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Susan Sarandon Is the Real Deal

The Oscar winner and Movies for Grownups Lifetime Achievement Award honoree refuses to fake it

Susan Sarandon photographed in New York City

Susan Sarandon, Movies for Grownups Lifetime Achievement Award honoree, sizzles at 67. — Jeff Lipsky

En español | It's 11 o'clock on a rainy night in New York, and Susan Sarandon is rocking out in Marty's Room, a live-music space within SPiN New York, a Ping-Pong nightclub she helped launch five years ago with a handful of partners. Among those partners is Jonathan Bricklin, 36, a film writer-editor linked romantically to Sarandon despite their three-decade age difference. On the stage singing her pipes out is an aspiring pop musician whom Sarandon hired a while back to staff SPiN's front desk.

Sarandon, dressed in work-style boots, leggings, a polka-dot sweater and a beret, is feeling the vibe. She swings her arms over her head and moves with the groove, comfortable dancing alone in the crowd.

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It's not just the music that's got Sarandon juiced. It's the moment: After 67 years, the woman known as much for her social activism as for her acting understands what brings her joy. "It's the simple things," she says. Good food. Good friends. Sunsets and sunrises. "With age, you gain maybe not wisdom, but at least a bigger picture," she continues, wearing a safety pin in one ear and a silver ring on her thumb, "and you say, 'OK, these are the important things. The rest is just details.' "

With offshoots in L.A., Milwaukee, Toronto and Dubai, United Arab Emirates, the club, located a few blocks from Sarandon's loft, has turned the actress into a self-described Ping-Pong propagandist. "Ping-Pong cuts across every demographic, age and body type," Sarandon says. "Girls can beat their fathers. And even if you're old, you can play it forever."

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The club has become a big part of the life Sarandon reinvented for herself when she and actor Tim Robbins, now 55, her partner of 23 years and the father of two of her three children, split in 2009. Though both have been vague about the reasons for the breakup, Sarandon points to an internal change launched by her performance in Exit the King on Broadway that spring. The play by Eugene Ionesco is about confronting mortality. "You can't do a meditation on death and stay in a situation that's not authentic," she says. "It made me examine where I was in my union and in my life, and to have discussions about making changes."

Next page: Susan at 17: College, marriage and activism. »

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