Crucially important to any movie in which a murdered 14-year-old girl spies on her grieving family from heaven is comic relief, and The Lovely Bones’ comes courtesy of Susan Sarandon’s boozy, chain-smoking, pill-swilling grandma character. We had the pleasure of running into the always-awesome Sarandon at Bones’ New York premiere last week, and she gamely fielded questions about whether she imbibed on the set and how tequila affects her Ping-Pong game.
How did you get into this character as the grandmother of the dead girl? It’s so sad.
I drank and smoked and partied down. No, I didn’t do that. I think I probably had the easiest job of anyone, because I was going against all the really difficult feelings and trying to keep everybody moving forward and remembering to live and letting the light in, literally. Plus, I was always drinking and smoking, so I have lots of props — so it was actually pretty fun.
Your character is always drinking and smoking …
Oh, always. The only thing hard was figuring out how to act, drink, and smoke simultaneously. Even in bed, I’m smoking.
Was this the drunkest role you’ve had?
Um, I drank a lot in White Palace. Of course, I did other things in White Palace that I don’t do in this one, but I think I drank a lot in that one.
Since this movie is about such a depressing topic, I want to know if you’ve ever done anything racy in a cemetery.
No. That’s a terrible segue. First of all, because the movie and the book both start with her voice-over and her as the narrator, you know that everything’s going to be okay because she’s in control, because she’s telling the story. So I think it’s really moving and emotional, but I wouldn’t call it depressing. But I have never done anything racy in a graveyard, no.
Did you ever actually have alcohol in your glass while shooting the movie?
No. I’m not really a drinker. I don’t think it really agrees with me; I get tired. Except for tequila. I like tequila.
Do you drink it in shots or in margaritas?
Shots. That’s my drink of choice. I like mescal, actually.
The drink with the worm in it?
Yeah. I like different kinds of mescal. In my bar I’m trying to get more mescal, but you have to go to little villages to get it. You know, at the Ping-Pong club that I have. We have some mescal, but not enough.
Do shots of tequila help your Ping-Pong game?
[Laughs] No! Not at all. But it helped the other day when we had our party and Mel Gibson and Josh Brolin, when we had the party for Wall Street 2, it seemed to help everybody’s game at that particular function, but not me.
You drank some, but it didn’t help your game?
No, I don’t really drink.
But you had the wrap party there?
That was a pretty interesting, wild party. They were all playing and drinking and they seemed to be fine. So I guess you just have to do it more often; maybe that’s the key.
Is Josh Brolin a good Ping-Pong player?
He was pretty good. They got very competitive; really competitive, so that was really funny.
Was anybody a standout at Ping-Pong? Any real stars?
Well, there are a lot of people that are supposedly quite good, like George Clooney and Jamie Foxx — and Ed Norton tells me that he’s really, really good.
But out of the people at your party.
Well, there were, but I don’t know that you’d know them — we had some people on the crew that were really excellent. I don’t remember Shia playing. Michael [Douglas] wasn’t there, I think he had something with the family, so he couldn’t come.
See what Sarandon’s co-stars said about the movie in our Party Lines slideshow.