Photo: Courtesy of Warner Brothers.
Susan Sarandon is much younger — in appearance and in spirit — than her 67 years. But, for her latest role in Melissa McCarthy's comedy Tammy, which follows a hijinks-filled family road trip, she turns the clock in the other direction. Sarandon plays grandmother Pearl to McCarthy's Tammy, and no detail was spared in her makeover — or, rather, makeolder.
Pearl is a retiree who rocks high-waisted pants and silver curls with the best of 'em. To get into character, Sarandon donned a wig, strapped on prosthetic cankles, and embraced bad lighting and even worse posture. She also ditched her normally chic wardrobe. "I think for me the clothing helped a lot," she said. "I mean, if you put on jeans really high up, that are elasticized, it does something to you mentally. It wasn't a pretty thing."
While Pearl may look the part of a septuagenerian, her behavior is anything but. Melissa McCarthy has described the character as someone who "has raging problems with alcohol and sleeps around," and that's pretty spot on. Pearl spends much of the movie knocking back six packs of Dale's Pale Ale, swearing, and rabble-rousing. One of the flick's funnier bits comes after a night out at a local watering hole; Pearl entertains a new gentleman friend (played by Gary Cole) in the backseat of her car.
Amusingly enough, that was one of the first scenes that Cole and Sarandon filmed after meeting for the first time, but Sarandon was relieved to find it wasn't as awkward as it sounds. "I don't know if people were going 'ick' [when they watched the scene], but making it was great," she said. "Gary didn't seem the least bit uncomfortable so that put me at ease — which was good, because we were having quite a romp. The backseat wasn't all that large so we were all on top of each other with arms all eschew. And, we had to do a lot of takes."
Sarandon's turn in Tammy was good practice for her off-screen life — no, she's not spending the summer carousing with Cole (though that sounds pretty fun). Her daughter, Eva Amurri Martino, is pregnant with her first child (and Sarandon's first grandbaby). Of course, the actress is planning on being a slightly better role model than Pearl — all the laughs, minus the drinking and stealing.
"I aspire to be the Auntie Mame kind of grandparent," Sarandon explained. "Who takes you on fabulous trips and spoils you and is cooler than your parents, since you can break the rules and the parents can't." But, really, can you think of a better grandmother than Susan Sarandon? After all, she knows how to "Time Warp" (again).