Tim Robbins: Actors not feeling free to espouse their politics is “slavery”


I started out wanting to write about this new Tim Robbins interview because it’s the first big one I’ve seen with Tim talking about his split from Susan Sarandon – which was announced late last year, although they had broken up months before hand. His comments on the breakup seem pretty typical to me – blah, blah, “mid-life crisis” et cetera. But then Tim totally goes off on feeling like a slave because Hollywood makes him feel like he isn’t “free” to espouse his liberal political views. Here’s more from the interview:

The actor and director Tim Robbins, who recently split from his long-term partner Susan Sarandon, has revealed how a “midlife crisis” forced him to re-evaluate his life.

The Oscar-winning star of The Shawshank Redemption and Mystic River said that the collpase of a film project made him appreciate how little time he had left and made him think about what he wanted to achieve before he died.

The crisis happened two years ago, just a matter of months before Robbins and Sarandon split up. Robbins and Sarandon, who is 12 years his senior, separated last year after a 23-year relationship that was considered to be one of Hollywood’s most enduring partnerships. The couple never married but have two sons together.

Interviewed on Radio 4′s Desert island Discs, Robbins said his midlife crisis happened during the “insanity” which followed the collapse of his film project.

“I asked myself the question, “What is it that will make you happy? What is it you have not done that you will regret not doing? A midlife crisis – I think we all go through something, it’s inevitable, it’s unavoidable. You’re staring some kind of frightening thing down. It’s when you pass 40, inherently we double our age when we think about life. At 40 you can imagine 80. You start thinking about how many years you’ve got left, and you start thinking, ‘What the hell am I doing here?’”

Robbins said that the experience encouraged him to write an album of songs which he is set to release later this year.

He said: “I was thinking about calling it ‘The Mid-life crisis Album’, but then I thought that’s not going to sell any copies. Then I thought, ‘How about Songs of Love and Misery?’”

In the programme, which is broadcast today, Kirsty Young, the presenter, asked Robbins if he still hoped to find love “post midlife crisis”, to which he replied: “Let’s hope it’s out there”.

Robbins, an outspoken political activist, also spoke of his disappointment at the growing “slavery” of Hollywood stars to the entertainment industry, where he said actors were increasingly afraid of the risks in speaking out on social and political issues.

He said: “That’s unfortunate. It didn’t use to be that way. I don’t believe you are free if you are measured and careful in what you say because you feel that will make you richer or more famous. I think there’s a slavery in that.”

Robbins also described how the industry attempted to ostracise him and Sarandon following the 1993 Oscars ceremony, where the couple sparked controversy by appearing on stage and demanding that President Clinton shut down an internment camp for HIV-positive Haitian refugees in Cuba.

“I did notice a lot of averted eyes,” he said. “Nobody wanted to look at you. They tried to ban us for a long time, but within two years we were back because we were nominated.”

Robbins told Young that he took up acting as a teenager “out of precociousness and a desperate need to get women’s attention” and also spoke of the cut-throat nature of the Hollywood film industry.

He said: “You’re only ever as good as your last box office receipt. In fact, you might have a really good Friday when the movie does very well, so you better go out Friday and Saturday nights, because by Monday, you’re yesterday’s news.”

Robbins’s choice of music for his desert island included Let’s Get it On by Marvin Gaye, Sinnerman by Nina Simone and In Your Mind by Johnny Cash. His luxury was a surfboard and his chosen book was a book of matches.

[From The Telegraph]

You know what? I’m pretty liberal politically, and I’m here to say that Tim gives liberals a douchey name. Tim’s problem isn’t that it’s “slavery” that he can’t say any liberal political belief he wants – his problem is that not everyone agrees with him and not everyone thinks he’s some kind of liberal savant. His problem is that other people are exercising their free speech by calling him a douche for exercising his free speech. His problem is that when he talks about politics, everyone – including most liberals – roll their eyes. And it’s not “slavery” for God’s sake! Is Tim turning into some kind Kristen Stewart-esque douchey hyperbole machine? Tim feels like he won’t be hired for certain jobs because of his vocal political beliefs – how is that slavery? Do producers keep Tim in chains and whip him when he swoons over Ralph Nader? Ugh.

LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 10: performs at the 'Get Lit-Words Ignite' fundraiser on July 10, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 10: Actor Tim Robbins performs at the 'Get Lit-Words Ignite' fundraiser on July 10, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 10: Actor Tim Robbins performs at the 'Get Lit-Words Ignite' fundraiser on July 10, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

Tim on March 7, 2010. Credit: WENN.

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39 Responses to “Tim Robbins: Actors not feeling free to espouse their politics is “slavery””

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  1. Liana says:

    BRAVA Kaiser! He spews his opinions, but would ignore the opinions of others.

  2. GatsbyGal says:

    Exactly. A lot of people fail to realize that free speech is a two-way road. If people call you out on your bullshit, that doesn’t make you a slave.

