Oscar-winning actress Sandra Bullock talks about how she chose to play the character in the inspirational movie The Blind Side, available to buy now on DVD and Blu-ray.
What is it like to play characters that are based on real people who are not necessarily famous? Do you try to capture their spirit? And what do you look for?
That's a tough one because I do think that I tried to get as close as possible. I mean, you don't meet an energy like Leigh Anne's ever. She might not be famous here but she's known in other places. And I think I felt a great sense of fear in trying to tackle the person she is, but also a great sense of obligation to be true to this wonderful dynamic. And John Lee Hancock [director] could not explain Leigh Anne to save his life.
When I met Leigh Anne, I said, "Now I know why you can't, because she's original" [laughs]. But there's such a dynamic that exists between those people and their children that you want to pay homage to them. I wanted to as closely as I could. So, I did my best.
How do you go about choosing roles?
My way of choosing roles is vastly different now than it was a long time ago. But I can only be that way now because of what I learned from the past. So, I'm choosing now not to choose just any work because when you've had such a nice, unexpected and fulfilling ride, you really don't want to take a step backwards.
So, it has really made me satisfied in a way that I wasn't looking for but was blessed with it. And now I feel really full, in a good way, where I don't need to rush out and go find something. I don't want to.
When did you make that choice?
Well, the fact was that I realised that I'm staring at a stack of scripts and I can't bear to open them. I don't want to step into that world right now. I want to enjoy where I am.
So, I think it was over time, just having good life experiences, that I was actually cognisant of the work that I was very satisfied with. I just want to enjoy the ride instead of blasting forward and trying to fill a void that doesn't exist in the work place.
What was it about the character of Leigh Anne on the page that appealed to you, before you actually got to meet her?
Initially, when I was approached with this beautifully written story, you could see it play out. I didn't know how to play Leigh Anne. I didn't know how to approach it or what I could bring to it. So, I just kept saying, "No, this is not going to work for me." Then John said, "Well, why don't you just come meet Leigh Anne."
So, I met Leigh Anne for the whole day and I left there completely exhausted because of the energy she has, but in love with this human being and who she is at this time on the planet. But I still didn't know how to play her; I had no idea. I didn't know how to bring that to life and be truthful and do a good job with it. I don't know at what point I said yes. I don't recall.
What are your thoughts on producing as you move forward in your career?
To me, the producing falls into the same category as acting. It requires so much time out of your life and I take it very personally, I realised. So, if I do something it just has to be something I love and I don't want anyone else to do it.
When I open projects, maybe something will appeal to me. I just think I'm not opening them because I don't want anything to appeal to me right now. I'm so happy where I am right now. I don't want to be tempted to move from this place that I am. I'd like to just be happy where I am. And I think that's producing and acting right now.
What was it about this story that really resonated with you the most?
First of all, it was a beautifully executed book, especially for someone who's been around football players her whole life and still knew nothing or cared anything about the game. By the end of the game, I was in such awe of what it takes to be an athlete and what the coaches contribute to these children's lives and how they support and push and inspire.
I had a real sense of jealousy that they got to experience that and I never did as an athlete or as someone who was able to be brought to that point. But, even though I didn't think I could make this movie, the inspiring part of this movie is, here is this family that does this. They didn't do it because someone was writing an article or a book or making a movie; they did it because that's where the instinct said, "This is what we're going to do. And we're going to give love and reach out a hand." And everyone came and questioned them, of course. We don't trust anyone who does anything nice. That's just the sad world we live in.
But they didn't care. And they kept going. And it makes you feel like you need to step up your game. So, whatever wonderful actress was going to play Leigh Anne Tuohy, it was going to be an inspirational true-life story that proves we're capable of so much more than we think we are. We don't really live in a world that supports the good that we could do. They all want us to do something bad. It sells some papers or some, you know, news reports.
What kind of effect has playing Leigh Anne had on your life?
W-W-L-A-T do? [laughs] That's what I would say on set. What would Leigh Anne do?
The nice thing is we get to play these people and get to experience lives that we would normally never become in contact with. And the beauty of Leigh Anne was one of my biggest questions was, "How people use their faith and their religion as a banner and then they don't do the right thing?" But they go, "I'm a good Christian and I go to church and this is the way you should live your life."
And I told Leigh Anne that one of my largest concerns in stepping into this was that whole banner hold. I said, "It scared me because I've had experiences that haven't been great. I don't buy a lot of people who use that as their shield." And she was so open and honest and forthright. I said, "Wow, I've finally met someone who practices but doesn't preach." We're so quick to tell people how to live their lives and I'm so lucky that I've been able to stay on my path, even though I've deviated sometimes but it didn't really matter. Then you meet someone who blazes trails and they do it as a family. And you feel validated for taking your trip rather than someone else's.
But she has no idea the path she has begun in terms of adoption and fostering. It has not been on the forefront of people's minds. It is on the forefront of my mind every day now when I get up. When I look around I go, "Is she? Is he? What is their situation?" And it's because of this family. I think what they're going to do for our country in terms of being aware of that is, I don't think they realise the profound effect that they're going to have.
So, I'm happy that being me's great for me. And you see this family. They were themselves for no other benefit other than because they wanted to reach out, lend a hand. And had no idea that they would get a son in return.