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How Susan Sarandon Fought To Land Her Role In Bull Durham

It's difficult to imagine "Bull Durham" without Susan Sarandon, but such a scenario almost happened. The 1988 comedy features Sarandon as Annie Savoy, a woman who has an affair with a minor league baseball player each season. In the film, Annie finds herself in an odd love triangle with a rookie pitcher (Tim Robbins) and a seasoned catcher (Kevin Costner). Much of the movie's charm comes from the familiarity and wit of director and writer Ron Shelton's screenplay, but it's the three leads that provide the movie its heart. 

While she's now a household name, according to Shelton, Sarandon was never on the studio's list of approved actors for the role of Annie. This led to Sarandon lying to her agent that she had the part, according to a 2022 Hollywood Reporter interview. Sarandon flew from Italy when the movie was in preproduction and arrived in character, sporting a red dress and talking circles around Costner, who also beat out a real-life baseball player for his role. Sarandon was so good in the room, the studio head approved her. Shelton recalled, however, that he wasn't the only one advocating for Sarandon. 

"I found out later she went right from the audition to the studio, Orion Pictures on Avenue of the Stars. She worked her way up and down the hallways until she found all the executives that matter," Shelton said. "She pretended she had business there. ... [Then she] flew back to Italy, and by the time she landed, she had the part."

Bull Durham was Sarandon's favorite movie experience

Fans can't think of "Bull Durham" without thinking about Susan Sarandon. According to the actor, she loves the movie like so many others. When asked on Twitter what her favorite Susan Sarandon movie was, she revealed she had the most fun making "Bull Durham."

"Most fun was 'Bull Durham,' but cause I found the book of 'Dead Man Walking' and produced [it], that was dear to my heart," she said. 

"Bull Durham" and "Dead Man Walking" aren't exactly the easiest double bill. While "Bull Durham" leans on comedy, rivalry, and romance, "Dead Man Walking" is an examination of the morality of the death penalty through the relationship of a nun (Sarandon) and a convicted killer (Sean Penn).

Director Tim Robbins further detailed the movie's beginnings in a 1996 interview with Charlie Rose, explaining that Sarandon met the real-life Sister Helen Prejean, who wrote the book based on her experiences with convicted killers. After the meeting, Sarandon brought in Robbins as her partner on the movie. The movie was only further proof of Sarandon's magnetism onscreen as she won the Best Actress Academy Award in 1996 for her work.