Chris Sarandon (‘64 BFA)
Chris Sarandon, a native of Beckley, W.Va., graduated magna cum laude from West Virginia University in 1964 with a bachelor of fine arts degree in theatre. While a student at WVU, he served as co-coordinator of Homecoming Weekend and of the Leadership Conference and was a member of Helvetia, Fi Batar Kapper, Phi Mu Sinfonia, Mountain and Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity. Upon graduation, Sarandon attended Catholic University of America, one of the country’s leading theatre schools, where he earned a master’s degree in theatre.
Since then, Sarandon has held major on-screen and stage roles, appearing both on and off Broadway. He appeared in “American Perfekt,” an entry in the Cannes Film Festival. He also starred with Dennis Hopper, Peter Coyote and Mariel Hemingway in “Road Ends,” which he also produced.
Sarandon began his career by joining the prestigious Long Wharf Theatre Company for a season in which he appeared in “The Indian Wants the Bronx” and “The Lion in Winter.” He moved to New York City where, after a short stint on the soap opera “The Guiding Light,” he was cast as Jacob Rothschild in the original Broadway production of “The Rothschilds.” Sarandon later replaced Raul Julia in the hit Broadway musical “The Two Gentlemen of Verona” and followed with the role of Marchbanks at the Shaw Festival of Canada in a highly acclaimed production of “Candida.”
In his film debut as AI Pacino’s confused lover in “Dog Day Afternoon,” Sarandon was nominated for an Academy Award as best supporting actor. He followed this role with that of Mariel and Margeaux Hemingway’s disturbed music teacher in “Lipstick,” and then played Thomas Wolfe in the Hallmark Hall of Fame production “You Can’t Go Home Again.” Sarandon appeared at the New York Shakespeare Festival in John Guare’s “Marco Polo Sings a Solo” with Sigorney Weaver, Joel Grey and Madeline Kahn and on Broadway in “Censored Scenes from King Kong.”
Sarandon returned to the screen for “Cuba” with Sean Connery, for Sam Peckinpah’s last film, “The Osterman Weekend” and for Herbert Ross’ “Protocol,” starring Goldie Hawn. Next he appeared at the New York Shakespeare Festival in David Mamet’s “The Woods” and on television in the dual roles of Sidney Carton and Charles Darnay in Hallmark’s “A Tale of Two Cities.” In his next film, he starred as the evil Prince Humperdink in Rob Reiner’s “The Princess Bride.” He also appeared at Stratford, Conn., as Prince Hal in “Henry IV, pt 1” and co-starred with Rex Harrison as Dick Dudgeon in Shaw’s “The Devils Disciple.”
Continuing his film work, Sarandon starred as the suave, sophisticated vampire in the cult classic “Fright Night” and as the anguished policeman chasing the demented come-to-life doll Chucky in “Childsplay.” His other film roles include James Ivory’s “Slaves of New York,” “Flight 007” and “Bordello of Blood.” In addition, he has made guest appearances on several television shows including Picket Fences, The Practice and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
In a different vein, Sarandon was cast by creator Tim Burton and director Henry Sellick to be the speaking voice of the lead character Jack Skellington in the stop-action animation classic, “The Nightmare Before Christmas.”