Starting off as an action heroine before successfully trying her hand at comedy and award-winning serious roles, Sandra Bullock has been entertaining us for nearly three decades. Below are 20 things you might not have realised about this talented, versatile actor.
20. She temporarily retired from acting after her divorce
Being an actor is usually painted as a pretty sweet and glamourous deal, and it’s true that there are a lot of benefits that go along with it.
However, there are also a lot of downsides, and living your life unable to escape the public eye is definitely one of them.
When rumours began to circulate that Sandra Bullock’s husband Jesse James had been unfaithful following their wedding in 2005, the press speculated on it on blogs and in the papers.
Bullock eventually divorced James as a result of this alleged infidelity in 2010, with details of the whole process being lapped up by the press.
After the whole ordeal, Bullock stepped away from acting and the spotlight for a full two years, believing that she couldn’t go back to work until she could step out of her upset mindset while playing a role.
She later said in interviews that she didn’t want her pain to influence the character’s she played, but also couldn’t distract herself from it, so she waited until she had begun to heal.
19. Her home was once invaded by a stalker
Dealing with fans is another thing that all high-profile actors have to deal with, for better or for worse.
Most actors are happy to have people support their work, and are usually pretty gracious about signing autographs and taking pictures.
There is a dark side to the idea of a dedicated fanbase though, and that is that some people can take things way too far.
Bullock was unfortunate enough to encounter someone who was obsessed with her to a criminal degree, which led to a seriously traumatic event.
Bullock’s stalker Joshua James Corbett broke into her house in 2014, forcing her to hide in a cupboard and call the police.
The police arrived before she came to any harm, and her frightened 911 call was used as evidence to convict him.
18. The stalker was later involved in a very famous plane crash
We’ve already discussed the fact that Bullock was unlucky enough to be targetted by a stalker, but that’s actually not even the full story.
Joshua James Corbett was also involved in another high-profile disaster, involving a plane crash in the middle of a city.
When a small private plane crashed into the middle of an LA neighbourhood, it was later revealed that Joshua Corbett was the owner.
Not only that, but the pilot who crashed the plane, and walked away unharmed, was actually his father, Henry Corbett.
A couple of years later, Joshua Corbett died from self-inflicted injuries, after a long stand-off with police.
He had allegedly been seeking treatment, after writing Bullock a detailed letter, apparently believing he was her husband and the father to her son.
17. She missed out on starring in the Oscar-winning Million Dollar Baby
If you’re an actor, there are few professional setbacks more annoying, than someone else succeeding in a role you really wanted.
That’s exactly what happened to Sandra Bullock, since she championed Million Dollar Baby, but wasn’t able to star in it.
The story goes that Bullock hounded studios trying to get the movie made, and always envisioned herself in the starring role.
However, when Bullock decided to make the movie through her own production company, Hilary Swank signed on to play the role instead.
Not only that, but Swank won an Oscar for her performance as the famous female boxer, while Bullock wrapped filming on Miss Congeniality 2.
When asked later if she was disappointed by the way things had played out, she simply said “when things like that happen, that’s the way they’re supposed to be”.
16. She’s taken Lily Collins under her wing
Bullock has two adopted children, but she’s also gotten a reputation for adopting younger actors, by giving them help and guidance.
Thanks to her long and illustrious career, many younger performers look up to her, and want to learn as much as they can from her about the industry.
In particular, Lily Collins gushed in several interviews about wanting to work with Sandra Bullock in a project.
When the two became friends, she began to ask her for advice about the industry, and tried to learn from Bullock’s decades of experience.
Despite Collins now being very successful in her own right, she apparently still occasionally reaches out to Bullock for help and guidance.
Having a legendary actor on speed dial must be a great way to sort the good projects from the bad, and to know exactly what to wear to a premiere.
15. Bullock called Gravity the most “lonely” movie she had ever worked on
Gravity is one of the most acclaimed movies that Bullock has ever been in, and is widely regarded as containing one of her most acclaimed performances.
Her performance as Dr. Ryan Stone earned her both a Golden Globe nomination and an Academy Award nomination, although she didn’t win either.
Due to the plot of the movie, Bullock spent the vast majority of her time on set alone, surrounded by hundreds of cameras but no other actors.
Before the film was screened at the Toronto International Film Festival, Bullock later described herself as being in a morose headspace for most of the shoot, and said it was a “painfully lonely” experience at times.
With that said, she admitted that the “frustrating, painful isolation” she felt on set was exactly what the character needed to embody, so it only benefited her performance.
Unfortunately, Gravity was the first movie she filmed after her divorce from Jesse James, making it feel like an even lonelier experience.
14. She adopted a whole school after Hurricane Katrina
As we’ll explore in more detail later in the article, Bullock’s second passion after acting is definitely philanthropy.
She has donated to several charitable causes over the years, and was particularly active in the years following Hurricane Katrina.
