NEW YORK – Sandra Bullock giggles easily, but she's also all business. In fact, these days she develops her own material and her latest flick is a teen thriller, Murder by Numbers.
In the film she has to corner a young Leopold and Loeb killing team. She defends her film choices during an in-person interview, saying personal projects like Hope Floats don't have to be blockbusters to be successful. And she has some advice for new Oscar winners Denzel Washington and Halle Berry.
I begin by reminding her that we chatted at the Oscars on the red carpet. The subject that night? Platonic date Hugh Grant and his desire to use the bathroom.
Sandra Bullock: I really shouldn't say certain things but sometimes it's like I have Tourette [Syndrome].
Bill McCuddy: No, no, open up!
Sandra Bullock: Open up. Talk about Hugh's bodily functions. That's what everyone wants to know about.
Bill McCuddy: You really do speak your mind.
Sandra Bullock: Yes. I used to not, and I think I've swung completely the other way. I think after a while when you curb yourself so much it bubbles over and now it's just, the sieve has been dropped on the sidewalk somewhere.
Bill McCuddy: Even in Hollywood where you have so many people around going 'No, don't say this'?
Sandra Bullock: There's not really anyone saying 'No don't say that.' I don't care to work with people that say, 'Look, you have an image.' I'm like, 'Look, this is what I do.' Sometimes it might get bad press, sometimes it might get good press. At least I know what I've done even if something is falsely written about me. It's like, as long as you know what you've done, it's kind of hard to get over sometimes, but I think inevitably I will always feel better by having spoken my mind. And you know, contradicted. I've been contradicting since school. (Laughs) A lot of teachers will attest to having asked me to leave the room.
Bill McCuddy: I'll wait for a major contradiction here in the interview.
Sandra Bullock: (Laughs) Okay.
Bill McCuddy: At some point you'll completely...
Sandra Bullock: I'm the biggest hypocrite.
Bill McCuddy: ...renounce everything you've just said.
Sandra Bullock: Absolutely! But I think hypocrisy is part of nature. Change. I mean you can feel one way about an issue one day, and then the very next day through certain events, feel completely different. You know?
Bill McCuddy: Was it hypocritical to give Denzel and Halle the Oscar this year?
Sandra Bullock: Absolutely not.
Bill McCuddy: They won completely on their merits, you think?
Sandra Bullock: I think absolutely. I think the hype that was made that it was some coup...was an end result. ...I mean, when Denzel's performance came out, everyone was like 'Did you see?' Everyone talked about it. When Halle's performance came out, everyone was talking about it. These films were released before people voted. You know, and then the backlash of the Oscars is always the backlash of the Oscars. I mean there's such hype and such goodwill that there's only one place to go but down. That's why I think after you win an Oscar you should just treat yourself to a year long vacation, stay away from cameras, go to Fiji, hang out, eat all you want, just, you know, enjoy the moment that you've earned.
Bill McCuddy: Just you and Oscar on a beach somewhere.
Sandra Bullock: Exactly. Or if you want to take somebody like a spouse or a friend or a playmate, take the playmate. (Laughs)
Bill McCuddy: So no truth, you think, that a lot of sins over the years were made good that night. That yes, they both gave amazing performances...
Sandra Bullock: ...Yes. And it was a sign of the times. I mean the times are changing. And unfortunately, you know, they say 'It's a man's world. It's a man's business' our entertainment business. Women have had trouble a lot longer than men have in terms of roles, and there's always something. There's always a hurdle. But hopefully we're evolving enough, and more quickly. You know, rather than having to wait another hundred years for something else to happen. And because of communication and awareness and free speech, I think the evolution happens a lot more quickly.
Bill McCuddy: Is that why you like to produce your own stuff now? Like to be in charge?
Sandra Bullock: You know, sometimes I produce by accident. And sometimes I produced because I feel like I want to be involved in the process from beginning to very end and I don't want a life other than what this project will bring. And it's exciting. I mean I don't want to ever have to sit back and complain again, 'Oh, this should have been done this way.' I have no excuse. If it's not done right I can blame myself as well as everyone next to me.
Bill McCuddy: And do you [blame yourself] when something like Hope Floats doesn't become a big money-maker?
Sandra Bullock: No. We made Hope Floats for 'x' amount of dollars. We made more than triple our money back. So it was a love project for me, it was a passion project that was allowed to me. And it did exactly what I wanted it to do. What is success? How much money do you have to make the studio back, and then some, for it to be successful? It wasn't an action adventure film. It was Hope Floats.
Bill McCuddy: No, but it could have been a big, big blockbuster.
Sandra Bullock: How do you figure?
Bill McCuddy: It had you in it, it was a good female driven story...
Sandra Bullock: No, no, [that] doesn't matter. It's the material. It's the material. It's a relationship film between mother and daughter, and it wasn't written to sort of 'grasp' a large audience. It was very specific and I loved that.
Bill McCuddy: But this is. Murder by Numbers does aspire to be a big blockbuster.
Sandra Bullock: Yes and no. Yes and no. I mean, when we were making it I didn't feel...anything...You never know what's going to hit mainstream. But, um, the subject matter can be very limiting in terms of who wants to go see it. Not everyone wants a thriller. Not everyone wants to be scared. But the subject matter is, unfortunately very universal right now. And not just right now, it's been going on for centuries and centuries and centuries.
Kids killing. People killing. People getting together for no reason. Killing is senseless to begin with. Why are we saying now that children killing is senseless?... Killing has never had sense attached to it. So it's just been more profound now because it's affecting young people, that young people are capable of pulling this off. And we don't understand why. We can sort of deduce by environment, what they've socially been exposed to. I mean you can come up with so many reasons but if you really get down to it, you just can't understand it. And it is senseless but that's been going on for centuries.
Murder by Numbers opens April 19.