  3. tiki says:

    robbins displays his woefully ignorant understanding of slavery when he applies the word to himself and his perceived situation. four words, buddy–grow. the. hell. up.

  4. Andrea says:

    You put it brilliantly; I have nothing to add, but “Bravo”!

  5. Dorothy says:

    I don’t know, Kaiser. I think you are being harsh. His quote was “there is a kind of slavery in that” IMO that means something different than saying it is slavery. Basically I think he is saying people are sheep and anyone that thinks different is not accepted well.

    I see his point but I also agree that he should have said it another way.

  6. Gail says:

    Averted eyes and they were banned. Hmph.

    People also avert their eyes when everyone is trying to have a good time and a buddy is making a loud ass of him/herself.

    Banned? Maybe. It was more likely they were being avoided. Activists never stop talking about their pet causes and all conversational roads lead back to them. Dude, you’re not unpopular because your controversial. You’re unpopular because your a perpetual buzz kill.

  7. t says:

    Thank you for getting this exactly right, Kaiser!

  8. bite me says:

    people like him give hollyweird liberals a bad name

  9. Tess says:

    @ Kaiser

    Ditto to all the accolades.

    @ Dorothy

    Grown ups understand that people hold varying political points of view, and accept the consequences of their actions. It’s not rocket science. It’s just part of being an adult.

  10. jokerjim says:

    This is the problem with all the hard left liberals. Free speech is glorified ONLY if you agree with them. IF someone exercises THEIR free speech and says that Tim Robbins should shut up and go away, then it is wrong.
    Personally, I watch movies and tv for entertainment, NOT to listen to someone that is paid to pretend to be someone else and fictional, spew their thoughts and politics. I have the news for that. Their inflated sense of ego and self importance makes these celebrity and sports figures laughable.
    Tim, if you want to show the world your incredible “intellect”, be a politician. This way you will run one time and be gone. You Hollywood types are the punchline for most of the world. Shut up and make movies.
    PS, they’re not all that great anyway.

  11. LindyLou says:

    The big problem is that if an actor can’t put butts in the seats because he pisses people off or makes them uncomfortable, they won’t hire him for their movies. That is not slavery. He should either keep his opinions to himself or take up another vocation. That is just the way it is for public figures – like it or not.

  12. locagirl says:

    VOMIT! Those Hollywood people are CONSTANTLY spouting their political opinions! What’s disgusting is why do they think THEIR opinions are any better than the average American person’s opinion? They are famous and can be heard. I, on the other hand, with my undergraduate and graduate level education will be heard by no one…..yet the celebrities write off “regular Americans” as stupid. Yep, we’re just a bunch of uneducated morons and thankfully have Tim Robbins, Angelina Jolie, and Gwyneth Paltrow to educate us peasants. Again, vomit.

  13. GC says:

    You know what? I don’t get to go into the boardroom (metaphorically speaking) and spew my political positions either without there being consequences. Why is it that Hollywood celebs think they are so much smarter than the rest of us that they have the right to preach to us what to believe? I agree with several of the other posters – really, I do NOT want to hear what your opinions are. They are a distraction from what your job is and more often than not are not based on us “regular peoples” reality anyway.

  14. mollyb says:

    If ever a person in the public eye is tempted to compare something to “slavery” or “the Holocaust/Nazis”, just stop, please. Think of another way to say it because not only is it insulting, you will get burned for it.

  15. lucy2 says:

    Kaiser, I’m in complete agreement.

  16. Laurie says:

    So he still feels slighted that in 93 he was given the stink eye for talking politics at an awards show?! Award shows are not a platform for self-righteous actors. I wonder if he would be as supportive of a Republican using their actor platform for public political rants? Probably not!!

  17. meme says:

    Dear Tim Robbins,
    SIT DOWN and STFU. Nobody cares.
    Thank you,

    p.s. You’re a super douche

  18. Tess says:

    @ Laurie

    Agreed, and I think you can link the demise of big ratings for award shows to their juvenile misuse by leftists.

  19. andrea says:

    agree, 100%. i wonder what they put in the water in LA that makes so many of them tools?

  20. meg says:

    Umm, apparently he’s choosing not to remember when actors were signed to a studio and OWNED by them. They were told what movies to do, what to wear, who they can be seen “dating”…read up on your our industry, loser.

  21. texasmom says:

    meg — it’s true that the studios used to exert a lot more control over actors, but it wasn’t really *slavery* — you could always refuse to sign a contract with a studio — being an actor is voluntary, after all, they weren’t allowed to sell your children down-river, etc.

    I think Mr. Robbins could just say “censorship” or even exaggerate a bit to say “a sort of tyranny” instead.

  22. di butler says:

    Robbins ruins his acting ability just like Sean Penn. By whining on and on about some perceived persecution in the most liberal bastion ever. Hope he retires and continues to make more idiotic albums.

