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The Proposal - Sandra Bullock interview

Sandra Bullock in The Proposal

Interview by Rob Carnevale

SANDRA Bullock talks about getting naked with Ryan Reynolds in The Proposal, working for unscrupulous bosses and why her life has improved so much since getting married.

She also talks about relationships between older women and younger men, and why she’ll forever be grateful to her husband for putting up with her celebrity in spite of the hardship it can bring…

Q. What was more uncomfortable, appearing in the nude or being dumped in the ocean?
Sandra Bullock: Actually, in a very bizarre way doing the dance with grandma outside ended up being much harder than being nude with Ryan. Not for the obvious reasons, him being so very handsome, so well built, so articulate, so talented and all.

Q. So how was being naked?
Sandra Bullock: Well, I don’t look at my body and go: “This is such a machine, a beautiful specimen and I cannot show it in that funny light.” It is funny every day. I look at it every day and there is something funny going on with my body, so I saw that it could be used as a vessel in this film in a good way. I felt that this was this time for me to do full nudity and be used in a way I was comfortable with. I have done those scenes that are supposed to be sexy and they are just not. A full naked body, especially you men, on film full frontal… not that funny or sexy. But you hide a little something between us men and women and it becomes sexy. You dress it more, it’s sexier so the lack of sexiness in this scene made me happy to do it. I mean, yes, it’s humiliating, it’s embarrassing, and people are going to poke fun at your body. But by the third day the crew has seen it all.

Q. Did you hit the gym or are you always in that shape?
Sandra Bullock: I’m always in this shape, that shape, whatever shape you like the most. I am always in various stages of shapes. If the woman needs to be more soft I’ll gain weight and then I’ll lose weight for another film that I did where I wanted her to be more wiry. I enjoy using my body as something that helps me get to a character. But I have an objective so I hire that person the get me there. But I have been athletic for most of my life so it has kind of held together decently. I have my moments of slide and then I go to the gym and pick it back up.

Q. Where did you get inspiration for Margaret Tate?
Sandra Bullock: You know what? I’m a bitch. In real life, I’m a bitch. I’m an actress, I act nice, I come to these press junkets and I play nice because I want you guys to write nice things about me. But seriously, it was written that well and when something is written like that you just bring in little details and characters…

Q. Is your co-star Betty White an inspiration, in terms of how long a career she’s had?
Sandra Bullock: I don’t know if I look at her and say I want to be working at that age but I want to have the life and the outlook and the joy that she does. If I could have half of Betty White’s satsfaction and joy and insight and zest for life at half her age I would be satisfied. She has done something with her life that is pretty extraordinary. Having dealt with some sadness and loss she has turned that into such a passion for what she does now. I just think she is incredible, as a human being, as a story teller, to have dinner with, to hang out with, to work with, to share jokes with, to share your husband with, she is just, yes, she is a man stealer but I am okay with that because I liked her so much.

Q. When did realise you wanted to work with Anne Fletcher?
Sandra Bullock: I was working on a film I was producing and up pulls this lady and walks into the trailer and the moment she stepped into the trailer and the moment we had a few words I was so thankful that people like her exist because you start to lose your faith in humanity when you work in our business for a while. When the first words are, “I know what we can do better and know what needs work…” you know it’s not somebody there to convince you: “Do this film, it is going to be great and it’ll be so much fun.” It’s someone who is there to work and to break down what wasn’t working. She and I had the exact same feelings about it… let what works work. Let’s not concentrate on what doesn’t. So, the minute I met her, I felt we were separated at birth and I found someone who was just as insane and screwed up as I was, but happy. I appreciated her being around.

Q. Have you ever been abused by people in this profession when you were younger?
Sandra Bullock: I did work with some not nice people but I really haven’t had that kind of abuse. I have worked with people and have seen the abuse of power and it’s humiliating to watch someone think they are allowed to treat people like that. You can get done what you want to get done with a level of kindness. The abuser is just someone who is scared and fearful. We see it all the time. Thankfully, I have not been that abused, I have been somewhat abused… but managed to have them fired.

Q. Was there point in your life where you have been successful professionally but not personally, like Margaret?
Sandra Bullock: I never thought she had an empty life – at least I don’t think she thought so. I think her love, her family, her life, her passion was her work… everything she did, from her suits to the cereal she ate in the morning, to the TV that she had, everything was designed around her greatest love, which was her job. She didn’t have anything missing until she tried to blackmail someone. He then turned the tables, took her to his hometown, tried to make her miserable and she was introduced to what family was about. That opened up a side of her that I don’t think she had dealt with in a very, very long time.

