Susan Sarandon is an extremely popular and successful actress, but people don’t necessarily know much about her private life. They might know that Californication and How I Met Your Mother actress Eva Amurri is actually her daughter – but they may not know the surprising details of how and why Sarandon had her. And it was only in 2013 that she began opening up about a pregnancy that she never expected to happen.
Sarandon came from a big family – she was the oldest of nine children. As such, she spent a lot of her early life as a mother figure to her younger siblings. “Being at the top, I had a lot of responsibility, which was a good thing, as I tended to be spacey and always daydreaming,” she told Time Out magazine in August 2014.
That was before the award-winning actress took the name that she bears today. In fact, she was born Susan Tomalin; the name Sarandon came from her first husband, Chris Sarandon. The pair met in college and married when the Thelma and Louise star was 20 years old. But it didn’t last. After 12 years of marriage, they called it a day in 1979.
Following her first husband, Sarandon had a few more flings with men in the entertainment industry, as she sought to carve out her own space in the acting world. One of these lovers was rocker David Bowie, a relationship that she only revealed in 2014. And she also got involved with director Louis Malle and British actor Philip Sayer, who later came out as gay. Bowie and Sayer both appeared with Sarandon in the 1983 vampire flick The Hunger.
However, something else happened to Sarandon on the set of The Hunger. After a period of sporadic bleeding and fainting, she was diagnosed with the condition endometriosis. And the doctors who examined her told her that if she one day wished to give birth, she would probably have to have surgery. Ultimately, they gave her some birth control pills and sent her on her way.
Sarandon would later, in a speech at the 2011 Blossom Ball (hosted by the Endometriosis Foundation of America), refer to this as a “half-assed diagnosis.” But she wasn’t overly upset at the idea that she might never have children. “It didn’t break my heart; I had plenty of nieces and nephews by that time,” she told Time Out in 2014. “I was fine with it.”
Sarandon is far from the only famous person to be diagnosed with endometriosis. Indeed, the disease appears in 10 percent of women who are of reproductive age. But there’s still a surprisingly large proportion of people who haven’t heard of it. In an effort to raise awareness, celebrities like Whoopi Goldberg, Lena Dunham and Star Wars star Daisy Ridley have all spoken out about their struggles with the disease.
After her diagnosis Sarandon, stopped taking birth control, perhaps figuring that she had no need for it. In 1984 she then embarked on a relationship with Italian film director Franco Amurri, whom she had met previously on the set of Tempest in 1981. Neither of them intended for the relationship to last very long. Certainly, neither of them expected that Sarandon would end up pregnant. But she did.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the people around Sarandon were shocked. And they questioned whether a baby would be bad for her career, which was just starting to really take off. If she had wanted to, Sarandon could have had an abortion. In fact, she had already had one in her early twenties, following an ill-fated affair. And she was an activist for abortion rights. But she decided that she was going to keep the baby.
In 2013, Sarandon revealed her pregnancy story on Oprah’s Master Class, where she described what happened when she made her choice. “I said to Franco, you know, ‘I’ve decided that I’m going to have this baby. And if you want to be part of it, that’s great. If you don’t, that’s great too. Because I thought, you know what, if this was an impossibility and it’s happened, clearly it’s meant to happen.”
So on March 15, 1985, Sarandon gave birth to a daughter, Eva Amurri. Though Eva took her father’s last name, Sarandon and Franco Amurri didn’t marry. Indeed, Sarandon later began a relationship with actor Tim Robbins. However, Eva would still see her father and visit him in Italy as she grew up. But that wasn’t the end of the story.
Though Sarandon had always been an accomplished actress, her real big break came in 1988. She acted alongside Tim Robbins in the film Bull Durham, and it was a huge hit. More notable roles followed, including in Thelma & Louise and Lorenzo’s Oil. And in 1995 she took home a Best Actress Oscar for her performance in Dead Man Walking.
As the decade went on, Sarandon became more and more involved in activism work. And she put significant time and energy into progressive political agendas, including anti-death penalty campaigns, inspired by her work on Dead Man Walking. Meanwhile, she was also growing her family.
In fact, she had two more children, both boys. First came Jack Henry Robbins, born to Sarandon and Tim Robbins in 1989. Then, a few years later, in 1992, the couple had a second son named Miles. Though Sarandon and Robbins co-parented the kids, they did not contemplate marriage.
But in the end, the relationship didn’t work out. They split in 2009. “I thought that if you didn’t get married, you wouldn’t take each other for granted as easily,” Sarandon told The Telegraph in 2010. “I don’t know if after twentysomething years that was still true.” But her children, adults by then, appeared to pull through fine.
In fact, Eva became an actress, following in her mother’s footsteps. At first she took small roles alongside her mother, including an episode of Friends. Gradually, she began to get more roles on her own. By 2011, she had appeared in several big TV shows, including Californication, New Girl and House.
Additionally, 2011 was also the year Amurri married her long-term boyfriend, Kyle Martino. Both Sarandon and Robbins, who remained amicable despite their split, were there at the wedding. So were many friends of the family, including Sister Helen Prejean, the nun and anti-death penalty advocate who Sarandon had played in Dead Man Walking. The festivities lasted an entire weekend.
Subsequently, Amurri announced that she was to become a mother. When Time Out magazine asked Sarandon in 2014 how it felt, knowing she would soon be a grandma, Sarandon replied, “I feel a little like I did when I was pregnant… There’s some part of your brain that can’t wrap itself around this idea that your child, that your daughter, is going to have a daughter. I mean, it’s just so beautiful and huge.”
Eva Amurri’s daughter, Marlowe Mae, was born in August 2014. Two years later another child, Major James, added to the family. “Being a grandmother is so much easier than being a mother. You don’t have that constant worry that’s in your mind all the time,” Sarandon told the Metro in 2016, a few months before Major James came into the world.
There’s every possibility that Sarandon may have more grandchildren in the future. But at the moment she’s greatly enjoying spending time with the ones that she already has. As a matter of fact, they appear alongside her in Instagram snaps, clearly having fun. And it’s all the more remarkable when you consider that Sarandon never expected to have any biological descendants at all.