Tim Robbins is back in the slammer — to teach hardened criminals the art of acting!
The Oscar-winning actor is best remembered as the brutalized and desperate-to-escape con, Andy Dufresne, in the iconic prison movie “The Shawshank Redemption.”
In real life, Tim was thrilled to return to prison, teaching theater workshops in medium-security facilities in California.
“It creates this place … in prison, where people can step outside of what’s expected of them and try to explore new emotions, create new realities and create new truths for themselves,” Tim said.
He and his theater company, The Actors’ Gang — which has counted Jack Black, John Cusack and Helen Hunt among its members — have held weekly, four-hour sessions with a dozen or more inmates for the last nine years.
“This program allows for the possibility of different choices in life,” he said.
So far Tim and his team have worked with 500 or so inmates, and he said he’s only aware of two who have returned to prison after their release — minuscule compared to the 54 percent of inmates in California who return to prisons within three years of release.
The actor said even he was surprised at how open and committed the hardened criminals have been.
“They’re actually putting on makeup and putting on costumes!” he explained.
The cons themselves have been equally astonished with their ability to get into the act!
“I never thought I’d be happy to tell another man I put makeup on!” one inmate beamed.
Tim, 57, added the program isn’t so much about discovering the next jailhouse Robert De Niro as it is to give the inmates the personal tools they need to stay out of jail.
“There are enough unemployed actors already,” he joked.