Monday, May 20

Sleepless in Hollywood

Sleepless in Hollywood

With Speed and now Sleeping, Sandra Bullock’s meteoric rise to
the top has come with a flurry of new projects. How does she
unwind? Salsa.

By Michael Horowitz

Daily Bruin Senior Staff

It’s hard to think of Sandra Bullock without picturing her
scene-stealing grin or her buoyant demeanor.

Yet offscreen she admits that her happiness is anything but
carefree ­ it’s a choice.

"The thing I try to do every day is just wake up and literally
saturate myself with the day," she says. "The last couple years
I’ve had a lot of things happen around me that showed me how short
life is and just opened my eyes."

"Like on The Net (the film she’s working on presently), on
Valentine’s Day, the head of our special effects department was
killed. This is on Valentine’s Day, he had two young children, and
you just don’t think. You just don’t think­ it’s things like
that that make you go, ‘you know what? It’s just too short.!’

"A friend of mine who was close died of cancer and sickness,"
she says. "All of a sudden the world is falling apart. You just sit
there and go, ‘I want a flower to bloom and I want the news to
report on it!’

"I force myself to go out every day ­ I don’t care if
you’re working 16 hours ­ to have a great time, surround
yourself with people who love to play, enjoy life, and don’t go
toward the negative.

"I’m the kind of person who allows people to suck it out of me,"
she concludes. "So I don’t go there."

Only one word describes Bullock’s meteoric rise to Hollywood’s
current crop of young actresses, and only one word captures her
momentum in finding new projects. Speed.

Last summer’s action smash made its star, Keanu Reeves, hot
property, but it made Bullock overnight. In the rush of excitement,
she’s getting offers left and right, including a role in Batman
Forever, which she turned down to tackle While You Were Sleeping.
For the current film, director John Turtletaub cast her before
anyone else, a choice that seems innately logical because she’s the
lead, yet almost unheard of in an actor-centric Hollywood. The
gamble paid off, as While You Were Sleeping opened at No. 1 atop
the box office last weekend.

She’s currently finishing The Net, an eagerly awaited
techno-thriller, and then she’s lined up to film Denis Leary’s Two
if by Sea and a project called Kate and Leopold which she will
produce for Miramax. The script for Kate and Leopold, an
inter-century romance, was given to her by a friend who had never
written a screenplay before, and Bullock used her new-found clout
to get the process started.

Not bad for an actress who hadn’t been credited before the title
until Speed.

Yet Bullock is not one to brag about being a mover and a shaker.
She confesses that she feels awkward with the Hollywood scene

"I don’t do well in mingling, networking, partying type of
things," she says. "I don’t want to go to a party and talk about
work. I want to have a barbeque and I want to talk about the food
on the grill."

That’s why when she’s interested in blowing off steam from a
hard day’s work, only a one-word activity can suffice: salsa.

"It’s the only thing I can do and never feel guilty for it," she
says about her dancing. "But when I do it, we go to great little
Cuban places that are around L.A. with a live Salsa band and
there’s a group of us that go … everyone migrates to the same

She’s not about to give a location, she’s been burned by that
mistake before, but she’s talking about family-run, family-focused
places around the city.

"You go from 10 to 2, you eat great food, great music and you
dance," she says. "It’s like therapy. You sweat like crazy, you
dance, you sleep better."

Not much can stop Bullock from sleeping soundly. Like many
actors in the industry she’s got a catalog of work she did before
her rise to the public eye. She hesitates to call it direct to
video, but she never lets it bother her either way.

"What happened was, when you’re in New York, you’re doing little
NYU films to learn your craft, and they’re not supposed to be for
release," she explains, "then all of a sudden you do a film that’s
a hit and you find these out-of-the-way video companies that cut
your head off and stick it on another person’s body."

She screams good-naturedly.

"But you know what? There’s nothing in my work that I’m
embarrassed about," she says. "I look at my work and I go ‘I had no
idea what I was doing there, I was very green, it was a stupid
choice.’ But look at anybody’s body of work. Everybody’s got to
start someplace."

From her Love Potion Number Nine’s loveable nerd and The Thing
Called Love’s country singer/beauty queen to While You Were
Sleeping’s quiet Lucy, she’s played the gamut of female roles. The
range makes her wonder why she’s thought of as a tomboy in
cinematic circles.

"It’s funny," she says. "People often say that about girls like
that, that are strong and have a direction, maybe blue-collar, that
they have a tomboy quality.

"It’s either that role or the armpiece," she says. "You have
either one or the other."

She defends Lucy. "She can hang with the boys and she can hang
with the girls," she says. "It’s the same with men ­ men who
can have girls who are friends and hang with them and then go out
and play pool. I think it’s a nice balance.

"I’ve done some films where I’m the complete girl, and done some
with the tomboy. But I’m always going to be attracted to strong
things, and if they’re a little tomboyish, that’s always fun
because then you get to do more fun stuff."

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