Susan Sarandon knows how to find good help — but she didn't learn the tricks until too late. "By the time I finally realized how to spot a good nanny, I didn't need them anymore," the actress said January 30 at a star-studded screening of her new HBO film, Bernard and Doris, in which she plays heiress Doris Duke (Ralph Fiennes stars opposite as her controversial flamboyant butler and caretaker). Her au pair advice? "Don't pick someone you want to hang out with," she said. "Pick someone that has a way with kids." And make sure they can deal with boundaries, especially in a busy world where staff can seem like part of the family. "Some people can adjust to that, others just completely lose their discipline." Finally, pick the right person for the right phase in your kid's life, like when Sarandon and Tim Robbins were raising two young sons Jack and Miles and she hired "a young gal with a lot of energy, as opposed to somebody very sedentary." With the kids getting older, the Oscar winner has less help — a housekeeper, but no publicist, assistant, chef, or chauffeur. "My kids are on their feet, taking the train," she said. "If they're privileged, they don't think it's the norm." —Justin Ravitz
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