We recently hit up the press conference for the upcoming film, All About Steve, with comedians: Bradley Cooper, Sandra Bullock, and Thomas Haden Church. Bullock, who also produced the film, talked about creating the quirky, cruciverbalist (it’s a real word, look it up) character Mary Horowitz, her desire to maintain her childhood lisp, and her participation in a rom-com after she allegedly retired from the genre. Bradley and Thomas added a few deadpan interjections between her long winded answers…
Check out some of the highlights from the press conference below…
The character of Mary Horowitz has a strikingly ridiculous image. Did you have any input?
Sandra Bullock: It’s an amalgamation of our writer, Kimberly Barker, a three and a half little girl that I spent a lot of time with. We tried things on, it didn’t work – but oddly, that worked! The red boots, like $14.95 off shoe.com…genius. I had an idea of what her vibe looked like, but that’s how it came together.
How were all three of you able to relate to this odd group of characters?
Sandra Bullock: It’s that part of us that we’re told to lose once we become an adult. That freedom of expression, the freedom joy, and excitement, and innocence. I had a lisp that I had to get rid of – I went to speech therapy. Why? Why did I need to get rid of the lisp? It’s the whole ‘what is normal?’ And why can’t we embrace adults like her? We’re very excited to embrace children like that…but we don’t trust adults who are naïve and kind and happy. We want them jaded and cynical and street-wise. Why is that?
Bradley Cooper: I shadowed an NBC camera-man, and I picked up a lot tid bits, the terms that they used…
Thomas Haden Church: I learned Spanish. It had very little to do with the movie. It was just one of those things…I always wanted to speak Spanish.
Was it hard to memorize all of the extensive trivia and random bits of information that Mary erupts with at all given moments?
Sandra Bullock: No, my head is filled with so much crap. Our writer Kim Barker, her train of thought is so brilliant. All of the knowledge that I have - doesn’t necessarily make me brilliant – but I love acquiring knowledge, and then sharing it with everybody else. I love trivia and I get very excited about it, just like Mary Horowitz.
When you have a full page of dialogue that has a thought process to it, it’s a lot easier to memorize than if you’re in a scene and other people are talking, and you have maybe one word or one sentence and you have to interject. The one page monologue is far easier to memorize. And Kim’s writing…we’re frenetically the same with the way we spew out information. I mean you hear me now, that’s subdued, for what I’m really like when I want to get information across. It’s like the firing of pistons. I have to explain everything and get it out of my head. So that rhythm, I felt very comfortable with. She just wrote in a rhythm that made sense to me.
It appears as though Mary found peace with her “flaws” by the end of the film, can you relate to that at all?
Sandra Bullock: Well I made peace with the fact that we think we have all these flaws. SHE didn’t think she was flawed – society made her feel flawed, and made her question how she lived her life. She questioned it, and went down this path and made everything all about Steve. Thinking I must go on this path because that’s what society says, and she realized it wasn’t right for her – but she met others like her that validated that they aren’t flaws, they are unique traits that make special human beings. I always make this reference, why is it that young boys and men are unique and eccentric and mavericks when they’re different, but women are odd? What would I wish someone would’ve said to me at 12 when I had my speech impediment? Don’t change, be who you are. Society is really strong in their opinions so I made peace with the fact that things that I thought were weaknesses or flaws were just ME – and I like them.
Were there any unexpected on-set occurrences?
Sandra Bullock: Ken Jeong getting naked. Which now he’ll end up doing every film he’s in.
It was a hard shoot because it was 112 degrees and we had to accomplish a lot, and our director was very ambitious…all of us come from a different comedic style. I was surprised at how well it worked, if we wanted to improvise…and how well these 3 got a long. It was a little scary. I was surprised at how effortless it was when they were together.
The film definitely acknowledges the media-frenzy nature of our society, did that relevance impact your decision to be a part of the project?
Thomas Haden Church: I wanted to work with Sandy. That was about it. The story, as you just so articulately stated, it kind of exposes the manufacturing of drama in the media. Now it’s over taking prime time television in terms of this entertainment fascination factor. The movie now is coming out with all of the hype surrounding the national health plan… and every single news item becomes a shark frenzy.
To women it seems like Mary’s character was determined. The male perspective might pin her as a stalker…
Sandra Bullock: It depends on what side you’re looking at it from. It’s not like ‘he said, she said’, it’s that she heard, ‘society says you’re not living a normal life’ and at the same time this guy says ‘I wish you could be with me, but you have a job’ – she doesn’t think twice about this until she loses her job, and she thinks it’s the universe saying, okay, you need to go in this direction. He should’ve just told her to get out of the car.
And in the end both sides meet, he’s like “I’m sorry don’t change.” In her quiet way she knows she’s an idiot and went down the wrong path. There’s the meeting of the minds and they both go on their way and admit their shortcomings. They take away something. I didn’t want her to change. I wanted her to continue being who she was.
Sandra, you were recently quoted saying that you wouldn’t do romantic comedies anymore. Would you consider this a romantic comedy?
Sandra Bullock: This is not a romantic comedy. Why should it be? It’s just as loving and funny and unique without her ending up with the guy. And that’s the reason I made the film: why does Mary Horowitz have to end up with the guy to be a complete woman? Why can’t we women have a diverse selection of comedies to play in and be actors in and make people laugh with? Why do we have to end up being the woman who THAKFULLY gets the guy? I made it for the very reason that you asked the question. If I can do anything in this time of my career, it’s to make it easier for other actresses and girls to say I get to be a part of a comedy or action film or romantic comedy without having to wind up with someone to complete us. I complete me. I just got lucky that after I completed myself I met someone who could tolerate me.
You tell um Sandy! Be proud of being weird!
Check out the gang in theaters this Friday, September 4th nationwide!