, but I don’t mind that quote ,” she says.” I did suppose she was very, very dangerous. We would still be fracking, we would be at war[ if she was president ]. It wouldn’t be much smoother. Seem whatever happens under Obama that we didn’t notice .”
It seems absurd to argue that healthcare, childcare, taxation for the non-rich wouldn’t be better now under President Clinton, and that’s before we get to the threat of deportation hanging over millions of immigrants.” She would’ve done it the way Obama did it ,” says Sarandon,” which was sneakily. He deported more people than have been deported now. How he got the Nobel peace prize I don’t know. I think it was very important to have a black family in the White House and I think some of the stuff he did was good. He tried really hard about healthcare. But he didn’t go all the way because of big pharma .”
It’s seducing to read some of Sarandon’s fervour as a reaction against her own family’s Republicanism- during the course of its Bush years, her now 94 -year old-mother was interviewed by Bill O’Reilly, and encouraged to theorize on where she went wrong with her daughter.( Sarandon’s mother would probably have voted for Trump, she says, but” I don’t think she got out to vote .” She smiles.” We didn’t facilitate better .”)
All of which builds the actor’s stance on feminism more puzzling. Sarandon is close to her three children- Eva Amurri, whom she had with the Italian film-maker Franco Amurri, and Miles and Jack, her two sons with her former partner of 23 years, Tim Robbins, with whom she is reportedly on good terms .. It was her daughter, Eva, who as a teenager didn’t like the word feminism, says Sarandon, because” it seemed redundant to have to say you were a feminist “.
But it wasn’t.
” No, but she grew up in a house where she had a mom who earned her own fund and was powerful and she’s in a progressive city, with other progressive children- she wasn’t even exposed to the more Republican part of Manhattan. So she was in a progressive bubble. I think the secret is maybe now we have to just say no one is going to fix it for you. It’s up to you to fix it. You have the strength. You shouldn’t turn to be validated by anyone, male or female. You carry your power within you, and if you surround yourself with people who respect you, that will happen, be they male or female .” It is a strange statement from someone who is therefore of the opinion that structural inequality requires political answers. Earlier, she makes the point that Clinton’s refusal to back the $15 minimum wage,” tells you she’s not a feminist, when 50% of the households in America are headed by women .” Clinton espoused a $12 minimum wage, with scope to raise it to $15 in metropolitan centres, but that’s not the point. The phase is self-validation doesn’t pay the rent .)
After the interview, we leave the club and walk towards the subway.” What was her name ?” she says.” In the publication ?”
” Katha Pollitt ,” I say. We component at the corner of Seventh Avenue and Sarandon disappears up the street, puppy under one arm, hat pulled low, deputy at her elbow.” Will I get a load more hatred when this article comes out ?” she shouts, looking back over her shoulder.
“Probably,” I say. I have a hunch she can take it.
Feud: Bette and Joan starts on BBC Two on Saturday 16 December at 9pm. The full series will be available on BBC iPlayer from 10.45 pm that evening.
- This article was amended on 27 November 2017. Jill Stein was the Green party presidential nominee , not an independent.