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Tim Robbins joins The 7.30 Report -

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Actor, director and musician Tim Robbins is in Australia to perform at the Sydney Festival as part
of a one-off concert called Rogue's Gallery.,He spoke with Kerry O'Brien in-between rehearsals.

Transcript

KERRY O'BRIEN, PRESENTER: Legendary filmmaker Robert Altman once declared actor, writer and
director Tim Robbins "the second coming of Orson Wells". Certainly he's carved out his own place in
the film world after first catching the critics' eye in a baseball comedy called Bull Durham 22
years ago. It was on that filmset that he also met his partner, Susan Sarandon. He's since won an
Oscar as Best Supporting Actor in the powerful thriller Mystic River and was nominated as Best
Director for his own film Dead Man Walking, in which Sarandon won the Best Actress Oscar. The two
were such a Hollywood fixture that the industry was unusually shocked by the news just before
Christmas that Sarandon and Robbins had separated. He's in Australia for a Sydney Festival
performance on Thursday night with a range of other artists, including Marianne Faithfull and Peter
Garrett, for a one-off concert called Rogue's Gallery, produced by impresario Hal Willner.

I spoke with Tim Robbins during a break in rehearsals at the ABC's Sydney studious.

Tim Robbins, so what drew you to Rogue's Gallery?

TIM ROBBINS, ACTOR: Hal Willner. He's a friend. He and I first met at Saturday Night Live many
years ago, when I hosted it, and he's also walked on Robert Altman's films and so I met him through
that too. So he swept me up one day, said, "Come on, we're going to Europe and we're gonna do these
shows." And I said, "Hell, yeah." I mean, I love Hal. I think he's a really super-talented producer
and visionary and he's done a real service, I think, to all of us by these albums that he's put out
of the Rogue's Gallery and the pirate sea Shanties, because he's unearthed some songs that were
gone, you know. It's something to really consider, because music can die. You know, it's in a lot
of ways an oral tradition, and, yeah, there's lyrics written down, but who's singing the tune from
generation to generation.

These songs are all about the people that didn't make it into the history books. This isn't about
Captain Cook, this is about the guy that was down below, swathing the deck and being whipped. So,
and those are really important stories to continue telling. It's like Pete Seigert said: we're all
links in a chain. If I can connect one generation to the next generation, that's my job as a
storyteller. That I can - if I can take 10 songs that were never heard when I was young and find
them, and introduce them to a new generation so that they survive for another however many years,
that's, you know, that's a real social responsibility to be able to continue the life of music.

KERRY O'BRIEN: When you set out on a film career, what was your ambition, because despite all your
successes, you haven't exactly been a studio player, have you, and you certainly haven't played the
Hollywood game. In fact you were part of a film that sent it up rather savagely.

TIM ROBBINS: Yeah, Altman said we were too nice to them.

KERRY O'BRIEN: That was The Player.

TIM ROBBINS: Ah, The Player. Ah, yeah, I've avoided that. I guess I'm - I guess I get bored, you
know, with that kind of movie. I'm just don't do well with them. You know, those big action things.
I need more story. And it's not that I won't do them, it's just that they haven't really presented
themselves, and I've had very interesting things presented to me, so ...

KERRY O'BRIEN: How important was Bull Durham for you?

TIM ROBBINS: It was very important. It opened up a lot of possibilities in my career, and really it
was the first time I was offered films to star in after that.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Can you remember the feeling you felt as you walked away from it and realised that
you'd actually scored with it?

TIM ROBBINS: Didn't know that until it came out. We knew we had a good time making it.

KERRY O'BRIEN: But can you remember the feeling?

TIM ROBBINS: Yeah. Yeah, I remember that feeling of, "Oh, life is changing. This is gonna be
different now."

KERRY O'BRIEN: Where are you right now in your film career, and I don't mean what film are you
doing next, more what stage of the journey are you at?

TIM ROBBINS: I'm in a phase where I don't want to work for the sake of working. It has to be
interesting, it has to be compelling. I have enough money, so I don't need to work. What I want to
do is I want to find what gives me joy, and one of the ways I found joy over the past few years,
because you can't be doing movies all the time, is music. And to be able to be on the road with a
movie I was doing and to be able to walk into a blues club with a guitar and being invited up to
play with people, that can happen anywhere. You don't need a multi-million budget, you don't need
the OK from a studio, you'd don't need someone telling you it's OK to tell your story; here's some
money so you can tell your story. You can do it any day of the week, in any place. And, for me,
that was a liberation, once I discovered that, that you can get great joy by something that is
completely motivated by your own actions.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Your two most awarded films were Dead Man Walking and Mystic River.

