- Actor, director
- Longtime companion of Susan Sarandon
- Anti-war activist
- Supporter of the Green Party, Ralph Nader, and socialism
- Member of Not in Our Name
- Member of Artists United to Win Without War
One of Hollywood’s most well known actors, Tim Robbins has starred in such critically acclaimed films as The Shawshank Redemption, Mystic River, and Bull Durham. He is also a vocal antiwar activist.
Robbins was born in October 1958 in West Covina, California. When he was a young boy, his parents, actress Mary Bledsoe and folk musician Gilbert Robbins, relocated to New York City in order to become more involved in the anti-Vietnam War movement.
As a student at Stuyvesant High School, Robbins joined the campus drama club. During the summer months, he participated in several street-theater productions by the off-Broadway “Theater for the New City,” known for its radical political plays.
Following his graduation from high school, Robbins attended SUNY Plattsburgh for two years, and then moved to California to study at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. After graduating in 1981, he founded the Actors’ Gang theater group in Los Angeles, an experimental ensemble that used the European avant-garde form of theater to express its radical political ideas.
Robbins began his professional acting career by starring in bit parts in a number of television series in the early 1980s, including Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, St. Elsewhere, and Hill Street Blues. By the late 1980s and early 1990s, he was playing the lead in some of the most popular movies of the day.
In 1992 Robbins directed and starred in the political satire Bob Roberts, the story of a corrupt right-wing folk-singer. In 1995 he directed Dead Man Walking, an capital punishment film starring Sean Penn and Robbins’ longtime companion and fellow activist, Susan Sarandon. (Although the two never wed, Robbins and Sarandon have been a couple since 1988 and have two children -- the first of which, Jack Henry, they named after Jack Henry Abbott, the convicted murderer and self-proclaimed Communist whose infamous 1981 release from prison had been aided by Norman Mailer.)
Robbins and Sarandon are both members of Artists United to Win Without War and Not in Our Name (a "peace" front for C. Clark Kissinger's Revolutionary Communist Party). They also sit on the Advisory Board of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, a tax-exempt “media watchdog” organization.
In 1999 Robbins joined such luminaries as Norman Mailer, Arthur Miller, Rob Reiner, Susan Sarandon, and Susan Sontag in signing a letter criticizing Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s effort to suspend funding for the Brooklyn Museum of Art, after the museum had exhibited the artist Chris Ofili’s depiction of the Virgin Mary covered in elephant dung and surrounded by pornographic images.
In July 2000 Robbins was a signatory to a political advertisement in the New York Times calling for an immediate end to America's economic sanctions against Iraq. The ad charged that the U.S. was responsible for “killing … over one million Iraqis, mostly children under five.” Fellow signers included Ed Asner, Joan Baez, Daniel Berrigan, Philip Berrigan, Noam Chomsky, Ramsey Clark, William Sloane Coffin, Richard Dreyfuss, Mike Farrell, Thomas Gumbleton, Rev. James Lawson, Liam Neeson, Rosie O’Donnell, Susan Sarandon, Pete Seeger, Martin Sheen, and Howard Zinn.
In August 2000, Robbins attended a Drug Policy Reform event at the so-called "Shadow Convention" in Los Angeles -- a convention organized by Arianna Huffington to parallel the Democratic and Republican national conventions which were held that year. Joining Robbins were numerous activists, Progressive Caucus members, and celebrities who condemned existing drug laws as discriminatory and racist. Among these were John Conyers; Michael Eric Dyson; Al Franken; Tom Hayden, Jesse Jackson; Bill Maher; Susan Sarandon; and Maxine Waters.
Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Robbins became an aggressive critic of the Bush administration and the war on terror. At a Not In Our Name-sponsored protest rally in New York on October 6, 2002, Robbins told the crowd:
“Cloaked in patriotism and our doctrine of spreading democracy throughout the world, our fundamentalism is business, the unfettered spread of our economic interests throughout the globe. Our resistance to this war should be our resistance to profit at the cost of human life. Because that is what these drums beating over Iraq are really about.”
At a National Press Club luncheon on April 15, 2003, Robbins said, “it is imperative for those who oppose the notion of the United States as unchecked Empire to speak out strongly against a foreign policy of military intimidation.”
Robbins had been a steadfast supporter of Green Party candidate Ralph Nader in the 2000 presidential election. But after seeing how Nader siphoned votes away from Democrat Al Gore and perhaps cost Gore that election, Robbins in 2004 signed a petition urging voters to back Democrat John Kerry, who stood a reasonably good chance of winning, instead of Nader, who stood no chance. Other signatories included Noam Chomsky, Phil Donahue, Barbara Ehrenreich, Bonnie Raitt, Susan Sarandon, Eddie Vedder, Cornel West, Kevin Zeese, and Howard Zinn.
In 2005 Robbins spoke out against the application of the death penalty to the convicted multiple murderer Stanley “Tookie” Williams. Joining Robbins in requesting a commutation of Williams’ sentence were Snoop Doggy Dogg, Mike Farrell, Jamie Foxx, Danny Glover, Anjelica Huston, Bianca Jagger, Bonnie Raitt, and Susan Sarandon.
Robbins is a signatory to an ongoing petition asking the federal government to grant clemency to Leonard Peltier, an American Indian activist convicted of slaying two FBI Agents on South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in 1975.
Robbins has called George W. Bush and his fellow Republicans “evil incarnate,” blaming them for having led the U.S. into a "war based on lies" in Iraq; for having "recruited more al Qaeda members than Osama bin Laden could ever have dreamed"; for waging "continuous warfare as a means to control the Western economy, and as a way to control rebel elements within society through the use of fear, constant fear"; and for putting people "in jail without telling anyone ... and tortur[ing] them out of suspicion of what we think they might do."
Since May 2005, Robbins has occasionally blogged for The Huffington Post.
Over the years, Robbins has funded the political campaigns of such candidates as Barbara Boxer, Sherrod Brown, John Edwards, Jesse Jackson, Ralph Nader, Barack Obama, and Charles Rangel. He also has made contributions to the MoveOn.org Political Action Committee.