The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



Tim Robbins Presents “1984” to ND

Declan Drumm Sullivan | Tuesday, January 20, 2009

One of the most respected Hollywood actors both on and off the screen, Tim Robbins is at times almost as well known for his roles in political campaigns as he is for his roles in film. Born in 1958, Robbins was raised in Greenwich Village while his father – a member of the mildly successful folk music group The Highwaymen – pursued a musical career. He went to film school at UCLA, and after he graduated in 1981, he formed the experimental theatre group, the Actors’ Gang.After taking several bit roles in films, Robbins came to prominence in 1988 with his supporting role in the classic baseball flick “Bull Durham” as Ebby Calvin “Nuke” LaLoosh, the rookie pitcher with a blazing fastball. He achieved critical acclaim for the 1994 film “Shawshank Redemption,” in which he played framed-con Andy Dufresne, and 1995’s “Dead Man Walking,” which he directed. He has played a variety of roles since, ranging from comedies with fellow Actors’ Gang members – “High Fidelity” with John Cusack in 2000 and “Tenacious D and the Pick of Destiny” with Kyle Gass and Jack Black in 2006 – to his Academy Award-winning performance in 2003’s “Mystic River.”He remains active in Hollywood today with a role in the sequel to 2008’s “Iron Man” as Howard Stark, Tony Stark’s father.Off-screen, he is known for his leftist political views, characterized by his frequent criticisms of former President George W. Bush and his support of Ralph Nader and John Edwards in the 2000 and 2008 elections, respectively. He is an excellent orator, and often gives speeches for causes and political ideologies that he supports. Despite his liberal beliefs, however, he still believes in bipartisanship, maintaining friendships with prominent Republicans and Libertarians such as Clint Eastwood and the late Jack Valenti.Although Robbins has found success with his film career, he still has a passion for acting. He is currently the Artistic Director of the Actors’ Gang, the theatre group he formed more than twenty-five years ago. Robbins’ work as a playwright has been produced in London, Paris, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Edinburgh, Scotland. His latest play, “Embedded,” has been in production in Paris, Chicago and Tampa Bay, Fla. He is currently working on “1984,” a stage adaptation of the classic George Orwell novel that he directs.Robbins and the Actors’ Gang are bringing this production to Notre Dame this week. In what Robbins calls a “very visceral, real experience for the audience,” “1984” is a biting commentary on the world today. Robbins is a heavy advocate for free speech, and says that his production does much to emphasize the importance of this right we so often take for granted. “Freedom of speech is like a muscle – if you don’t use it, it atrophies. So, if you’re in a situation where you can say something about what you care about, to not say it is more harmful than to say it,” he said.The day before the start of this production, Robbins will be giving a lecture at the Leighton Concert Hall on his career, the “1984” production, and his views of the current state of democracy. For only five dollars, this is an excellent chance to listen to one of the most respected actors in Hollywood. The lecture is at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, and the play is on Thursday and Friday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at both 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.