Back from the brink

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Eguide Movies - JAKE COYLE EX­TREMELY LOUD & IN­CRED­I­BLY CLOSE Now show­ing State and Vil­lage cine­mas

SAN­DRA Bul­lock wasn’t look­ing to re­turn to act­ing when di­rec­tor Stephen Daldry called about Ex­tremely Loud & In­cred­i­bly Close.

Bul­lock’s last film, 2009’ s The Blind Side, was the kind of ca­reer apogee of which most ac­tresses dream, win­ning her a best ac­tress Academy Award.

But the ac­com­plish­ment, which would nor­mally be fol­lowed by a wave of projects, was in­stead marred by public scan­dal.

Bul­lock’s hus­band, Mon­ster Garage host Jesse James, was re­vealed to have been un­faith­ful. The fall­out, which led to di­vorce, was cov­ered re­lent­lessly by the tabloids. Bul­lock went ahead and adopted a baby boy.

When Daldry, the di­rec­tor of The Hours and The Reader, ap­proached her about Ex­tremely Loud, Bul­lock wasn’t sure she would re­turn to act­ing at all.

‘‘ I was per­fectly con­tent to be per­ma­nently bro­ken,’’ she says.

Recog­nis­ing how that might sound in print, she smiles at the un­in­tended hint of her per­sonal tur­moil and adds ‘‘ time- wise’’ to clar­ify the break as one from moviemak­ing.

‘‘ I hon­estly didn’t think I was in a place where I wanted to work,’’ Bul­lock says.

‘‘ I wasn’t pre­pared. But the op­por­tu­nity was louder than my head.’’

The chance was to play a sup­port­ing but key role in Daldry’s adap­ta­tion of Jonathan Safran Foer’s novel. In it, Bul­lock plays the mother of a bright, pre­co­cious child ( Thomas Horn, both pic­tured), whose fa­ther ( Tom Hanks) dies in the Septem­ber 11 World Trade Cen­ter at­tacks.

‘‘ What a great way to get back on the horse,’’ Bul­lock says.

It took some court­ing. Daldry vis­ited Bul­lock at her house. When he asked her what she might bring to the role, the ac­tress was frank.

‘‘ I said, ‘ I haven’t the slight­est idea’,’’ she says. One of the film’s most strik­ing and emo­tional scenes is a flash­back to Bul­lock’s char­ac­ter speak­ing on the phone with her hus­band, who is call­ing from atop one of the burn­ing tow­ers.

‘‘ The thing that made it so poignant for me was that Tom Hanks showed up that day,’’ Bul­lock says. ‘‘ He sat in a room not far from me and made that call ev­ery sin­gle time.

‘‘ My hus­band who is call­ing be­cause he knows he’s go­ing to die, giv­ing me some gift, some joy, some jewel – some­thing that he can leave me with so he knows I’m go­ing to be OK.’’

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