One of her efforts involved donating to New Orleans’ Warren Easton Charter High School, after it sustained four million dollars worth of damage in the hurricane.
As well as helping the school pay for its repairs, she also playfully agreed to ‘adopt’ the school, and watch their journey towards recovering and reopening.
Sandra Bullock even agreed to give the graduating class a very special commencement speech, including some very unique advice.
In particular, she asked the students not to pick their nose in public, and for that matter not to pick their nose in private either.
13. Her grandfather was a German rocket scientist
Lots of actors claim to have been in love with the world of entertainment ever since they were young, but for Sandra Bullock, her connection to performing go even further back.
That’s because both of her parents are involved with the glitz and glamour of the stage, which means she was literally born with greasepaint in her veins.
Sandra Bullock’s father is John W. Bullock who, when he wasn’t working in the Army, worked as a voice coach.
Similarly, her mother was a successful opera singer, who later moved on to coaching other singers as well.
Only her grandfather broke the tradition of an entertainment-based profession, by working as a rocket scientist.
Her grandfather was stationed in Nuremberg, where he worked on rocket development for the German government.
12. She grew up speaking German
Sandra Bullock’s mother was born in Germany, and had zero hesitation about making sure her daughter was in touch with her heritage.
To ensure this, she spoke German around the house until Sandra Bullock was fluent, and then took her travelling.
Bullock spent her childhood touring Europe with her two parents, and so she was able to speak fluent German from a young age.
It is a skill she has never lost, although she doesn’t often utilise it in her day job as an actor.
Bullock’s family lineage does mean she is able to claim dual citizenship, in both America and Germany.
Another interesting fact is that she did some of her first-ever performances in Germany, while on the European touring circuit with her mother.
11. She performed in operas as a child
Not only did Sandra Bullock tour with her mother throughout Europe and take part in the performances, but she was expected to take on complex vocal roles from a young age.
She was trained throughout her childhood as a classical singer, taking lessons from both of her parents and practising constantly.
As she grew older, she even starred in a number of high school productions in singing roles, and she was expected to carry on down that path.
It was only when she went to Carolina University that she switched her focus away from singing, studying drama instead of musical theatre.
Once graduated, she moved to New York to pursue an acting career, and mostly left her singing skills behind.
She does occasionally utilise them though, either for comedic purposes or for a special concert.
10. She hates musicals
Despite all of the singing she did in her childhood, and the love both her parents have for opera, Sandra Bullock’s preferences are a little different.
Though she did take after her parents in that she ended up in entertainment, she never really developed the love for musicals in that they did in her adulthood.
In fact, not only does Sandra Bullock have very little interest in musicals, but she also genuinely dislikes them.
On several occasions, Bullock has been quite open about absolutely despising musicals; saying that she would never act in one despite having the skills.
In an interview with Harper’s Bazaar, she went so far as to plainly say “I hate musicals! Hate them!”
So it’s probably fair to count her out of any upcoming musical reboots, whether it’s Phantom of the Opera or Pippin.
9. Her breakthrough roles saw her match up with two action movie legends
Bullock made her acting debut with a small role in the 1987 thriller Hangmen, but it was six years before Hollywood stood up and took notice of her.
Her breakthrough roles came when she starred alongside two action legends: Sylvester Stallone in Demolition Man and Keanu Reeves in Speed.
Both roles were in action movies, which gave her a bit of a reputation as the go-to girl for those kinds of roles.
It’s a genre she has gone back to throughout her life, since she has also appeared in movies such as Gravity, which takes the action-thriller premise to space..
She also agreed to appear in Speed 2, so she must have enjoyed the experience of working on the first one, enough to want to do it a second time.
She’s also starred in a fair few action comedies, such as Gun Shy and The Heat.
8. Her friends warned her not to star in Speed
Nowadays, Sandra Bullock is probably best well known for her work on Gravity and Bird Box, but the nineties were a very different landscape.
Undoubtedly, her big break was in 1994, when she starred alongside Keanu Reeves in Speed.
Despite the movie being hugely well-regarded, at the time, no-one in Sandra Bullock’s life encouraged her to go out for the role.
The assumption was that it was a stereotypical female part with little depth or nuance, which couldn’t do her career any favours.
However, she had an instinct when reading the script that she would be able to bring a lot to the role, and her intuition was proven to be correct.
To this day, the role of Annie Porter is responsible for making her a household name, which it similarly did for her costar Keanu Reeves.
7. She very nearly took on the role of Wonder Woman
Nowadays, it’s hard to imagine anyone other than Gal Gadot at the helm of a Wonder Woman movie, but she wasn’t always the only star in contention to take up the whip.
Two decades before Gal Gadot donned the bulletproof bracelets and gold headband in Patty Jenkins’ critically acclaimed 2017 revival, Bullock was attached to the role of Wonder Woman.
