Family & Companions
One of the top-grossing Hollywood actresses of the 1990s, "America's sweetheart" Sandra Bullock rose to fame with roles as the quintessential yet modern-day version of the girl-next-door: smart, capable, witty; one who triumphs in the face of impossible scenarios. Her can-do energy was at the center of her career breakout as Annie, the spunky passenger on a runaway bus in "Speed" (1994), after which her endearing gutsiness and charm made her a romantic comedy favorite in films like "While You Were Sleeping" (1995) and "Forces of Nature" (1999). At her peak, she was so beloved that she gave even Julia Roberts a run for her money as box office queen. To prove her versatility, Bullock regularly detoured into serious dramas like "Infamous" (2006) and the occasional edge-of-your seat thriller like "Premonition" (2007) or the intense space drama "Gravity" (2012). But with the exception of the Academy Award-winning "Crash" (2002) and her Oscar-winning turn in "The Blind Side" (2009), the actress attracted the most fan devotion for sparkling in comedies like "Miss Congeniality" (2002) and "The Heat" (2013), where she lit up the screen with her quirky personality and earthy, approachable beauty. Seemingly impervious to box-office disappointments and only more respected after a scandalous failed marriage, Bullock remained one of the most commercially viable and beloved actresses in American film.
Bullock was born July 26, 1964 in Arlington, VA. As the daughter of a German opera singer mother and a voice coach father, Bullock was raised around show business, often joining her mother on concert tours of Europe from the time she was very young. She spent most of her preteen years in Nuremburg, Germany, where she sang with a children's choir. By the time the family settled outside Washington, D.C., the teenage Bullock, with her outgoing, vibrant personality, leaned more towards acting. She studied at East Carolina University's drama department in Greenville before moving to New York City to study with Sanford Meisner at the Neighborhood Playhouse in 1986. A well-reviewed off-Broadway performance in 1988 helped Bullock secure an agent and begin her screen career in supporting parts for TV movies like "Bionic Showdown: The Six Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman" (NBC, 1989) and "The Preppie Murder" (ABC, 1989). After snagging her first lead role in the small indie "Who Shot Patakango?" (1989), Bullock's career began to excel and she moved to Los Angeles.
Ironically, Bullock's first major acting gig in Los Angeles was a starring role as ambitious young executive Tess McGill in the New York-set sitcom, "Working Girl" (NBC, 1990), based on the popular film starring Melanie Griffith and Harrison Ford. She co-starred opposite Tate Donovan in the romantic comedy "Love Potion No. 9" (1992) and delivered a superb performance as a cynical feminist artist in the indie film "When the Party's Over" (1992) before getting her first major exposure with "Demolition Man" (1993). Bullock turned heads with her supporting role as a feisty LAPD lieutenant and partner of Sylvester Stallone in the dystopian actioner before turning around to give a lesser-seen but thoroughly charming supporting performance as a quirky Southern belle trying to make it in Nashville in Peter Bogdanovich's "The Thing Called Love" (1993).
But Bullock's first taste of movie stardom came with the blockbuster "Speed" (1994), in which she played Annie, the reluctant but plucky driver of a runaway bus opposite Keanu Reeves. Her innate wit, intelligence and general likeability helped elevate what could have been just a standard testosterone-fueled action picture, allowing her to drive off with the film's best notices. Her palpable onscreen chemistry with the handsome but stoic leading man also served her well, as both she and Reeves became a kind of a screen couple ideal in moviegoer minds, much like Julia Roberts and Richard Gere had four years before with "Pretty Woman" (1990). And like that coupling, it would take years for Reeves and Bullock to reunite onscreen, but fans would never forget their magnetism together.
In a part originally intended for the overpriced Demi Moore, Bullock headlined the romantic comedy "While You Were Sleeping" (1995), earning a Golden Globe nomination for portraying another "regular gal with big dreams" in the surprise hit co-starring Bill Pullman and Peter Gallagher as the other points of a love triangle. Now a full-fledged movie star with a run of hits, she was equally adept as a hapless computer operator stumbling onto a major conspiracy in the thriller "The Net" (1995). Bullock rebounded from the pallid caper comedy "Two If By Sea" (1996) with a dramatic supporting turn as a law student who finds herself attracted to a married Southern lawyer (Matthew McConaughey) she is assisting in Joel Schumacher's "A Time to Kill" (1996), based on the John Grisham bestseller. While she and McConaughey became fast and lasting friends, both denied endless speculation of a romantic relationship. Canoodling tabloid photos surfacing at the time seemed to indicate the opposite, but there was no doubt the two were together on and off for years.
Unfortunately, Richard Attenborough's "In Love and War" (1996), based on the real-life romance between author Ernest Hemingway (Chris O'Donnell) and the nurse he fictionalized in A Farewell to Arms proved a disappointment, with the actress miscast as the slightly older woman. Equally disappointing was the inevitable and ultimately misguided sequel, "Speed 2: Cruise Control" (1997), which teamed Bullock with Jason Patric on a luxury liner taken over by a madman. The absence of Reeves only served to sink the bloated project even further. Despite the high-profile disaster, Bullock was hardly blamed, as she continued to earn a reputation as a fun-loving type who did not suffer fools gladly. Her mixture of brazenness and caginess only served to warm the hearts of audiences who seemed to forgive her anything. She further entrenched herself in Hollywood, by way of her adopted home of Austin, TX, by writing, producing, directing and co-starring opposite co-producer McConaughey in "Making Sandwiches" (1997), a 40-minute short screened at the Sundance Film Festival. As executive producer of the romantic drama "Hope Floats" (1998), she proved she had an eye for the type of Everywoman roles that had earned her kudos in the past, but with an eye toward deepening her appeal with more risky roles for the future. On the power of her name alone, the forgettable drama generated respectable box office receipts.
