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Susan Sarandon shows up late, leaves audience in stitches during CT live show with ex, Chris Sarandon

Daniel Figueroa IV

May 26, 2023

Oscar-winning actor Susan Sarandon and her ex-husband, Oscar-nominated actor Chris Sarandon, reunited onstage Thursday at the SHU Community Theater in Fairfield after decades apart.

Most anyone who’s driven between New York and Connecticut — be it I-95 or the Merritt — knows you need some pretty solid motivation to make a trip north during rush hour.

Thursday night, Academy Award-winning performer and activist Susan Sarandon made the journey from Manhattan to Fairfield to reunite with ex-husband Chris Sarandon — an Academy Award nominee himself — for a live taping of the latter Sarandon’s podcast, “Cooking by Heart,” at the Sacred Heart University Community Theater.

It was the first time the former couple appeared together since their divorce nearly 50 years ago. And Susan made her motivations for making the trek — which pushed the show back 40 minutes because of traffic — abundantly clear.

Susan and Chris Sarandon reunite at the SHU Community Theater on Thursday, May 24, 2023. | Contributed

“When I met Chris, I thought — and correctly so — that he knew everything. Because he took me to black and white movies and introduced me to literature and basically saved my life with his kindness,” she said. “As you can imagine I wasn’t too stable coming (from a large working-class family in New Jersey). He was incredibly patient…So really, I credit you with my foundation and my survival. One of the reasons I’m here is to publicly say that.”

Chris Sarandon met Susan (then Tomalin) when he was a graduate student at Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., and she was a freshman. Susan was the eldest of eight children at the time (her mother was pregnant with a ninth during Susan and Chris’ wedding) and said she was “the hip the kids was on.” As the oldest, she was more of a second mother to her siblings than a child.

Her home life, she said, was chaotic. Food wasn’t a joy, it was maintenance. Most of the neighborhood families were even larger she said. The kind of close-knit, blue collar Catholic community where she said the “gene pool never had time to mutate” and leisure activities included sitting in an inflatable pool or picking rocks in the yard.

When it came time to college, she got into some, but had no concept of deadlines. But a drama teacher got her into the drama program at Catholic U and she was off.

Thursday’s show was Chris Sarandon’s second live taping of “Cooking by Heart,” the podcast he started last year to interview chefs, celebrities and others about food and memory.

The conversation felt more like old friends catching up than watching an interview. And, in essence, that’s exactly what it was. Despite being divorced for years, the Tomalin family and Sarandon families stayed in touch, just not Chris and Susan. Their mothers were even friends later in life when they both wound up in Florida.

“Every time I would bring my kids down to Florida to visit my mom, your mom would come over to hang out with us,” Chris told Susan.

Susan and Chris Sarandon reunite at the SHU Community Theater on Thursday, May 24, 2023. | Contributed

“She never told me,” she responded. “Wow, she had a whole different life.”

The comment got some laughter from the crowd.

Chris also mentioned being in touch with her siblings. Some have even come to his shows over the years.

“I’m the only one that wasn’t in touch?” Susan asked, shocked, to more laughter.

 “Yeah,” Chris said, nonplussed.

“Unbelievable,” Susan responded to more laughter and applause.

Despite the late start, the audience was warm and welcoming — partly thanks to an impromptu pre-show show from Chris and his current wife of nearly 30 years, Tony winner Joanna Gleason. Gleason, an accomplished performer in her own right, engaged the crowd, asking them questions about food. She even left a few hungry with stories of her lamb tajine.

Chris Sarandon & Joanna Gleason at the SHU Community Theater on Thursday, May 24, 2023. | Contributed

Susan Sarandon told candid stories about family and food, including how Chris’s mother also nearly saved her life with avgolemono soup, a silky Greek soup made with eggs, chicken and lots of lemon.

“Got through many a cramping every month with avgolemono soup,” she said.

She talked about her daughter, Westport’s Eva Amurri. Amurri, whom she had with Italian director Franco Amurri. Amurri, also an actor, currently runs a lifestyle blog, "Happily Eva After."

“How to make cocktails, how to cook food, how to carve pumpkins, how to do your hair, you know all that stuff,” Susan said of her daughter's blog. “And every now and then she writes really funny things about how much she hates her children at the moment. Which is really nice, to have someone who isn't perfect.”

Her daughter, she said, is like “an affordable Gwyneth Paltrow,” eliciting another round of laughter.

Susan Sarandon has had a prolific career as a performer spanning six decades. She’s also had some famous relationships. She and Chris Sarandon didn’t have children, but she had Amurri in her next relationship and two sons with actor Tim Robbins, who she was in a relationship with for more than 20 years. After Chris, she never married again. It wasn’t for her, she said. And being able to live with Chris while attending a Catholic school was a bonus.

Her son, Miles, she said, gave her some dating advice during the pandemic.

“He said, ‘You should pick a man with cats because they respect independent women. Someone who doesn’t need your tail to be wagging,’” she told the crowd.

Now, she says, she lives with her three cats. There’s Ida, an older, grumpy cat with a mark on her chin that makes it look like she’s always sad; Sweetie, a small two-year old who Ida is constantly trying to kill and Harry, a nine-month-old male who likes to cuddle, but who the other cats won’t play with.

“My apartment is so small I didn’t have a door on my bedroom. But now I got a door on my bedroom so I can kind of manage the team,” she said. “So, I'm back on cats. One, that is a cat person. A cat lady is definitely — when you’re over two, you become a cat lady.”

Even with a late start, the crowd – and Susan – were willing to stick around.

"I came all this way, we have to at least talk for a long time," she said to more laughter.

The conversation then swung to one of her latest passions, her work with One Fair Wage, a nonprofit that looks to end the sub-minimum wage earnings of tipped workers who get carved out of minimum wage hikes. Susan was recently — and proudly — arrested recently while protesting a bill that would again carve tipped workers out of a raise while at the State Capitol in Albany.

She said she told a guard they were actually helping the cause by arresting the protestors.

"You're really on our side," she told the guard. "We need you to arrest us because that's how this is going to get in the news. I didn't know anything about it. So actually, you're working with us and there's so many people that you are really helping by working with us."

The full, nearly hourlong interview will premier on Chris Sarandon's podcast, "Cooking by Heart," this fall.

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