Take the day she got her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame a few weeks ago.
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Sure, she jokes that she gave her son Louis Bullock some gummies to get through the ceremony. But then she went one step further. "When we got home, I had my son put his hands in cement outside our door, so he would feel special, too," she says. "Someday when he's 15 and mad at me, I can say, 'Look at all the fun things we did when you were little!'"
There's nothing little about Bullock's new mega hit—and record smashing!—flick Gravity, which easily is one of the best films of 2013. You don't just feel like you're watching a movie about space. You're along for the ride as Bullock, a doctor in space, finds herself hurling out-of-control through the blackness of zero gravity.
I sat down with Bullock in Los Angeles to talk about Gravity, and what keeps her grounded these days. With long black hair flowing and wearing a gorgeous black, figure hugging dress, Bullock smiles and reveals her secret for juggling it all:
YourTango: How do you focus on such an intense movie like Gravity and deal with a very active three-year-old at the same time?
Sandra Bullock: (Laughing) I had to take a little boy with me to the set. 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.
YourTango: What's important to you now when it comes to raising your son and dealing with Hollywood?
Sandra Bullock: There is a level of kindness that I'm looking for in my work. I found that on this Gravity set. My life with my little boy fit this movie, which is so important to me now. My son was shown so much kindness on the set. That and this general sense of the unknown of filming a space movie bonded everyone together.
YourTango: Your body is amazing in Gravity. How much working out did you do?
Sandra Bullock: I had to retrain my body from the neck down to react like it was in Zero G. What I learned is that your body reacts to the push and pull on the ground. It's completely different in Zero G. It took weeks of training and I had to separate my head from the feeling that I was on Earth. The rest of it was all about strength. It was just core strength from a dancer's perspective.
YourTango: How in the world—or should we say this world—did you film the space scenes?
Sandra Bullock: We filmed in basic blackness with metallic objects. 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.
YourTango: Didn't you speak to a female astronaut?
Sandra Bullock: 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.
YourTango: You're alone in so many scenes. Was that strange? Lonely?
Sandra Bullock: I never thought that I was the only person on screen. Space was a constant character around me. And then there was George Clooney, 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.
YourTango: Oh yeah, that George Clooney. Didn't he bond big-time with your son?
Sandra Bullock: On-screen, George and I didn't have a lot of time together, and I wish we had more. I'd love to do more movies with him. This was a great way to start ... George and my son 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.
YourTango: Gravity allowed you to do something you always wanted to do on-screen, didn't it?
Sandra Bullock: I had always longed to do emotionally and physically what my male counterparts always do in movies. 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. (Director) Alfonso (Cuaron) and his son (Jonas Cuaron) wrote this specifically with a woman as the integral part of the story. It was revolutionary. 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.
YourTango: How is life in general these days?
Sandra Bullock: Life is good. Very good.
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