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Sarandon: A Woman Of Passion

The last time Susan Sarandon was directed by her significant other Tim Robbins, she won an Oscar for portraying a nun who opposed the death penalty in Dead Man Walking.

Their latest collaboration, Cradle Will Rock, deals with another social issue: freedom of expression. The Early Show reports.

Cradle Will Rock is set in New York in the 1930s. As labor strikes break out throughout the country, New York City is alive with a burgeoning cultural revolution.

Sarandon's character is an Italian propagandist, Margherita Sarfatti, who sells art to wealthy people to finance Benito Mussolini's war effort.

"Margherita Sarfatti was kind of an ambassador of a culture but sent here to really kind of whitewash Mussolini and fund the war at a time when Americans were not supposed to be funding the war," explains Sarandon.

This former mistress of Mussolini uses her skillfully applied charm to gain entrance into the hub of American power.

Highly successful as an art broker as well as a ghostwriter of Hearst newspaper articles for Mussolini, she comes up with money for fascists by marketing masterpieces to Nelson Rockefeller and his peers.

"Ultimately she was in a difficult situation because she was Jewish," Sarandon adds. "This is a classic example of someone loving someone and not seeing what was happening, because she ended up having to flee the country after she had made the war possible."

The film captures the period, Sarandon says, adding that it even portrays an incident when the National Guard was sent to close down a show directed by Orson Welles that was about to open.

"It's funny, and it has a great cast," she says, adding that so far the film is doing very well.

"Dead Man Walking showed you can't predict audiences anymore. You can make a smart movie, and people will see it," she adds.

When asked if being directed by Robbins made things difficult at home, Sarandon says that things are always hectic at home whenever they are working - whether Robbins is directing her or not.

Sarandon points out that "Dead Man Walking was really the project that I found, and I had such a huge part. [In this film] I'm just kind of an hors d'oeuvre, not the entrée."

But however big or small her part, Sarandon is a celebrated actress. A New York Times article credited her with being the one that turned other actresses older than 40 into being sexy.

"Women have always been sexy and interested in sex after 40. It would be dull in all the bedrooms in America. I don't think I'm the only one interested in things of that nature. Maybe we're getting more mature," Sarandon says.

"Certainly in Europe they have never done this thing of separating a woman from her sexuality when she becomes a mother or when she starts to become older. And so maybe we're maturing as an audience," she adds.

"I'm slightly more confident, more focused," she says. "Once you get out of your 20s and [are] not in a lot of bad affairs and spending a lot of time loving the wrong guy, you can get past your identity crisis. Once you find your voice, I think, you're ready to put your energy some place," she notes.

"I'm only interested in people who make mistakes. I'm not interested in coming through the door heroically," she says about the characters she's interested in.

This season she also appears in another film, Anywhere But Here.

And on Monday, as a UNICEF representative, Sarandon gave a report on the state of the world's children in the year 2000.

"[It] was a pretty scary report but we're calling on leadership all over the world to try to make a difference. Everyone is talking about what to do for the millennium. I think we have to concentrate on women and children," she notes.

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