Sandra Bullock On Her Most Revolutionary Role Yet

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1Photo: REX USA/Erik Pendzich
We have to admit it. Sometimes, we think of Sandra Bullock as our own personal BFF. It's not that we're delusional, but the actress is just so dang friendly. How could you not feel like you have a special connection with her? Even though she's been a mainstay in Hollywood for the past 25 years, she's still as down-to-earth as the day she came on the scene. We — along with the rest of America — are constantly rooting for the star, especially when she takes on Oscar-worthy roles. In the Alfonso Cuarón-directed film Gravity, out today, she co-stars with the George Clooney to play a pair of astronauts who struggle to survive in space. R29 was lucky enough to chat with Bullock about the making of the movie.

What went through your mind when you were offered this role?
“I was always longing to do, emotionally and physically, what my male counterparts always got to do. I just felt envious, every time I saw a movie that I was in awe of, and it was usually a male lead. So in the last couple of years, whether it was by us searching for something and turning it into a female character, or developing it yourself, you weren’t seeing it. But, in the last couple of years, things have shifted.”

And, the part was written specifically for a woman...
"I don’t want to say that’s revolutionary, but it’s revolutionary. And, the fact that a studio, on blind faith, would fund something as unknown as this, is revolutionary. So, to be able to be the person to do it is beyond humbling. It makes you realize, 'I have to step up and be the best version of myself, so that whatever is asked of me, I can produce.'”

What did you have to do in terms of training to prepare for this role?
“Basically, you had to retrain your body, from the neck down, to react and move as though it’s in Zero G. Everything your body reacts to, with a push or a pull, and on the ground, is completely different than it is in Zero G. So, to make that second nature just took training, and then weeks of repetition. You had to separate that from your head and connect to the emotion, and tell the emotional story.”

What was your reaction when you first saw the finished film?
“The first time I saw it all put together was in Venice [at the Film Festival]. When you’re an actor, seeing yourself for the first time, you spend all your time just watching yourself and hating yourself and picking your performance apart. You say, 'I look horrible. I should quit.' But, there was no time to pick apart one’s performance because you were inundated with the extreme beauty and emotion that Alfonso created, visually. I think George and I both went, 'Wow!'"

What did you learn about yourself?
“I can’t selfishly take journeys anymore, because I have to take a little boy along with me. So, I said, 'Make it an amazing experience for him and make it so I’m not somewhere, not paying attention because I’m so worried about where he is, if he’s having fun, and if this is a good life experience.' And [producer] David [Heyman] turned a soundstage in rainy London into a wonderland for a one-and-a-half year old. Everything was bumper-guarded.”

How did talking with the team at NASA help you with your performance?
“We had one phone conversation with [Dr. Catherine Coleman], who was at the [International Space Station] at the time. Apparently, they’re not allowed to just accept calls whenever you feel like calling the ISS. What I did learn from them, which was so beautiful, is their emotional point of view on life: Why they go up there; why they specialize in something on earth; and why they want to go into space to see how it operates, so that we all benefit from it when they get back.”