Not so long ago, an actress told the Detroit Free Press that her name was Sandra, and she was a romantic-comicaholic in need of an intervention.
The quip got picked up by news services, and - says Sandra Bullock - “got twisted and maimed the way all those things do. So everything was, `Sandra renounces comedy.’ The fact is, I love comedy, I’ll always do comedy. But hey, I got nobody to blame for that but my big smart cutesy mouth.”
Sandra Bullock, Julian McMahon, Nia Long, Amber Valletta, Shyann McClure, Courtney Taylor Burness, Peter Stormare
(TriStar Pictures; US theatrical: 16 Mar 2007 (General release); UK theatrical: 16 Mar 2007 (General release); 2007)
Nevertheless, she was as good as her word. Bullock, who was queen of the rom-coms, went cold turkey. Having become, she says “bored by the same-old same-old” formulas of the genre, she returned to drama, doing a cameo in the Kevin Bacon-directed (and barely seen) “Loverboy” and a turn as “To Kill a Mockingbird” author Harper Lee in Douglas McGrath’s Truman Capote portrait “Infamous.”
Had “Infamous” not suffered the indignity of being beaten to market by the equally well-written and -acted “Capote,” Bullock might have gotten an Oscar nomination.
Since no one saw “Infamous” - “a shameful shame,” says Bullock, “because Doug McGrath is a poet” - Bullock’s new film “Premonition,” a supernatural thriller opening Friday that plays with time and your head, seems to follow “The Lake House,” a supernatural romantic drama that plays with time and your head.
“Oh great, here we go again with the pigeon-holing,” Bullock complains - mock seriously. “Does it occur to anyone that I tend to grab whatever happens to be the best thing out there at the time? I read `Premonition’ and I thought, `This is a great idea, but I don’t know how we’ll ever get it made into a movie.’ That’s when I knew we had to get it made into a movie.”
“Premonition” was written “on spec” - not ordered up and pre-paid for by a producer or a studio - by Bill Kelly, who wrote the time-warp comedy “Blast From the Past.” It tells the story of a married woman with two daughters who receives the devastating news that her husband has been killed in a car accident. But when she forces herself to get out of bed the following day, her husband is finishing breakfast and getting the kids ready for school. Assuming she has experienced a vivid dream, she relaxes into her real life, only to get another shock the next day .
It had been reported that “Premonition” was a remake of an Asian thriller released in the United States on DVD with the same title, but while it resembles a Japanese thriller sharing a “premonition” theme, Kelly says his script is original.
“This is all my work,” he says. “I’ve never seen a Japanese horror movie in my life. A lot of the things I’ve written are rooted in the idea of moving in and out of time, going between two worlds. I was a big `Twilight Zone’ fan as a kid, so there’s undoubtedly some of that influence in there.”
That at least one scene in “Premonition” and the horror drama “Yogen” are eerily similar is “pure coincidence,” Kelly says.
Bullock seconds Kelly, saying what drew her to his script was that it was stylistically different than most of the American thrillers she is offered.
“It was about asking questions instead of providing all the answers,” says Bullock. “But the fact that it was so different meant that it had to feel different, too. So I heard about this German director, Mennan Yapo, and this amazing film he had made,” 2004’s “Lautlos,” released on DVD as “Soundless.” “When I watched it, I was just like, yes, this is the guy. It’s a thriller that’s also a romance, but the mood of this thing - it was incredible.” When Menna n read “Premonition,” he said he wanted to use his cinematographer, Torsen Lippstock, too.
“Mennan and Torsten would come up with the most beautiful visual designs, we were all just beyond excited. In my favorite scene, we’ve got all these people, including my makeup artist moving the air, blowing these candles and the light around, this subtle flickering. And, God, I know what it sounds like, but I was like, `Gee, can you guys shoot my next 10 movies?’ “
Bullock says that the phenomenon of DVD and HDTVs means that smaller, more intimate films like “Infamous” and “Premonition” are more financially and artistically feasible. Even when a film does not become what she calls “a slammo-bango opening weekend hit, it has an afterlife; it doesn’t just disappear.” But she is quick to add that “Premonition” is a film that deserves to be seen “on a big screen, with other people, in the dark.”
“I don’t have a clue what’s going to happen in this business, but I just have to think that some people will always make movies that transcend the home theater, unless you can afford to build one as big as a real movie theater. Plus, I think there are movies that are better when you see them with a whole bunch of other human beings, strangers, feeling the same things you are feeling. Thrillers and comedy are two genres that come to mind.”
To make it clear yet again, she is not abandoning comedy. Bullock says she is developing, through her own production company, “a real cool guy’s comedy, only with a girl,” but says she fears that if she talks about it, “it will all fall apart.”
“You have to be careful what you say to the press. Maybe I’m finally learning. But probably not.”