Plans to make a Wonder Woman film emerged in the late 1990s at the height of Bullock’s fame, making her the obvious choice for the hero.
However, no projects were ever officially announced or developed, and soon the idea of a Bullock Wonder Woman movie fell out of popular consciousness.
With that said, the character’s originator Lynda Carter was quoted as saying that she thought Bullock would be perfect to take up the role.
Knowing that you have the blessing of one of the most important people in Wonder Woman’s creation must be a pretty good feeling, whether you actually get to play the part or not.
6. She survived a plane crash
We’ve already discussed that Sandra Bullock’s stalker was involved in a rather prominent plane crash, in the middle of Los Angeles.
However, Bullock herself has also been involved in a plane crash, which also involved a small private plane having to attempt an emergency landing.
At Christmastime in the year 2000, the private jet that Bullock and her then-boyfriend were travelling in crash-landed during snowy weather conditions.
Lack of visibility meant that the plane’s pilot missed the landing runway, but thankfully no one was harmed in the crash.
Ironically, just four short years later, Sandra Bullock starred in a movie about a plane crash, called Crash.
Before the crash, she also starred in a screwball romance called Forces of Nature, about two strangers who fall in love when their plane skids off the runway.
5. She dated Ryan Gosling when he was 21 and she was 38
Like many other high-profile actresses, Sandra Bullock mostly runs in circles with other actors and performers.
Therefore, it makes sense that many of her past partners have also been a part of the world of showbiz.
Sandra Bullock dated Tate Donovan, Matthew McConaughey and Ryan Gosling, the latter of whom is 16 years her junior.
Sandra Bullock and Ryan Gosling dated for a year, but kept it fairly quiet so as not to attract unwelcome attention or judgement from others.
One person who did notice was Bullock’s Two Week’s Notice costar Hugh Grant, who wasn’t exactly kind about the match.
He allegedly referred to Gosling as “the child”, and mimicked the sound of a baby crying whenever Bullock spoke to him on the phone.
4. She was the highest-paid actress in the world – twice
The entertainment world is a fickle industry, and no-one stays on the top for long. Many actors never achieve longevity and those that do still fall in and out of relevance.
Despite this, Sandra Bullock has managed to achieve a fairly consistent career, with several high points where she rose right to the very top.
Bullock was the highest-paid actress in the world in 2010, the year she was also chosen as People magazine’s most beautiful woman and one of Time’s 100 most influential people in the world.
2010 was the year that she also won Best Actress at the Oscars for her brilliant performance in The Blind Side.
She became the highest-paid actress for the second time in 2014, the year she picked up her second Best Actress nomination for Gravity.
She also had a mini resurgence in 2018, with both Bird Box and Ocean’s 8 garnering a significant following.
3. She is the only actor to have won an Oscar and a Razzie in the same year
A number of actors have won both Academy Awards and Razzies, the latter of which sarcastically rewards bad films and performances, but Bullock is the only star to have won both in the same year.
Alongside her Best Actress Oscar for The Blind Side in 2010, Bullock also won the Worst Actress Razzie for her performance in All About Steve.
Several other actors have at least been nominated for an Oscar and a Razzie in the same year, even if they didn’t take both wins.
Most recently, Melissa McCarthy was nominated for an Oscar for her portrayal of the real-life celebrity biographer Lee Isreal, while also earning a Razzie nomination for The Happytime Murders.
Eddie Redmayne received a similar kind of treatment, earning an Oscar nomination for his performance as a transgender woman in The Danish Girl.
He was also ‘honoured’ by the Razzies for his performance in Jupiter Ascending, in which he plays a hilariously theatrical villain.
2. She has donated millions of dollars to the American Red Cross
Bullock is a big supporter of the American Red Cross, and has donated $1 million to their work on at least five occasions.
Causes to which Bullock donated include the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, the Haiti earthquake and Hurricane Harvey in Texas.
Her philanthropy has earned her several accolades over the course of her life, though the recognition is obviously not the motivation for her giving.
Most notably, she earned a People’s Choice Award in the category of Favourite Humanitarian, which she collected along with more traditional acting awards in other categories.
Most recently, she donated money in the wake of the 2018 California Wildfires, but she has said in interviews that she is careful to keep most of her giving private.
Still, she has admitted that she has probably given over five million dollars in the years since 2001, and is always trying to do more.
1. She founded her own production company to produce her films
The business-minded star founded a restaurant in Austin, Texas, as well as opening Walton’s Fancy and Staple, which was a combination bakery, florist and restaurant that closed its doors in 2015.
Bullock also owns a production company called Fortis Films which has produced some of the films she starred in, including Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous and All About Steve.
Currently, Sandra Bullock has 16 producer credits to her name, including Gun Shy and Murder by Numbers.
More recently, she produced and starred in Bird Box, the Netflix horror movie that made a huge splash in 2018.
She is currently filming an as-of-yet unnamed project with Nora Fingscheidt, which she will produce.