03/20/2012 at 09:00 PM EDT
If you want the truth about aging in Hollywood, ask Susan Sarandon
"It's true there aren't that many good parts," the outspoken actress, 65, says in an interview in the new issue of PEOPLE. "I've had my disappointments. It's hard to be in this business and not be an alcoholic or a drug addict or bitter as an older woman."
But, she adds, "that's one of the things you have to make your peace with – or get out of the business because everyone has those moments. I'm not the only one."
At an age when many actresses are relegated to granny roles, Sarandon mixes it up with such unexpected cameos as a seductive teacher on 30 Rock
and Andy Samberg's mom in Saturday Night Live
's "Motherlover" skit.
In her latest movie Jeff, Who Lives at Home,
she plays an uptight mom dealing with two dysfunctional adult sons (Ed Helms and Jason Segel). Of course, she shows her sensual side, too: "It's really more of an attitude than it is being naked," she says.
Before she even hit 40, Sarandon was informed that her sexy days were over. "I was told by John Cassavetes when I did The Tempest
never to be a mom because I would not be sensual anymore," says the actress. Her reaction? "I think I laughed."
Sarandon went on to have three kids: her actress daughter with Italian film director Franco Amurri, Eva Amurri
, 27, and two sons with her former partner Tim Robbins, Jack, 22, and Miles, 19. And she definitely still has sizzle. "I'm happy to be considered desirable." she says. "I love it!"
Besides, she says, "I think there's a lot of guys who like strong women. Maybe because women have raised sons who have different expectations. I think we can take some credit for that!"
For much more from Sarandon's wide-ranging interview – including what she has to say about her split from Robbins, plastic surgery and the younger man in her life – pick up the new issue on PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday