This weekend, Sandra Bullock will be stepping into the world of films that are “based on a true story,” with her latest work, The Blind Side. The Rookie director John Lee Hancock takes on the book of the same name about an impoverished kid, who found personal and professional success through the compassion of a well off suburban family.
Bullock stars as Leigh Anne Tuohy, a woman who makes her own rules and expects everyone else to play by them. Through the film, the actress wears expensive clothes, gaudy jewelry, and sports a bright blond dye job from root to tip. We spoke to Bullock about the pressure of playing a real person as opposed to a fictional character, what she looks for in a movie role, and why she’s decided to take it slow at this point in her career.
Check out our interview below…
Earlier this year you had a huge hit with The Proposal, these days what do you look for in a movie for a role?
Proposal, um aside from all the right people and right elements I think nudity had a great deal to do with that [laughs]. Had I known that, I would have done it a long time ago. In picking roles, my way of choosing is vastly different now than it was a long time ago, but I can only be that way because of what I learned from the past. I’m choosing now, not to choose any work because when you’ve had such a nice ride, unexpected ride, fulfilling ride you really don’t want to take a step backwards. So, it’s really made me satisfied in a way that I wasn’t really looking for, but I was blessed with it and now I feel really full in a good way where I don’t need to rush out and go find something. I don’t want to.
When did the selection process change for you?
Well, the fact that I’m staring at a stack of scripts and I can’t bear to open them. I don’t want to step into that world right now. I want to enjoy where I am. I think it was over time just having good life experiences, that I was actually cognisant of my work and was very satisfied with it and I just want to enjoy the ride instead of blasting forward and trying to fill a void that doesn’t exist in the workplace.
How did you prepare to play someone who is a real person but isn’t famous?
That’s a tough one because I do think I tried to get as close – I mean you don’t meet an energy like Leigh Anne’s ever. She might not be famous here, but she’s known in other places and I think I felt a great sense of fear in trying to tackle that person she is, but also a great sense of obligation to be true to this wonderful dynamic, because John [Lee Hancock] couldn’t explain Leigh Anne to save his life. When I met Leigh Anne I said ‘Now I know why you can’t because she’s original.’ But there’s such a dynamic that exists between those people and their children that you wanted to pay homage to them. I wanted to as closely as I could so I did my best.
What was it about the character of Leigh Anne that appealed to you as an actress, before you actually met her?
Initially, when I was approached with the film it was a beautifully written story, you could see it play out. I didn’t know how to play Leigh Anne. I didn’t know how to approach it, or what I could bring to it so I just kept saying ‘No this is not going to work for me.’ John said in one of our meetings ‘why don’t you come meet Leigh Anne.’ I met Leigh Anne for the whole day and I left there completely exhausted because of the energy she had, but in love with this human being.
Earlier you spoke about slowing down your acting career, but what about your role as a producer?
To me, the producing falls into the same category as acting, it requires so much time out of your life and I take it very personally I realize. So if I do something, it just has to be something I love and I don’t want anybody else to do. When I open projects maybe something will appeal to me, I think I’m not opening them because I don’t want anything to appeal to me right now. I’m so happy where I’m at right now.
What was it about the story that really resonated with you the most?
First of all, it was a beautifully executed book especially for someone who’s been around football players her whole life and still knew nothing or cared anything about the game. I was in such awe of what it takes to be an athlete, and what the coaches contribute to these children’s lives and how they support and push and inspire. I had a real sense of jealousy that they got to experience that and I never did as an athlete or someone who was able to be brought to that point. But even though I didn’t think I could make this movie, the inspiring part is here’s this family that does this, didn’t do it because someone was writing an article, or a book, or making a movie. They did it because that’s where the instinct said this is what we’re going to do.
Do you think that’s a testament to the human spirit and how much good we can do?
We don’t trust anyone who does anything nice, that’s just the sad world we live in, but they didn’t care. They kept going and it makes you feel like you need to step up your game. Whatever wonderful actress was going to play Leigh Anne Tuohy it was going to be an inspirational story, a true life story that we’re capable of so much more than we think we are because we don’t really live in a world that supports the good that we can do. They all want us to do something bad so it sells some papers or a news report.
After playing this character, did it change your view on certain things?
One of my biggest questions was how people use their faith and their religion as a banner and then they don’t do the right thing, and then they go ‘I’m a good Christian and I go to church and this is the way you should live your life’ and I told Leigh Anne and I said it in a live interview we had I said, one of largest concerns at the end of this was that whole banner holding. I said, it scared me because I’ve had experiences that haven’t been great, I don’t buy a lot of people who use that as their shield, and she was open and honest and forthright and I said wow I’ve finally met someone who practices but doesn’t preach.
So meeting Leigh Anne has had a positive impact on your life personally?
We’re so quick to tell people how to live their lives and I’m so lucky that I’ve been able to stay on my path even though I’ve deviated some times but I’ve never felt like I was OK by it, 100%, it didn’t really matter but then you meet someone who blazes trails and they do it as a family and you feel validated for taking your trip rather than someone elses. She has no idea the path she’s begun in terms of adoption and fostering, it’s not been on the forefront of people’s minds. It is on the forefront of my mind everyday now when I get up. When I look around I go is he, is she, what is their situation? It’s because of this family and I think what their going to do for our country in terms of being aware of that, I don’t think they realize the profound effect that their going to have.
Can we talk about the fashion in this film? Were any of the clothes and jewelry exaggerated?
Hello! Everything I wore was what Leigh Anne wears. Every designer label was what Leigh Anne wears, every make up from her palette, her watch was her watch, her nightgown was her nightgown. I remember sending an email going John you gotta email Leigh Anne and ask her what nightgown she wears and John was like ‘eh’ because he knew what the reply was going to be, so all he gets back from Leigh Anne is [in Southern accent] ‘Ya”ll need to get a life’ [laughs].
The Blind Side debuts in theaters on November 20, 2009.