So, I don’t think she was missing anything. Just like as I have gone through my life I was missing nothing. I had everything I wanted. I used to say it’s scary because every time I’d want something I’d get it and then look at it and think: “This isn’t what I thought it would be…” I didn’t realise that I was going after things that weren’t filling me up in a way I wanted to be filled up.

Q. So what happened then?
Sandra Bullock: I never felt I was missing anything ever until one day I stopped long enough to smell the roses outside of this little treadmill I’d gotten myself onto and I realised there were other things that I like that I didn’t know. I realised I didn’t like certain things in my life that I then got rid of and it just opened the door to a plethora of other things that entered. But had I not stopped and done the work I never would have appreciated or seen them. So, things that I have now are because I think I worked at opening a door I didn’t realise should be opened, but I had never missed it because I didn’t know it was out there.

Q. How much did your life change after your proposal?
Sandra Bullock: My life changes dramatically every time I get up out of bed. After my proposal life changed in that I wasn’t asked to change. I always thought that marriage meant someone was going to ask you to stop being who you were. And I met someone who not only wants me to be who I am but likes it. So, my life changed in that my views towards marriage stopped being morbid. I found I was ready to be a good partner where I don’t think I was a very good partner to people before. I stepped up my game.

Q. One of the nice things about The Proposal is that it doesn’t make too big a deal about the age difference between your characters. Did that appeal about the role?
Sandra Bullock: Well, let me just say something… it’s funny how the older/younger thing is still a taboo on film but it’s not in real life until a magazine brings up the taboo to create another cover to sell something that isn’t a taboo anymore. It’s obvious. She’s his boss. She’s older. He’s younger. It’s there and Betty White has the great line about it and it’s a fact. But the fact also remains how often in life are you going to find your mate and that mate happens to be your same exact age and happens to have had the same life experiences to match where you are in our life so you guys can meet perfectly and give society what it wants? It just doesn’t happen that way.

Some people evolve at 24, some people are 60 and are still evolving. So why are we stopping these great connections based on age, or race or colour or whatever, gender, whatever? You meet who you meet and you connect because of your life experience. So, I loved the idea of the older/younger. I found it funny that there were still social issues that we could still talk about in film and we haven’t had that in a while.

Q. What was it like working with a friend in Ryan Reynolds?
Sandra Bullock: Usually, I’d say don’t do it. Like don’t work with your family in business. I was excited but then I got a little worried that we wouldn’t give what everyone was expecting but I worried the whole time through this thing because it’s my nature. But I love the fact that I now have the benefit of working with actors and directors that bring the best out of me. I love nothing more than knowing that Ryan and I could do a scene looking at the camera and he says something and I say something and I know, I don’t have to look at him, he’ll do something again that then comes back. It’s just a rhythm that you either have with people or you don’t.

There was a great moment, and I am going to bore everybody to death… they were showing me how Michael J Fox was so great at what he did on his show. There was a scene with him and his father at some table and they were both facing the camera and they both have this moment and the director said now watch Michael signal the father and Michael goes [intake of breath], and the father came in. It was the breath and the father knew that. I just went: “Wow!” It’s that small, but they never took their eyes away from staring ahead. It’s those moments of comedy that when you have them you know why it’s so addictive to do and why it’s so hard to do. When you nail it, or land it like that with a partner who has your back, it’s the greatest feeling on the planet in this business.

Q. If love doesn’t discriminate in age and everything why are you married to a superstar. Why are so many couples married to an actor or an actress when there are other people?
Sandra Bullock: Well, guess what, my husband is not an actor. Did you know who my husband was before I married him? Most people don’t, and I’m sure he would prefer that. My husband is an extraordinary human being. He’s one of the most talented people I have ever met in my entire life – a great father, an amazing husband and an insanely funny man. No one knew who he was outside of the people who should know who he was [before we were married]. There were people who appreciated his skills and talent, which was a very tiny group of people.

Sadly, the nature of what I do brings notice to people who have no desire to be in that spotlight and it can destroy lives. I think I benefited from marrying him… I think him marrying me brought on so many hardships and cruelty by people because of the limelight now being shone down on him. Thank God he still loves me.

But no one really knew who he was in the entertainment world other than people who had a great appreciation and respect for what he did as an artist and as a businessman. My husband is a welder and a great, great artist. He was a normal guy. I unfortunately brought some attention to him that he didn’t necessarily want. But guess what? He loves me. So, I didn’t marry an actor. I dated them and they are fabulous but I married an average Joe who normally would be fixing your car. People normally look down on what he did but I know how extraordinary he is and I am thankful that, with all of the attention, he is still okay being with me. He doesn’t like it, but he is okay with it.

Read our review of The Proposal