Tim Robbins: Indies, Family, and Boy Scouts
by Lydia Marcus
At a press conference prior to the Piper Heidsick tribute at the
Sundance Film Festival, Tim Robbins shared how his many years behind the
scenes and as an actor for his theater troupe The Actors Gang, (a place he
described as his "refuge" in his early years as an actor), along with lessons
he learned working with Robert Altman and Ron Shelton, helped him prepare for
his multifaceted career as actor/writer/director of independent films.
He credited two of his earliest films - the disasterous big budget studio
flop "Howard the Duck" and the independent film "Five Corners",
with helping him establish his career as an actor because they led, "to people
thinking I could do both comedy and drama." Despite the indie nature of his films
"Bob Roberts" and "Dead Man Waking", Robbins said, "I'm not going to
sit here and damn Hollywood," citing filmmakers Spike Lee, Gus Van Sant and Sam
Fuller as filmmakers who've been able to maintain their independent visions while
working with major studios. He also clarified that though he felt "Bob Roberts"
was a political film, he believes "Dead Man Walking" had more to do
with "The idea of love, unconditional love," than with the death penality
Robbins also shared the many reasons for his politcal activism by saying,
"When someone calls you on the phone and says, 'Here's what's going on in
Haiti,' and you have an opportunity to do something about it, then it's kind
of your responsiblity to do it...I'm not saying it's everyone's
responsibility to do it, I'm not saying that actors should do it, I'm saying
it's who I am, it's what I was raised to do. It has everything to do with my
parents, the Catholic school I went to and it also has to do with the Boy
Scouts because when you're a Boy Scout and you see an old woman on the street
and she needs a little help, you help her and you're not supposed to look the
other way. Maybe that's naive but I gotta say a lot of that Oscar thing had
to do with being a Boy Scout to tell you the truth."
Robbins admits that he has been recently absent from the screen becauseafter
two years of making and promoting "Dead Man Walking" he was ready for rest and
quality time with his family. He revealed that both he and mate Susan
Sarandon choose their projects around their kids schedules, preferring to
stay close to home with their three kids and looking for worthwhile projects
to film during the summer. "It's hard at times, I just turned down a lot of
money yesterday for a movie. It was a big schedule and it was over a long
period of time, it was going to be out of the country, and I really don't
want to miss what's going on right now (with my kids).
Robbins can be seen in May in the feature film "Nothing to Lose" and is
currently writing a screenplay.