  23. xxodettexx says:

    ugh! i havent read this yet but wanted to comment real quick… i am very liberal in my political views but i cannot stand it when famous/super-rich get ona their soapboxes and rant at us about what they think about… i could care less what ANY entitled douche has to tell me about how i will vote or think or act…

    his job and all the stupid hollywood morons jobs are to ENTERTAIN us, not try and influence us with their often-times uninformed OPINIONS…

    /rant, now on to the article and what i am sure will be great comments…

  24. Maritza says:

    I didn’t know he sings and composes now. I hope he finds his soul mate.

  25. xxodettexx says:

    @jokerjim: “This is the problem with all the hard left liberals. Free speech is glorified ONLY if you agree with them.”

    actually, jokerjim, this is the problem with ALL extremists… liberal and conservatives… trust me, this is not a problem with just one branch of our government!

  26. Mairead says:

    Speaking as an old-style liberal leftie – bitch, it ain’t even indentured servitude! :roll:

  27. Canucklehead says:

    Geez, sounds to me like if he REALLY wanted to espouse his views he could quit “Hollywood”.

    Nothing makes me sicker than Champagne Socialists. People who want to shout their lefty politics but want to keep their money and privilege, in a “Do what I say, not what I do” kinda way.

    Other Champagne Socialists include

    Naomi Klein and her husband Avi Lewis (who was born with a massive silver spoon in his mouth)

    The Clintons (whatever)

    Bono & U2 (who recently moved the U2 head office to Holland to avoid paying tax in Ireland)


    The only real Hollywood lefty I have any respect for is Sean Penn.

  28. Oi says:

    Its these people (lib or conserv.) that made me a ‘moderate’. We mods. pit the wacko sides against each other. Fun times.

  29. KateNonymous says:

    KateNonymous: Tim Robbins has no sense of perspective or self-awareness, continues to be a jackass

    The guy can act. But while it’s true that the First Amendment applies to everyone in the U.S., I am kind of sick of actors who think that having a bully pulpit makes their opinions inherently valuable.

  30. cara says:

    WOW KAISER>>….I’m with you on this one. Does anyone remember when this ass went bananas b/c he went to the wrong voting hall. like I said HE went to the wrong voting hall. And besides, what besides Jacob’s Ladder was great work???? Seriously, shoot some out there. B/c that’s all that pops into my head.

  31. Jeri says:

    He’s to politics what Tom Cruise is to Scientology. Doesn’t belong on sets/industry events or jobsites.

  32. Paula says:

    This is what Tim actually said: “That’s unfortunate. It didn’t use to be that way. I don’t believe you are free if you are measured and careful in what you say because you feel that will make you richer or more famous. I think there’s a slavery in that.”

    He’s not criticizing people who criticize actors for their political or social views. He’s criticizing actors who self-censor because they’re afraid of losing acting roles or endorsement deals. BIG difference. I still disagree with him, though. Free speech doesn’t protect us from public consequences, and if people in whatever field choose to modify their public remarks out of consideration of potential consequences, that is not slavery. I’d call that pragmatism.

  33. Kim says:

    OMG! I KNEW THIS MAN WAS A MORON BUT HE HAS NOW CONFIRMED HE IS A RACIST AS WELL!! Way to go Tim comparing whack job celebs commenting on politics to slavery! Oh wow how delusional can a human be?!

    If anything its 100% the opposite where stars have the liberty of commenting on politics simply because they are famous and have forums where thousands are watching them and they use this to spouse these political views at inappropraite times (Awards shows).

  34. Ruffian9 says:

    Slavery, Tim, reallY???

    Perspective, meet Tim; Tim, meet perspective.

  35. Gail says:


    *chortle-snort* hee hee! Good one. A lot of folks could use an introduction like that. Me included sometimes.

  36. great808 says:

    Slavery? Tim, are you kidding or are you really that ignorant?

    Tim you just insulted the descendents of thousands of African-American people who really were enslaved in the US.

    You live in Hollywood and are not enslaved and are not under duress.

    You are not the victim of any human rights abuses, so please just stop being a big ‘entitled’ Cry Baby. . . In fact, why dont you call your new albumn ‘Hollywood Cry Baby’?

    Then you might have some credibility.

  37. Djen says:

    I never really understood why I was supposed to pay attention to what Tim Robbins (or any entertainment personality) thinks about politics anyway.

    Go ahead, Tim, speak up! But when you stop merely throwing disdain around and start running for office or taking some other kind of concrete action I might take you a little bit seriously.

    Until then, you’re just another guy with opinions and honey? we’ve all got those…

  38. ak says:

    So, Robbins has discovered that you have to be measured and careful in what you say at your job. Congratulations.

    And this is the measured and careful thing he has to say about a 23-year relationship: “You start thinking about how many years you’ve got left, and you start thinking, ‘What the hell am I doing here?’” Nice. Very nice. He’s a lovely human being.

  39. Kit says:

    He is lovely, actually. I saw him last night and I’m still smitten.