Old School Americana & Nostalgia


Susan Sarandon Reflects on ‘Very, Very Tough’ Filming of ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show’

Susan Sarandon Reflects on ‘Very, Very Tough’ Filming of ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show’

Susan Sarandon once shared that the Rocky Horror Picture Show production was filled with more than just fictional horrors. 

The 1975 film remains one of the most legendary cult classics ever to hit the Silver Screen. But the success didn’t come immediately. The movie was considered a critical and financial bomb when it first debuted, which was a tough pill to swallow for the cast and crew since they risked life and limb to bring it to life. 

According to Sarandon, who played Janet Weiss, the on-set conditions were brutal. Scenes were filmed in two England locations, which included an estate named Oakley Court and Bray Studios. Neither spot had heating, and the estate didn’t have a roof. Production took place in the fall. So the nighttime temperatures were freezing, and the actors were scantily clad in their signature costumes. 

“It was actually snowing and raining in the house and for some reason, there was no heat in the studio,” Sarandon told Yahoo in 2014. “So I had pneumonia, because I was obviously hardly dressed through a lot of it, and damp.”

The actress developed walking pneumonia, and her doctor didn’t want her working. But she soldiered through. The producers begrudgingly helped her stay healthy between takes, but their efforts literally “went up in flames.” 

“And what they could do was either put me in a hot bath or warm me up between each [scene]. They thought, ‘Here’s the American diva.’ They weren’t very happy to hear any of that,” she recalled. “And so what they did do was they created a screen that they put space heaters in so there was one warm place to go. And everybody went in there, and then it went up in flames, and that was the end of that.”

‘Rocky Horror Picture Show’ Was a Sleeper Hit 

Speaking to Vanity Fair in 2022, Sarandon further explained that her trailer also caught fire. So for the majority of filming, she had to keep moving, and her agents wouldn’t help remedy the situation. 

After the miserable filming experience, the movie made its grand debut in 1975—and failed. Fortunately, the project more than rebounded the following year. 

During its initial release, Rocky Horror Picture Show played a late-night screening at an LA theater. That show was a hit. But for some reason, traditional showings barely sold tickets. A Fox distribution executive named Tim Deegan realized that the studio wasn’t pushing the movie to the right crowd. So he began the midnight events that are still famous today. The New York Post reports that Box Office Mojo has the movie ranked at 76th place among all films today.