Tim Robbins Biography

Actor, Film Actor (1958–)
Tim Robbins is an Academy Award-winning actor as well as an accomplished film director, writer and activist. He had a 23-year relationship with actress Susan Sarandon.


Tim Robbins was born on October 16, 1958, in West Covina, California. The son of a folk singer, he grew up in New York City's Greenwich Village. His breakout film role was in Bull Durham (1988), and he gave a notable performance for director Robert Altman in The Player and Shortcuts. Robbins was nominated for an Academy Award for his direction of Dead Man Walking and won an Oscar for best supporting actor for his role in Mystic River. Robbins had a 23-year relationship with actress Susan Sarandon, which ended in 2009. They have two children.

Breakthrough Role

Actor, director, producer, writer, activist. Born Timothy Francis Robbins on October 16, 1958, in West Covina, California. An Academy Award-winning actor, Tim Robbins is just as well known for his activism as he is for his dramatic talents. The son of folk singer Gil Robbins, he grew up in New York City’s famous bohemian neighborhood, Greenwich Village. He began acting as a teenager with the Theatre for the New City.

After graduating from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1981, Robbins helped found the theater group known as The Actor’s Gang. After a number of small roles, he first caught the public’s attention as a likeable, oafish baseball player in Bull Durham (1988) with Kevin Costner and Susan Sarandon. Robbins and Sarandon became romantically involved and were one of Hollywood's enduring couples before their split in 2009 after 23 years together.

Career Highlights

He went on to portray a diverse mix of lead characters, showing his great range as a performer. In Jacob’s Ladder (1990), he played a Vietnam War veteran having difficulty separating reality from delusion. Working with director Robert Altman, Robbins shined as the sharp, but shady movie executive in The Player (1992) and as an unfaithful, power-abusing cop in Short Cuts (1993). Around this time, Robbins also made the political mock documentary Bob Roberts (1992), which he wrote, directed, and starred in.

In 1995, Robbins stepped completely behind the camera for the critically acclaimed death penalty drama Dead Man Walking starring Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn. He received an Academy Award nomination for his directorial efforts, and his then partner Sarandon won her Academy Award for Best Actress for her portrayal of Sister Helen Prejean, a nun who counsels a convicted killer waiting on death row.


Throughout his career, Robbins has been outspoken on many issues and has used his celebrity to bring attention to specific causes. Serving as presenters at 1993 Academy Awards, he and Sarandon took some of their time on camera to highlight the plight of HIV-positive Haitian refugees who were being detained by the U.S. government. While their efforts were successful in securing the refugees’ release, the couple received harsh criticism for their actions from the media and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. They were banned from the next year’s ceremonies.

Later Roles

Robbins received recognition from the academy for his artistic talents in 2003. He received the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as an abuse victim haunted by the past and murder suspect named Dave Doyle in Mystic River (2003), directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Sean Penn and Kevin Bacon.

More recently, Robbins has appeared in the independent drama The Secret Life of Words (2005), the family friendly fantasy Zathura: A Space Adventure (2005), and War of the Worlds (2005). He also lent his voice to the animated political satire about the Iraqi War, Embedded (2005). He also serves as the artistic director of The Actor’s Gang theater company in Los Angeles.

Robbins has two children with Sarandon together - sons Miles and Henry.

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