As can be gleaned from the Gravity trailer, star Sandra Bullock spends much of the film by herself. George Clooney stars with the Oscar winner, but they each have their own issues when a bunch of debris knocks them off their spaceship and sends them hurdling into space in Alfonso Cuaron’s astounding epic. “I never thought about being the only person on screen,” Bullock said to Movie Fanatic. “You had the story, with the elements that Jonas (Cuaron) and Alfonso wrote.”
Bullock also said that she never felt like she was literally flying solo out there and the only performer living the Gravity 3D experience. "The technology was a constant character around you. I always went back to, ‘What was in their heads that I need to honor and help execute?’ So, I never once thought, ‘I’m the only person,'" she said.
She also said that although at times they are each solo on that enormous screen, Clooney’s presence was never far away. “There was George, who’s a vital part of this film. He represents life and this outlook on living that. If you don’t have that, this film could not exist,” Bullock admitted.
Evidence of another facet of why she was never “alone” is seen in these Gravity clips. Bullock could not have executed these scenes with such expertise without the help of some real life astronauts. They were always in her head while she was acting, and their experience and expertise were never far away -- even with the littlest of things.
“We had a lot of technicians around us that helped me, literally, with knowing where buttons were and what I would do,” she said.
The actress was more concerned about how your physical body would work in the absence of gravity. “There’s no one to ask about that,” she admitted. “You have people explaining, ‘Well, this is what happens.’ I was like, ‘It’s just not registering.'"
Then, fate intervened and it all became much clearer… thanks to a family member's day at a winery. “My brother-in-law was actually with a friend of his at some wine packaging place, and the guy said, ‘You know, my sister, she’s an astronaut.’ And my brother-in-law went, ‘Well, my sister-in-law is getting ready to be an astronaut,’” she said and smiled.
“So, he got my number to Dr. Catherine Coleman, who was at the ISS (International Space Station), at the time. She called and I was able to literally ask someone who’s experiencing the things that I was trying to physically learn about how the body works, and what you do, and what I need to re-teach my body to do, physically, that cannot happen on Earth.”
What she found was priceless to her performance that is garnering serious Oscar buzz. “It’s just the oddest thing to reprogram your reactions,” she reported. “It was just a really coincidental, fortuitous thing that happened, over wine -- that got me the final piece of the information that I needed.”
Given that she was able to talk to a female astronaut, it was all the more special, especially, Bullock admitted, because it was something she had wanted to do in her career -- tackle a role normally reserved for men.
“I was always longing to do, emotionally and physically, what my male counterparts always got to do. I just felt envious, every time I saw a movie that I was in awe of, and it was usually a male lead. And those kinds of roles weren’t available. They just weren’t being written,” Bullock said.
“In the last couple of years, things have shifted. And then, there’s the fact that Jonas and Alfonso wrote this specifically as a woman. It wasn’t an afterthought. I think it was the integral part of the story. I don’t want to say that’s revolutionary, but it’s revolutionary.”
She then felt the pressure with Gravity to do it as must justice as humanly possible. “To be able to be the person to do it is beyond humbling. It makes you realize, ‘I have to step up and be the best version of myself, so that whatever is asked of me, I can produce,'" she said. “So, every day, I’m so grateful.”
Now that Gravity is completed and ready for audiences, Bullock can count this experience as one of her greatest. “The first time I saw it all put together was at the Venice Film Festival,” Bullock said.
This time watching a film she stars in was a little different and that speaks volumes to what audiences can expect when it premieres October 4. “When you’re an actor, seeing yourself for the first time, you spend all your time just watching yourself and hating yourself and picking your performance apart. You say, ‘I look horrible. I should quit,’” Bullock said.
“But, there was no time to pick apart one’s performance because you were inundated with the extreme beauty and emotion that Alfonso created, visually. Technology is something that’s heady, but it was turned into something so emotional, and such a visceral, physical experience, in this movie. You find yourself affected in ways that you were not planning on being affected. You can’t really speak after the film is over. I was lucky enough, in my work career, to finally be able to view a movie I was in as it was supposed to be viewed, as a newcomer.”