Where, one wonders, is Susan Sarandon's inner censor? To read interviews with the Academy Award-winning actor from the past 20 years is to experience near visual whiplash at her astonishing level of candour.
Abortion? She had one in her 20s when her first marriage (to actor Chris Sarandon) was breaking down and she had an affair with ''an insane guy''.
Drugs? Of course she took mescaline in her youth, when ''taking mind-expanding drugs'' was the done thing.
Cosmetic surgery? She recently happily admitted to having had liposuction under her chin and under her eyes.
And that's not even touching on Sarandon's near-kamikaze method of airing her left-wing political views: campaigning for the rights of Haitians interned in Cuba while presenting at the 1993 Oscars (which horrified many of her peers); calling Pope Benedict XVI a Nazi for indirectly sheltering paedophiles within the church, at last year's Hamptons International Film Festival (which horrified her conservative mother, not to mention the Anti-Defamation League of America).
The list goes on. Why, when most of her peers seem to have mastered Question Avoidance 101, does she continually speak as though no one's recording?
''I don't feel like a huge risk-taker,'' Sarandon says on the phone, her sensually husky voice filling my earpiece. ''I think when you're involved with issues that are unpopular and are trying to get information to people that they don't have access to, and you do … maybe it's another kind of hubris that tells you you can't live with yourself if you don't do it.''
As for her more intimate admissions? A clue to Sarandon's almost pathological desire for openness is sandwiched in her explanation of what has drawn her to every role she's taken, from the ageing baseball groupie in Bull Durham to the single waitress who fiercely protects her best friend in Thelma and Louise, and Sister Helen Prejean, the nun who provides spiritual comfort to a murderer and rapist in Dead Man Walking.
''I see everything that I do as some kind of love story,'' says Sarandon, who fluked into acting because she tagged along with her first husband to an audition in 1968.
''You know, people taking the chance to be intimate with each other, whether or not it's a kid and a woman, two women, or whatever the stories are. I feel that's one of the bravest things you can do; to decide to really be intimate with another human being.''
In her latest film, Arbitrage, Sarandon plays Ellen Miller, the wife of a hedge fund manager ( Richard Gere) who plays fast and loose with legal and ethical boundaries. Arguably, her character's bravery doesn't pay off. When she asks her husband to take time off from work (and his affairs), not only does he reject her but his response could burn their family down to the ground.
It would be easy to judge Ellen harshly - she has seemingly traded her silence about his affairs for the cushy life he provides - but Sarandon is a firm believer that life is pointless if you don't take risks. ''Playing it safe doesn't do anything except probably stagnate you and ensure an early death.
''So, really, there's no guarantee. I think you just have to try and stay in the present, learn from the past, but don't stay there.''
Sarandon has learnt this the hard way.
Three years ago her relationship with her partner of 23 years, actor Tim Robbins (also the father of her sons Miles, 20, and Jack, 23) ended. At the time she said the breakdown of their union - which she had, for years, spoken of as something of a Hollywood miracle - made her ''feel like a failure''.
But her voice betrays no sadness or anger when she speaks of him.
''When Tim and I were together, it was incredibly productive,'' she says, noting they both landed great roles during their partnership.
Many of Sarandon's came because she tackled roles others warned her not to take. The legendary film director John Cassavetes, for instance, once told her not to play mothers because they would desensualise her and kill her career.
She ignored him and went on to create some of the most memorable matriarchs on film, including Michaela Odone - a woman whose search for a cure for her son's rare disease threatens her marriage in Lorenzo's Oil (which earned her an Academy Award nomination) - and Mimi Slocumb, the catastrophically self-absorbed New York blue-blood in Igby Goes Down.
She also came up against countless obstacles while trying to develop Dead Man Walking, which later earned her a best actress Oscar. ''When we were trying to get the money for it, everyone was saying, 'First of all, it's ridiculous; they either have to have a love affair … and nothing with dead in the title makes money'.''
At 65, she is still taking oddball risks, which is arguably why she is still enjoying a vibrant career while peers such as Goldie Hawn and Jane Fonda have been relegated to cardboard roles playing cliched stepmothers.
Among Sarandon's 12 films either in production or slated for release in the next two years are the sci-fi drama Cloud Atlas (in which she plays an Indian man and a heavily tattooed clairvoyant, among other roles), the conspiracy thriller The Company You Keep (in which she is a member of the Weather Underground) and Robot & Frank (about a former thief who uses a robot to commit crimes). She has also stirred up a frenzy of gossip because her boyfriend is Jonathan Bricklin, her 34-year-old business partner in a chain of high-end ping-pong clubs.
How will it all turn out?
It's anybody's guess. But as she teaches her children - she also has a daughter, Eva, from a relationship with the Italian filmmaker Franco Amurri - ''making the biggest mistakes they possibly can, that's how you find your voice and direction. If you're trying to do everything right, you're not interesting.''
Ego is a dirty word
What does Susan Sarandon have that other mortals don't? For one thing, the courage to tackle humiliation head-on.
''I just decided that if I was feeling humiliated, that was my own ego,'' says Sarandon, who adds that being the oldest of nine children has made her ''practical'' in her outlook. The actor recalls giving herself this talk when she decided to fly from Rome, where she was living in 1987, to Los Angeles, at her own expense, to audition for the role of Annie in Bull Durham, even though she wasn't on the director's list (which included Meryl Streep).
''It was worth trying to talk myself out of humiliation, audition, and do what needed to be done, to see if it would work out, because it was such a well-drawn character,'' Sarandon says. ''So I think that humiliation usually happens because we set up the rules to be humiliated.
''Since I learnt my lesson about that - not that I have never felt humiliated since, you know, maybe not in the business, maybe other times I've felt bad about myself - I really think, 'It's all about your fake, false ego and it's worth examining when you go through those phases.'''
Arbitrage is out on Thursday.