In ‘Gravity,’ Bullock far from Earth but close to her son
BY CINDY PEARLMAN October 6, 2013 6:50PM
Sandra Bullock in "Gravity"
Updated: October 11, 2013 1:56PM
LOS ANGELES — In space, no one can hear you scream.
Unless you’re a new mother.
Sandra Bullock, 49, was worried that while she was off filming “Gravity,” her little boy Louie might need her.
What’s a mom of a then-1 1/2-year-old to do? “I said to the producers, ‘Make this movie an amazing experience for him. Make it a good life experience, so I’m not way up on some wire dangling and wondering what he is doing and worried every minute about him.’ ”
Louie didn’t mind mom floating around space.
“He got a wonderland for a 1 1/2-year-old and everything was bumper-guarded to protect a child’s head,” she says.
Her own head was in the film “Gravity” from the start. She plays Dr. Ryan Stone, a medical engineer and a woman who just lost her child. She is healing in space far, far away from it all, when she opts to continue a repair project for a minute too long.
Kaboom! Space debris causes a major accident.
Suddenly, she’s hurling through the dark with astronaut Matt Kowalsky (George Clooney).
Bullock says she did the film to work with director Alfonso Cuaron.
“The experience of meeting an artist you’re in awe of and hope to create with one day is usually a disappointing one,” she admits.
“You put them on a pedestal and then think, ‘They’re not really a nice person.’ With Alfonso, I got to meet a human being.
“I knew we were on similar paths in life. We looked at life in the same way,” she says. “We looked at this script, written by Alfonso’s son, and said, ‘I don’t know how we’re going to pull this off.’ Yet, there was a sense of calm and understanding. Alfonso kept telling me to go back to the emotions of the story.”
The story also required her to go physically where she hadn’t gone before … ever.
“I had to retrain my body from the neck down to react like it was in Zero G,” she says. “What I learned is that your body reacts to the push and pull on the ground. It’s completely different in Zero G.
“It was just core strength from a dancer’s perspective.
Floating around took a lot of stamina.
“We filmed in basic blackness with metallic objects,” she says. “There were various contraptions that existed on that soundstage that lifted me and spun me. I just made them my friend as quickly as possible and tried to find the physicality to ride them while telling the emotional story of this movie.
“The machines were so complex. It was like my body was communicating, but in a different language.”
She found her inner space dweller with the help of a real astronaut who served as a tech advisor.
“One night, my brother-in-law was with a friend at a wine packaging place and said, ‘My sister-in-law is playing someone in space.’ His friend said, ‘My sister-in-law is an astronaut.’ He got her number to me, and I was literally able to ask her how the human body works in space.
“I asked, ‘What do I need to re-teach my body? What should I do? How much strength do I need to move my arm?’ It’s the oddest thing to reprogram your reactions for space.”
As for reacting to Clooney, she just laughs.
“And then there was George, who is such a vital person, and represents life in the film. So I never thought about being alone until I started doing press and people started to mention it.”
She says little Louie really bonded with his big buddy George. “They clicked from the start. Louis is a dude, and when he wanted to have some man time with his friend George, he would let me know,” she says with a laugh.
She says “Gravity” was a victory for her as an artist.
“I had always longed to do emotionally and physically what my male counterparts always do in movies,” she says. “I felt envious every time I saw a movie I was in awe of and had a male lead.
“Those roles were not being written for women. For the last few years, I had been searching for one.”
“Alfonso and his son [Jonas Cuaron] wrote this specifically with a woman as the integral part of the story. It was revolutionary,” she says. “A studio on blind faith funded something as unknown as this script. That was revolutionary. To be able to be the woman in the film was beyond humbling.”
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