Phase9 Entertainment


Sandra Bullock plays Gracie Hart

You guys had so much fun with this film.

We did. We worked our asses off - we worked really hard, but we had a great time. The minute we got on set was when we had our fun. The same audience we made it for the first time is the same audience we made it for the second time, and sometimes adults have to just remember who they were when they were younger and let go and have a good time. I said exactly what I wanted to say.

What did you want to say?

It says it at the end of the film, so you have to go see it, but what is the thing that happens to most people when they come into society's limelight? What happens to people who accomplish something - whether they meant to or not - what does that industry do to people unbeknownst to them? They get caught up in it and make you doubt who you were originally and we find ourselves conforming and trying to highlight our hair, and make this cuter, and build up here. Then by the end of the trek, you realize the person that started out is not the person that you wound up being. So there are a lot of comments about what would have happened to Gracie if all of a sudden the TV cameras had been filming and what does the world do with someone like that? Everyone has their 15 minutes and you watch that person's 15 minutes and their lives go to hell afterwards. Like anyone who wins the lottery, everything falls to pieces.

Is it comfortable to return to a character that you've played before?

We never really left it because Marc Lawrence, who wrote it, and I have been working together for five years now so we're always talking Gracie and making Gracie-isms, and then that sort of built into really good ideas. We would talk about the ideas and what would happen, what is the message we can build on? It's strange - you come back to something and you wonder, "Now, what would Gracie do in this situation versus new Gracie versus Sandy?" It's schizophrenic.

I have a couple of shallow questions.

Oh please - yeah, not that I'm going to answer them, but you go right a head.

A couple of wardrobe questions.

Thank God - I love talking clothes.

What's going on with that green sweater?

Ida's sweater?

It was Ida's sweater at the airport.

Ida Flammenbaum's sweater. That's Ida's sweater. If you notice, that's what Ida was wearing when she went to the old age home.

I was thinking, "Wait a minute she has three breasts."

No, those were Ida's breasts. Those were carefully orchestrated and they built boobs that needed to have swing value and needed to be able to raise and lower according to the humor factor - like when you're in a fight, your breasts get in the way when you fight. See, men don't have to think about that. When we women get into fights, we have to think about how the breasts will get in the way, and that's sort of what that whole scene was based on.

This was at the airport?

Yes, I'm talking about the fight scene in the airport.

I thought it was her shoulder pads that fell down.

No sister. Those are the breasts.

What was it like to work with Marc Lawrence again?

So many things work. So many things don't, but that's why we like working together. His wife suggested we go to therapy, which we're thinking about. (laughter) He also directed TWO WEEKS NOTICE and wrote it and I produced him as a first-time director, and I produced him as a writer, and we produce together. For some reason, the collaboration can grow as we grow. And we disagree all the time, but we know how to disagree and we know how to fight and we know when to relinquish. When it comes to music, we disagree and disagree until we find the right thing. Sometimes I say, okay, yours can win, but I'd like to win over here. We've really developed a good fighting technique for what we want, which in the end is the same thing. We both want an entertaining, good movie that makes people laugh and affects the same audience that we had the first time around. We both get that, and as long as you get that and the most important thing is the project then you're always fine to work in a collaborative relationship with someone.

Can you talk about Gracie's evolution?

If you saw the first film, she was the same way. When Gracie wakes up and does her job, she wants to obey the rules; she wants to take the orders - that's her job. She's not the captain, she's an FBI agent who goes undercover and that's her job. The reason she can't take much from Sam is because she's told not to fight, because now you're the face of the FBI. You have to act like a lady, and this is what you have to do, and your wings have been clipped. It's an interesting situation when someone is forced into a shape that is not them, but they feel that's their only option and the only way that she can do anything is to be the face of the FBI. She's not allowed to go undercover anymore and do what she knows. The only option she has is to abide by the rules, then she's faced with who she used to be at the very beginning, and how do you deal with the fact that she has to look at herself? But, she can also see what didn't work with who she used to be, and she can also see what can be changed about Sam, that she can help Sam learn, and Sam can help her learn about who she used to be. I wanted to put her in the most difficult situations in life and see how she would react to them. And sometimes it's not pretty. We're not always going to react in a way that everyone wants to see someone react, and I wanted to really push that and show this is what happens to a lot of people when the media gets a hold of them. They doubt who they are, when they're not secure in their abilities, and if people are constantly throwing things at them like, "You're not good at your job. You can't do it anymore." If someone said to you, "You can't write anymore. You can't be a journalist anymore. You can't do that anymore." and that's all you've done all your life, what do you do? It's that sort of thing - it's comedy. It's MISS CONGENIALITY Part 2!