TIM ROBBINS: Yeah.

KERRY O'BRIEN: But what has been your favourite. What are you proudest of?

TIM ROBBINS: I'm proudest of a film called Cradle Will Rock that I don't think ever got released in
Australia. And I wonder why, because it's got a lot of great actors in it.

KERRY O'BRIEN: That was another political film.

TIM ROBBINS: It's a story about art and what it is to be able to express yourself in a free
society. And, I don't know if that's political, but I think it's certainly about culture and it's
about the politics. There was a certain thing about the politics of the time. But for me it was
really about that woman that stands up in that theatre to sing her song. That was really that
moment in that, you know, in the story of what does it take? What kind of courage does it take? Do
you have to risk your entire life, your livelihood, your job in order to express yourself? And in
that one moment in time, that one woman doing that for me was a great inspiration.

KERRY O'BRIEN: And how important was the Oscar for you, because on the one hand, no, you haven't
played the game, on the other hand, there it is. Bit hard to deny.

TIM ROBBINS: Well, hey, listen, I would much rather have it. (Laughs).

KERRY O'BRIEN: (Laughs).

TIM ROBBINS: When I won it I was like, "That's a relief. Now I don't have to worry about that
anymore." I was honoured, you know. It was a great night. And I was happy to win for that film and
I was happy to win with my friend Shaun that day. It was nice. That was I was most nervous about,
because my award was the first one of the night and his was one of the last. And I'm just looking
over at him like, "Oh, God, this is gonna be such a long night if he doesn't win." It's gonna be no
fun at all. But, no, it was good, it was fun.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Dead Man Walking underscores just one aspect of what has been a very successful
23-year personal and professional partnership with Susan Sarandon. I can understand and respect why
you might not want to talk about the break up, but it's been such an unusually enduring
relationship by film industry standards, hasn't it? It must be doubly hard when two lives are so
intensely interwoven for so long.

TIM ROBBINS: Um, yeah. We did good job though. We raised some good kids.

KERRY O'BRIEN: I've read that. Friends, particularly, saying what a great job you did as parents.

TIM ROBBINS: Yep. But it's something that - you know, throughout our relationship, I never have
talked about it publicly. I felt it was always something that you have to respect and not treat as
part of the whole business and the whole idea of celebrity. I thought - and I was pretty strong
about keeping them separate. And so I think I'm gonna do that in this period as well.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Well then this is the only other question I'm going to ask. Have you been able to
retain a friendship?

TIM ROBBINS: Yeah.

KERRY O'BRIEN: An enduring friendship?

TIM ROBBINS: Mm.

KERRY O'BRIEN: One assumes that you've still got plenty of film and stage opportunities ahead. So,
do you have any big burning ambitions left, something that you want to do that you haven't really
done. I suspect the answer might relate to music.

TIM ROBBINS: Yeah. I want to go around the world. I want to tour. My son is 17 now. He's in his
final year of high school. He'll be heading off to college. So I don't really have the tie of - I
don't have the responsibility as much as I did in the past of being home. So it should be an
interesting period, this coming five, six years.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Have you taken a walk round the Opera House?

TIM ROBBINS: No, I haven't.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Not a bad venue.

TIM ROBBINS: Yeah, it's beautiful. It's beautiful, yeah. Yeah, we were talking about that last
night: how beautiful that architecture is. Trying to figure out how it was conceived. But, yeah,
I'm really happy to be doing this. It's a fun night too. You know, there's all kinds of different
kinds of sea shanties. There's romantic ones, there's ones about whipping young boys to death. And
there's one about some twisted sexuality. It's all kinds of fun. You name it. You try being on a
ship for five months. You better come up with some pretty good ditties.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Or be very fast on your feet. Tim Robbins, thanks very much for talking with us.

TIM ROBBINS: My pleasure, thanks.

KERRY O'BRIEN: There's a longer version of that interview going on our website if you're
interested.