Susan Sarandon takes Career Achievement Award Chicago International Film Festival opening night

Susan Sarandon received the Chicago International Film Festival’s Career Achievement Award at the fest’s opening night at the Chicago Theater.

Roger Ebert spoke with Sarandon before the screening of Cameron Crowe’s new romantic comedy “Elizabethtown,” in which Sarandon delivers a scene-stealing performance as a manic widow.

Ebert: In a career filled with great work, “Dead Man Walking” stands out as a role that came from your heart and from your convictions.
Sarandon:When I met Sister Helen Prejean, that was the first opportunity I had to talk to somebody who I was going to portray. I grew up with nuns, and none of them were that funny. I was so moved by the way she dealt with this question of unconditional love. For me this was what the movie was about, along with the question of the death penalty and how we apply it so arbitrarily.

This was my first time really surrendering to the piece, not wearing makeup, and trusting the guy sitting across from me, with the hairdo and all the great lines, not to make me look boring. I had to surrender myself to the work, which is what Helen does.