Did you ever have anybody like Diedrich's character tell what you had to wear?

Are you kidding? This entire industry is full of them - the fashion experts. People tell you that you look good in something, and it's not something you spend your life thinking about. Then you listen to an "expert" and think maybe they're right and then you get into public and your picture's taken and you say, "What were you thinking?" It becomes more about them representing themselves on your body rather than you being who you are in a comfortable, cool outfit.

Do you snort when you laugh?

Sometimes, if it's a really good laugh. My reasoning behind it is that when you laugh you expend the air, and you need to get it back in. Sometimes it's comes through the mouth and sometimes it comes through the nose. And when it comes through the nose, it's a snort.

I sometimes snort when I laugh.

Yeah, not all the time. But, it feels good, doesn't it?

Is it problematic?

Well, if it's a problem for someone then they just need to not be around me. It does attract attention. After you've done it, the room kind of quiets down then you realize, "How do I get out of this?" but, you know, it's like when your chair makes that little noise that we all know, and you try to repeat it all the time to prove that it didn't come from you body. That's kind of what it is.

What were you voted in high school?

I don't know whether it was Class Clown or Most Likely to Brighten Your Day. There's been a lot of speculation as to which one it is. Oddly, I can't remember because I was voted some other things as well that I'm not as proud of. (laughter) So it's one of those two.

Were you the most likely to brighten people's day back then?

You know, you're asking the wrong person. Go back and ask the high school kids I hung out with. I can give you a couple phone numbers of people I still keep in touch with, but, yes, I was rather perky. I think it goes back to the theory that you can deflect drama and tension with humor, and I think I did a lot of that in high school. I did a lot of class clowning in order to connect the masses of cliques that existed. You know, if you feel like you're on the outside, what better way than to get on the inside but to make people laugh. I think that a lot of that had to do with wanting to fit in.

Why take on a producer's role as well instead of just taking on projects and trusting the folks behind the scenes?

I do that now as well. I find projects now and will only act in projects where I trust every single aspect. In the end, it still doesn't guarantee that it'll be a success, but if you're happy with all the artisans behind the camera and you trust them - it's about the process. The end result you really can't do anything about except for go out and sell, and say, "Go see this movie or don't go see this movie." Can you imagine if someone said, "Do not go see this film." I was producing before I was actually acting in a lot of theater, and I love the collaborative side of it. You know, I grew up with parents who were opera singers and I was left backstage in Europe, and you're with the wardrobe mistresses, and the directors, and you sort of see that there's a great camaraderie, and a joy, and a great energy of being able to develop the script. Then go on location scouts for weeks and find the house that had been written for so long in this script that matches what you want to see. And then, "Can we get the house? If we can't get the house, can we build half the house on this hill, and build the other half in the stage?" And then come the logistics. But, I like hanging out and having table meetings like this where you just sort of knock ideas around and watching people be creative and letting them do what they do. I mean, the best thing about producing is delegating. Hire the best and let them do what they do, and just make sure you come in on budget, and move around money and show up.

What kind of creative energy do you take from those types of experiences and that material as well with Paul Haggis?

Well, again, as an actor you have to go in and trust your director. You just have to. In the end we take the heat when it doesn't work, but my job is to go in, do my homework, argue when I think it's time to argue for the character, and then, for the most part you have to trust the director. Working with Paul Haggis was the reason I started working again. I took a year off; it became a year and two months, year and three months, year and six months. I was like, "I have no desire to act right now." There wasn't anything life changing. I didn't want to do what I used to do, but I love producing. I'll just keep doing that and if something comes along, and this something that came along was CRASH. And when I got it and you read a story like that (he also wrote MILLION DOLLAR BABY), you think, "These two scripts were so well written and now the guy who wrote them is going to direct." I said, "I'll do whatever you want me to do. I want to be a part of this film." It was incredible. Paul gets every script I get and every book, and we keep talking about, "What can we do next together?" His vision is in the stories that he wants to tell, I trust him 100 percent in how he would tell them.

As a kid, what inspired you to develop the parts of yourself to reach for the stars?

