Sandra Bullock and director Alfonso Cuaron visited Comic-Con 2013 to promote their suspense thriller Gravity. Bullock and George Clooney (who did not make an SDCC appearance) star as astronauts who are set adrift after debris crashes into their space shuttle leaving them in a perilous fight for survival.
Alfonso Cuaron on the challenges of creating a universe not so far in the future:
Alfonso Cuaron: The goal was for the film to feel like one of those IMAX documentaries, like a Discovery Channel documentary that went absolutely wrong. We used current technology. We didn’t invent anything. If anything, we didn’t invent it but we went ahead of time, is that we have the Chinese space station. Right now it’s just one module. So that’s the only thing we changed. Not only that but we wanted to be retro. We have the space shuttle and we decided to keep the NASA astronaut suits instead of the current one, because there’s a new generation that’s going to come very soon. If we go through the next generation, it was going to look like fantasy science-fiction, because it’s not in the consciousness of people yet. So that’s why we decided to go a little retro there. We went through pains to honor reality as much as we could. In terms of the sign of what you see and pretty much what it is up there … it’s a work of fiction. So we don’t pretend to say that everything is perfect, so in frame of the picture we like to be as accurate as possible to reality.
Sandra Bullock on delving into the material of Gravity:
Sandra Bullock: I had to be very true to what someone was dealing with who would be in my character’s position, which is factual today. I wanted to be really accurate, so we have a lot of incredible specialists who answered that. There’s always people on call. There were several times I was able to call up to space and ask some questions. They were very helpful. Just from what I had to do, it had to be very human in this technologically advanced space that felt very futuristic of me because it has ever been done on film. So I had the benefit of both.
Cuaron on why Gravity was converted into 3D:
Alfonso Cuaron: It didn’t make any sense, because of the technology that we used, it was practically impossible. We wanted to shoot with 3D, with the cameras, and we did tests. First of all, it was impossible because of the technology. We used these robots. These robots that they use for camera manufacturing, we adapted some of those cameras, instead of using motion control. But the weight of those cameras in those rooms were not possible in those robots. In one instance, Sandra was on a rig inside a cube that is nine by nine that the camera just had a limited view of Sandra… I would have to go through holes in that cube. If it’s a wide shot, it would start wide and go very closely. It was impossible because, as you know, with 3D cameras, you need two cameras so you need more space… What we would end up doing is doing a conversion. Pretty much the conversion would be in 3D three and a half years ago. To go through things to make sure it would be the closest thing to go to do native 3D. I was with [James Cameron] last weekend and he was saying look, this is the perfect example how a film can’t be converted. Now he’s talking about now the way that technology goes. It’s not about taking our choice of going native or I’m going to convert, but like with any other tool, you choose your moments.
Sandra Bullock: I haven’t even seen the completed film but what I hope people come out of this feeling is having been taken completely out of their bodies. By the time the end of the film happens, wanting to go out and doing something amazing with their life if they’re not already doing it. What have you wasted up to this point? What have you not experienced? what have you not savored? Stop holding your breath and worrying about everything. There are so many beautiful story lines in this film but you come out of it feeling, hopefully, that you’re given one more chance to be born again, to do what you’re going to do in this lifetime. That having been at the end of this horrific, beautiful, frightening experience that Alfonso gives you on the way there.
Bullock on her relationship with Clooney throughout the years:
Sandra Bullock: We’ve known each other long before, we’ve been part of a close group of friends, so I’ve known George before the world knew handsome George. The same person he was then was the exact same person he is now, a man who loves film, a man who loves being part of the group and working and supporting. He’s the ultimate team worker. You never know you’re dealing with someone who’s had the level of success he’s had, because all he cares about is being at the table at the beginning of a film, reading the script, what lines are great, how can I help. He’s just the same person I knew all those years ago when our hair was dark and curly. It’s just more of the same guy that I’ve known. You’re always grateful when you’re working with George because he wants everyone else to look better. He always wants everyone else to have their moment. It’s not always the narcissistic actor/director/writer/producer who’s like ‘I need to make myself as good as possible.’ He’s always looking out for everyone.
Alfonso Cuaron: That’s so true because part of his concern is here because there was a point in which there were so many scenes with Sandra alone, he was so concerned with making sure that… I mean he could have just gone on, done this job and left. George noticed that Sandy and I were struggling with a couple of scenes. We were all the time discussing the scenes and doing rewrites in terms of the dialogue and how to best convey the emotions that we wanted to convey. Suddenly, out of the blue, he offered to help. Actually, one of the scenes, one of my favorite scenes, he rewrote. It was just out of the blue. It was like hey, look, for what it’s worth, here are these. Delete it or use it, and it was great.
Bullock on finally working with Cuaron and admiring his vision:
Sandra Bullock: You know, it’s the great unknown. You’ve read this script and you always read into it, your experience in life. It was pretty profound, but it was still the great unknown. How do you do this? But the fact that it came from Alfonso, who is someone that for many, many years I have just… the joke always with me was that no matter what film I was doing, I was thinking ‘Let’s ask Alfonso Cuaron to direct it,’ even though we knew that was never going to happen. But to admire someone so much and to have this project which you couldn’t explain, had never been done before, had this possible outcome of this beautiful message intertwined with extreme thrills and action and the technology that’s never been done before, it’s just like life. Sometimes I don’t know what this is, but the person who’s helming it is the person who’s worth blindly stepping into this vortex with. That’s what it was. I had such faith in what he’d already done, and meeting him as a person, and us having similar views and paths in life. I feel like we were trying to figure out so many things in our own lives and it just worked out that way. It was always a conversation that was okay to have.
Gravity opens in theaters October 4.