Her own kids think she's almost as embarrassing as her ''Anywhere but Here'' character

By Josh Wolk
Updated November 15, 1999 at 05:00 AM EST
Susan Sarandon
Credit: Courtesy 20th Century Fox

In ”Anywhere but Here,” which opens today, Susan Sarandon plays a flighty and flamboyant single mom who constantly mortifies her teenage daughter (Natalie Portman). As the mother of three kids herself — a 14-year-old daughter and two sons, ages 10 and 7 — Sarandon says she can’t match the eye-roll-inspiring antics of her ”Anywhere” character (flirting relentlessly on the beach, spending the electric-bill money on garish outfits), but she knows firsthand that a mother doesn’t have to reach those heights to make her children cringe. ”I tell my kids, ‘It’s my job to embarrass you,’ so that gets me off the hook right away,” she says. ”But I’m not as bad as I am in this movie. Maybe if they see this, it’ll make them happy that I’m not that far out.”

To the average kid, having glamorous celebs like Sarandon and Tim Robbins as your folks would seem like winning the parental lottery. But not to hers. ”Their friends probably think I’m cooler than they do,” says Sarandon. ”They don’t think I’m cool at all. My daughter complains that I go out in the morning and work out and never get out of my sweats. We’ve gone through periods where she’s laid out clothes for me everyday, to get me to pull myself together a little more.” And apparently they’re not doing much bragging about their lineage either. ”My daughter was just given my monologue from ‘Bull Durham’ to do in her drama class because the teacher didn’t know she was my daughter,” says the actress. ”She said, ‘I can’t do that,’ and when she explained why the woman was shocked.”

Her kids have only seen two of her movies: ”Little Women” and the upcoming ”Cradle Will Rock” (written and directed by Robbins). ”They’re really not interested,” she says. ”Every now and then if I get an award, I say, ‘Do you want to go…’ and it’s, ‘No, we don’t.’ I couldn’t even get them to watch when my ‘Biography’ was on A&E the other night. I thought they’d think it was very funny, because there was gonna be all this footage of me as a little kid. But they wouldn’t stop the tape they were watching. They weren’t even curious. By the time their tape was finished, the ‘Biography’ was at the part where they came in, so THEN they were interested.”