In our household there was no Hollywood, no star reaching. I came from parents who were opera singers and traveled back and forth to Europe. I was raised in a house full of a lot of big voices who are artists, who worked their asses off, who were part of a dying craft - that's how we were raised. You respected your craft. We weren't allowed to watch TV (I did watch Carol Burnett). The only magazine we had in our house was 'Newsweek'. I didn't know what a 'People' was, what a tabloid was. I didn't know what any of that was until I think I got into college. So, when I realized I wanted to be an actor, I assumed I would go to a school of the arts. I assumed I would then go to New York, which, you know, I went to New York and studied, and then the television and movie world came into play. I was doing theater. I didn't reach for the stars in terms of "I'm going to be a star or a starlet or on the cover of a magazine." That didn't exist in our household so I didn't know to dream of it. Now you can't turn on a TV or a radio without seeing it and so that's why kids now are reaching for the stars or reaching to be a celebrity, but that didn't exist in our household. My dad said "If you're going to do it, do it 100 percent and then we'll support you - whatever your craft is."

Did the discipline of ballet help you once you got into acting?

I hated ballet, and I hated it because my great teacher was German and would discipline me in German in front of all the American kids. So, that was a problem. I wanted to do jazz, and I wanted to do hip hop. When I was taking piano, I didn't want to play classical, I wanted to play ragtime, I wanted to play something with more rhythm. Once I discovered jazz and Alvin Ailey and all that kind of stuff I, I realized there was a way for me to still dance, but dance to a rhythm that made more sense to me. But, I think any kind of dance or movement or connection with your body I think is really important for someone who's younger. In Germany, we had movement classes. You moved to different rhythms, or congas or drums just to find out where your body went. If your right arm went here you can pull it back and make your left arm do something, and I think we're so disconnected from our bodies, and it's a very sensual connector for us. I think if you understand music and dance and rhythm, there's something that connects you to yourself.

Do you remember your first professional acting job?

My first professional acting job was in the opera with my mother. It was an opera I believe was called "The Gypsy Baron" and I played a gypsy child, and I got paid in schillings, so that was my first paying job. Then I did musical theater with some of my dad's opera students and got paid for that. That's where I got my big break.

Can you tell us why people should buy the MISS CONGENIALITY DVD that's coming out soon?

The fun thing now about filming is that you have so many other entities covering you while you're filming. We have our EPK crew, which films how a scene is made. You have your outtakes. You have scenes that don't end up in the film because we can't have a five-hour film. Now it gives you a fun outlet to see what didn't make it in there. I think it's appropriate for some films and not appropriate for others. For something like MISS CONGENIALITY, if it will make you laugh, you will get enjoyment out of things that you didn't see. Now you can see scenes that were cut and can revisit those on the DVD. And, we also included the soundtrack for MISS CONGENIALITY Part 2 which I put together, and with our music supervisor John Houlihan, which I love, and soundtracks, bless their hearts, are having such a hard time. So instead of selling it I said, "Just incorporate it as sort of a sneak peak into the energy that you'll get into the second film and you can have it with you and throw it in your car." It's something that sort of reminds you of the film and I love it. It's like any Jim Carrey movie, I pray that there's outtakes at the end. You just want to see how he screwed up and it's genius. I love that aspect of the whole DVD empire. I think it's a good way to revisit those things.

What is the sneak peak of EVERY WORD IS TRUE?

It's the world of Truman Capote when he went to research for IN COLD BLOOD down in Kansas and subsequently in New York while he was writing it. It's about what happened to the killers and how that sort of took over his life and when his life started spiraling down. It's a very sad but beautiful look into this world that was this man, who was an icon, and not many people know the story of what happened when we went down to Kansas. I play Nelle Harper Lee, who he was friends with since they were in kindergarten in Monroeville. A lot of people didn't know that either. She wrote TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD and they knew each other, and she used to beat people up for him in school and protect him. She went with him on the whole trip. Toby Jones plays Truman. When Doug McGrath, the director, started going through the microfiche and all of Truman's real files, we started noticing a discrepancy in the handwritten notes versus the typed notes. We started figuring out that in the typed notes they said, "When T and I...," it was Nelle's notes. She documented his many notes, about two inches thick, of typed, meticulous notes for his research. He would do the interviewing and she would quietly sit and remember certain aspects for him. It's a great story about these two friends. Eventually they stopped speaking about 20 years before his death and we don't know why. She's still alive in Monroeville, and she's this wonderful woman who chose not to be in the public eye. She's one of the few people that went to his funeral. It's a beautifully done film.

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