“I’m always worrying whether I’m doing a good job and that I’m doing things right. I guess those are normal concerns for moms and I want to be the best mom possible.”
By Jan Janssen / The Interview Feed
Building off the success of her female buddy comedy, The Heat, Sandra Bullock bit the big screen again with arguably one of the most serious and demanding films of her career. Gravity, directed by Alfonso Cuaron, co-stars Bullock opposite George Clooney as astronauts stranded in space after their shuttle is struck and virtually destroyed after being struck by debris. As the only two visible actors in the film, Gravity becomes the vehicle for an exploration of the imagination as Bullock’s and Clooney’s characters drift in orbit communicating with each other via built-in helmet microphones.
“I was basically locked in this strangely lit cube the entire day while we were shooting the film,” Bullock, 50, explains. “I didn’t really understand the totality of what was going to be involved in the shooting process before we started. I had little bits of pieces in terms of the wire work and green screen. But Alfonso was experimenting with different technologies to achieve the weightlessness and the strangeness of what our characters were experiencing.”
Bullock was born in Virginia, the daughter of a German opera singer mother and a voice-coach father, and she spent her early years touring with her mother in Europe while growing up in Nuremburg, Germany. When she was 12, her parents relocated to Washington, DC, where she went to high school before she left home to study drama at East Carolina University in North Carolina. Bullock later moved to New York where she studied acting under the legendary Sanford Meisner.
While films like Speed, Practical Magic, Two Weeks’ Notice, Miss Congeniality and The Proposal saw her become one of Hollywood’s most popular actresses, best known for her comedic talents, it wasn’t until she earned an Oscar for her work in The Blind Side in 2010 that she finally achieved serious recognition.
In 2010, Bullock revealed that she had adopted a 3 month old baby boy. She is currently single and lives with her 3-year-old son Louis, dividing her time between homes in Los Angeles and Austin, Texas.
Question (Q): Sandra, what kind of challenge is it working while being suspended in air and isolated in a cube while pretending to be stranded in space?
Sandra Bullock (SB): We used different kinds of technologies to create the weightless effect, and I wound up developing very good abs because of it. (Smiles) The strangest part was speaking to George via microphone and not seeing him. We didn’t spend a lot of time working together, and I would mostly just hear his voice or the director’s.
Q: What is your interpretation of the movie?
SB: I don’t know how to properly explain this film because it’s a world that’s never been created before. Being the first person to be part of this uncharted territory and being locked into this kind of isolation, you had to remind yourself that no one has done this before and you wanted to make sure it works.
Q: Was it difficult to work from inside a cube that basically sealed you off from the director and George?
SB: I rarely saw the director’s face. All I had was his voice to go by, and we established this level of trust with each other. But I definitely had to have a gymnastic background where your body had to become a natural robot so that it would fit your lines when we would cut from one scene to the next and your hands had to be in the correct position. So at least some of the odd skills and background I have came in handy for this film and will probably never be needed again.
Q: Does this kind of film leave its mark on you?
SB: I’ve never experienced anything like it. There are no words in my mental dictionary that can describe what this experience was, but once you see it, you’re just going to be like, “Oh my f—ing God.” While shooting the film, we just were trying to get through day-to-day not knowing if the new technology that we were getting ready to execute whatever scene Alfonso had in his head was going to work. So there were physical aspects of it that were much more demanding in terms of, “Am I going to get hurt? Are we going to be able to do it?”
Q: This has been a pretty interesting year for you with the success of Heat, hasn’t it?
SB: I wasn’t interested in working that much, and I was turning a lot of projects down. The only thing I said I was really interested in doing was some kind of female buddy film and that I wanted to work with Melissa McCarthy, and I was hoping that she would want to work with me. A producer friend of mine told me that there weren’t any female buddy scripts out there, and, to be honest, I was perfectly happy being at home and looking after my son. But a friend sent me the script for Heat and I remember laughing the entire time I was reading it. And in the end I was excited to be able to make the film and get to do the things that guys get to do in those kinds of movies.
Q: What’s your life like as a mom?
SB: It’s pretty basic stuff. I get up at dawn, prepare breakfast and lunch, take him to school, maybe work out for an hour or so, and then pick up my son and spend the afternoon with him. We might go to the park, or I might take him to a swim class. Then I’ll make dinner for him, give him a bath, and read him a story for bedtime. It’s a very sexy life! (Smiles) I love being devoted to him.
Q: Is it a very different kind of life for you to be a mother?
SB: Yes, but it’s beautiful that way. I love the fact that my life is no longer about work and I can find so much joy in looking after my boy. I feel much less stressed and wrapped up in my own life now, and I feel I’m enjoying things more.
Q: Do you worry a lot as a mother?
SB: I’m always worrying whether I’m doing a good job and that I’m doing things right. I guess those are normal concerns for moms and I want to be the best mom possible. I just enjoy the fact that Louis is the centre of my universe and I’m devoted to his well-being.
Q: Is this a very special time in your life?
SB: Life is good and there’s not a morning I don’t wake up and really know that, so I’m sure he’s most of the reason that happens. HBM Photo Credits: Reuters 0514