Back from the brink
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.’’