Sandra Bullock starred in the 2013 sci-fi feature Gravity, which ended up being one of the star’s most successful features. But Bullock was worried the feature that would become such a huge highlight in her career showed early signs of being a flop.
Sandra Bullock felt ‘Gravity’ had all the signs of being a disaster
Gravity was a 2013 feature directed by Alfonso Cuaron about a medical engineer who finds herself stranded in space. And given that a large amount of time would be spent in space, Cuaron found the feature difficult to make than he realized. Gathering the technology and the crew capable of executing the director’s intended vision was a tall order that Cuaron underestimated.
“The thing is, I’m not a technological person,” Cuaron once told The Guardian. “When I finished the screenplay, I thought: ‘We can do this in about a year.’ It’s a simple story of a woman in space alone. For me it was a small, intimate film – yes, with some visual effects, but that was it.”
It was noted that Gravity actually took four years to finish. After it was done, however, the feature felt like it was most likely to crash than to succeed.
“Every day we thought; ‘This is not going to work,’” Cuaron added. “It was a process of trial and error, and little, little hints of hope, and also a lot of mistakes. The only test screening that we had, months before the film was finished, was a disaster.”
The Blind Side star agreed, and shared the exact same feelings of doubt as her director.
“We had no idea if it would be successful. You’d explain that it was an avant-garde, existential film on loss and survival in space and everyone would be like: ‘Ok…’ It didn’t sound like a film people would be drawn to,” she said.
Sandra Bullock wasn’t the first choice for ‘Gravity’
Bullock was more than excited about being offered the lead in Gravity. The studio was looking at other female actors for the role at the time, including the likes of Angelina Jolie and Natalie Portman. But the Speed actor was willing to do the feature and had a clear schedule for it. Gravity turned out to be the perfect fit for the star at the time; it was exactly the kind of work the Oscar-winner was looking for.
“I was always longing to do, emotionally and physically, what my male counterparts always got to do. I just felt envious, every time I saw a movie that I was in awe of, and it was usually a male lead. And those kinds of roles weren’t available. They just weren’t being written,” she once told Collider.
When Gravity came her way, Bullock was impressed that the lead role was written with a woman in mind.
“It wasn’t an afterthought. I think it was the integral part of the story. I don’t want to say that’s revolutionary, but it’s revolutionary. And the fact that a studio, on blind faith, would fund something as unknown as this is revolutionary,” she said.
Sandra Bullock once shared that ‘Gravity’ put her in a bad headspace
Despite their concerns, Gravity turned out to be a phenomenal success. The feature won a couple of academy awards and became one of the highest-grossing movies of Bullock’s career, second only to Minions. But filming the movie itself was both a physical and mental challenge for the actor. She was alone in a dim space most of the time during the lonely process, and had very limited human interaction. She confided that the experience put her in a ‘morose headspace.’
“The only people I’d see was if someone came in to adjust the rig or fix something. Everything else was behind this black curtain on this vast black sound stage. Often I would just stay in whatever apparatus I was in because it was too long to get in and out of it. You learn to zone out. I don’t know if meditation is the right word but it was that principle,” she said.
But she felt the secluded experience brought her closer to her character in the film.
“My situation was somewhat like the situation the character was in,” Bullock added. “There’s no one around, you’re frustrated, nothing works, you’re in pain, you’re lonely, you want someone to fix everything for you but they can’t – all those things I was feeling.”