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June 2006
THE LAKE HOUSE: An Interview with Sandra Bullock

THE LAKE HOUSE: An Interview with Sandra Bullock
by Mike Ralston
June 12, 2006

Twelve years ago, Sandra Bullock was a virtual unknown; her biggest credit to date was co-starring with Sylvester Stallone in "Demolition Man", and she had yet to splash into the mainstream with "While You Were Sleeping" or "The Net". At the same time, Keanu Reeves was emerging as a major international star; after winning the hearts and minds of America's youth as one half of the dim-witted duo Bill and Ted, he showed his acting chops in "Point Break" and "Bram Stoker's Dracula". But when the pair appeared in Jan de Bont's relentless thrill ride, everything changed for both of them - not the least of which including the addition of a lifelong collaborator and colleague.

This month, "The Lake House" offers Bullock and Reeves a long overdue reunion. Both play inhabitants of the titular domicile, but with one catch: he lived there two years before she did. When they mysteriously start exchanging correspondence, a romance blooms; and in this recent interview with Blackfilm at the movie's press day, the pair talk about the practical and emotional logistics of sharing the screen and finding love when you're not allowed to actually spend time with one another.

Do you believe in romantic destiny?

Sandra Bullock: I think there are different levels of romance. I can have an incredible romance with him (Keanu) when we work together and it's that in that moment. I do believe in the freedom of choice and carving out your own happiness. All I can work with is what I know, whatever choices are being made through astrology and destiny and fate I have no control over. I have the control over saying yes or no to the experience. I hope there's something amazing and bigger, there's a lot of coincidences and things that have happened in my lifetime where I go, ‘did that just happen?' I believe there are bigger things at work than just me. I know that there are big things that are happening and you just have to be open enough to see them.

Do you remember your first big crush?

SB: Oh yes it was in Germany in first grade, Stefan. I moved back to the states and then came back and my cousin started dating him I think like in the second or third grade because she was dating his brother at the time (that I was dating him).

KR: I'll go today with Alison. It was unrequited. I'd like to have a romantic destiny please if anyone is listening up there.

Do you find that you waited to get married to Jesse James?

SB: I never waited but I think I stayed open to all possibilities and had the greatest of love and wouldn't change anything that I did any step of the way. The things that I looked at mistakes then led me to right here, this day and were the best things that ever happened to me. I seized the opportunities and love. I had love, so much love, a few incredible relationships. To me it seems like a lot because you have four years with someone and to me that's just the same of having been married to them but it was a part in our life. I never waited for anything. I was blessed enough to be loved the way that I was loved in my lifetime. I never wanted to get married. It was a death sentence to me. How many marriages do you see that you really admire? How many people who are in a marriage go, ‘oh my God I have the greatest relationship, I'm so happy'? I want to enjoy everything that I do and be the best of myself so being married wasn't the thing. I wasn't raised with have a white dress and a wedding. I was raised with have a good life and push yourself and achieve what you want to achieve in happiness. I hope that when I'm 60 I can still look at myself and say I'm lucky to be loved and healthy and happy.

What gave you that leap of faith to try marriage?

SB: Life gives you what you need to learn. It was bigger than I was in all the right ways. I'm a control freak who can take care of everything myself, who can carry my own luggage, takes care of the car, run my own business, wants an evil empire; I can do anything you tell me. I can do it, I don't need a man. I can take care of everything. It had everything and nothing to do with that. It took my eight year old godson who led me to this place for Christmas (where I met Jesse) and that's what happened.

Keanu, what are you looking for in a relationship?

SB: Do you want me to help you out here? He doesn't do anything half-assed at all. There's nothing that he does that isn't 1000 percent committed from himself and if doesn't feel right he's not gonna do it on all levels of art, life, wine, food.

Keanu Reeves: I wish that was true. Getting older, experience, kind of hopefully be the best you can be to yourself and to another person. Communication and imagination; a relationship is an imaginative act; it's an act of creation. Someone once said to me that a relationship with a person and a kid is unconditional but a relationship between adults is conditional in a sense; but that condition can be of the best kind.

How does knowing each other help with these characters' love story?

Keanu Reeves: It really called upon just being open and whatever connection Sandra and I have to let that be.

SB: It's an ease for me to look at him directly in places where I'm not comfortable with myself. I can look him in the eye and I feel I have a place there. There are other people you can look at and not feel like you're supposed to be there so that was a nice luxury for me. I know what it's like to remember him. We have a nice history and there's a great level of comfort that I have (with Keanu). When we had to be together we had to be in the most intimate of ways and I think I got to see his history and what he's experienced in these past 10 years and who he is now as a man, just as good as when I first met him but that much more open. We had about 60 people watching us filming, talking, whispering as they're moving things and then the neighborhood is out and people are hanging outside their houses. It's odd. You just have to zone out and not think, ‘am I doing something that looks odd.' I'm just gonna do what feels right. (Director) Alejandro (Agresti) would bark out, ‘OK take her face, kiss her like this all over her face!' What does he mean? By the end we just do we what we do on our own and he filmed it and it just worked. You get lucky with some of your partners in life and sometimes it clicks.  It might click on film and it doesn't click off film.

They communicate with each other the old-fashioned way through letter writing. What does that mean to you?

KR: In terms of writing letters I tend to type them on a real typewriter. I like the contact of it. When I write I try to write quasi poetically unless I'm answering some kind of lawyer letter from the co-op. I enjoy the sensation of sitting down and taking time and typing, the physical ness of it, the imprint on the paper. The idea that it's not prone to sunspot flairs (like on a computer) and it has its own independence. It's the effort and the thought and it's also something that doesn't take batteries.

SB: It's charged by you and your efforts. I love nothing more than the written word and someone taking the time (to write). I write love letters, big time. One of the greatest gifts that girlfriends of mine gave me for a birthday like five years ago was they knew how much I loved the written word. I love when someone takes the time and leaves you a note or sends you a letter. They went to every single person that I ever said I admired or loved or respected as an actor or musician or philosopher or scientist and sent them a card and said, ‘it's her birthday, write something that springs to mind.' There's a stack from people in this book. I still can't get through it because it's so overwhelming. They put this leather bound book together and it was with their handwriting or (they drew) little faces or an exclamation point or just a little scribble and started writing around the sides or writing around the back. They took the time.

Which birthday was it?

SB: There are no milestone birthdays in my life. There are no events. Every birthday has to be celebrated to its fullest even if it's with one person or it's with 20.

If you could receive a letter from someone tomorrow who would it be from?

SB: My mother (Helga Bullock who died in April 2000) and I'd want to see how she is because I'm sure she's having a whole adventure of her own. I just want to know what it's like and how she is. Just to see her handwriting. She had very dramatic handwriting and it was so distinctive. I just want to see that handwriting on the outside of a letter. It's just the handwriting; I don't really need the contents.

What is happening with your music?

KR: The band that I played with for nine years, Dog Star we kind of came to a place where we couldn't play music together anymore but it was a good run. Then I played with a band for a year and a half called Becky, Becky rocks. Then I kind of got in the band's way. They wanted to tour that I couldn't commit to. I still play bass and jam with friends.

Is Jesse alright after his latest injury?

SB: He got hurt. He broke his scapula and I think cracked ribs and internal bruising. Going to the hospital is a bi-semi-annual adventure for us. He's OK but he's in pain. He's had more broken bones. He went and told the doctor he broke it but the doctor said no, he needs blunt forced trauma and we went, ‘he got hit by a race car.' But he knows how to heal himself. I did the driving from the hospital but he wanted to drive himself.

THE LAKE HOUSE opens on June 9th, 2006


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