Later that year, Bullock lent her voice to the character of Miriam in DreamWorks animated biblical tale "The Prince of Egypt" and co-starred with Nicole Kidman as sisters who use witchcraft to solve their romantic problems in "Practical Magic," which she also co-executive produced. Bullock teamed with Ben Affleck in the successful romantic road comedy "Forces of Nature" (1999), but her producing efforts misfired with "Gun Shy" (2000). Neither she nor her co-star Liam Neeson could save the awkward and unfunny crime comedy. She returned to form later that year as a New York writer and party girl sentenced to "28 Days" (2000) of rehab, capably portraying both the hard-to-watch human weakness as well as humor of her addict characterization. Under her Fortis Productions banner, Bullock found time to launch the successful sitcom "George Lopez" in 2002, serving as the series executive producer after discovering Lopez in 2000. She was concerned about the lack of Hispanic-oriented sitcoms on American television and pushed to get a show on air starring Hispanics without being exclusively about their ethnicity. The show was a huge success for everyone involved and enjoyed a five year run. Back on the big screen, she impressed moviegoers with a turn as a tomboyish streetwise FBI agent posing as a polished beauty queen in the hit comedy "Miss Congeniality" (2002). Paired with Benjamin Bratt, Bullock further proved a delightful comedienne, flaunting her character's newfound grace with the appropriate gracelessness and earning another Golden Globe nomination in the process.
Playing a different type of law enforcement agent, Bullock starred as a homicide detective in the psychological thriller "Murder by Numbers" (2002) and returned to lighter fare as a Southern playwright in the film adaptation of the bestseller "Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood" (2002). She next went back to her romantic comedy roots, producing and starring with Hugh Grant in the underwhelming "Two Weeks Notice" (2002) as the aide-de-camp to a reckless mogul who does not appreciate the doting care she gives him. At this point in her career, Bullock was entering dangerous Doris Day territory, playing winsome, klutzy roles that were better suited for someone younger. However, her very brief turn in the racially charged, multi-plot drama "Crash" (2005) was a step in the right direction, with Bullock playing a middle-aged L.A. woman of privilege who, after a traumatic carjacking, angrily acts out on all of her worst prejudices and racial fears. The film went on to earn Best Picture of the Year at the Academy Awards.
In 2005, the sweetheart who had romanced some of her handsome co-stars - including McConaughey, one-time fiancé Tate Donovan whom she dated for four years, and the younger Ryan Gosling whom she met on the set of "Murder by Numbers" - seemed to finally find her soulmate in an unlikely, tattooed match. In July 2005, she married motorcycle icon Jesse James after dating for two years, surprising fans by becoming a stepmother to James' daughter from a previous marriage. While her personal life was better than ever, she revived one of her biggest comedy hits with the sequel "Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous" (2005), this time posing as a Las Vegas showgirl. While not as big a hit as its predecessor, it returned respectable box office. Taking a more serious turn, she portrayed author Harper Lee, friend of Truman Capote (Toby Jones), in the biopic "Infamous" (2006). Unfortunately, the film suffered from being released too close to a similar project on the infamous writer, "Capote" (2005). To the delight of filmgoing romantics everywhere, Bullock reunited with "Speed" co-star Reeves after 12 years in the romantic drama "The Lake House" (2006). Many thought the film about strangers who fall in love via letters they exchange through a mailbox that mysteriously bridges time an odd choice for their onscreen reunion, but the film was nevertheless a moderate success. In "Premonition" (2007), Bullock held up an otherwise mediocre thriller with her strong performance as a wife and mother living the perfect domestic life but nonetheless driven mad by foreknowledge of impending events, including the tragic death of her husband (Julian McMahon) in a car accident.
Showing no signs of leaving her comedy career behind, Bullock brought the appropriate befuddled exasperation to her starring role as a book editor who marries her Canadian assistant (Ryan Reynolds) to facilitate his legal status but has to then maintain the appearance of a real married couple in "The Proposal" (2009). She returned to the producer's chair with another comedy, "All About Steve" (2009), in which she also portrayed an obnoxious romantic suitor whose wooing efforts border on stalking. Unfortunately, the film was a financial and critical bomb, leading many to question if Bullock's career could survive a project that most deemed an utter embarrassment. To make things more difficult, she and James petitioned the court to gain permanent custody of James' daughter, Sunny, after the child's mother, former porn star Janine Lindemulder, was arrested and jailed six months for tax evasion. At least on Lindemulder's side, the battle played out in the press, as the adult movie actress accused "America's sweetheart" of ulterior motives. For her part, Bullock and James let the lawyers do the talking. By the end of an eventful year, the critical reception for Bullock's third release of 2009, "The Blind Side" was decidingly more positive than it had been for her previous two romantic comedies. With a southern accent and dyed blonde hair, Bullock sparkled in the feel-good biopic of a southern family who takes in a homeless African-American youngster and ultimately helps him fulfill his potential as an all-American football star.
Despite taking a critical beating for "All About Steve" earlier in the year, Bullock had the last laugh, earning two Golden Globe nominations in late 2009 for Best Actress one for comedy ("The Proposal") and one for drama ("The Blind Side"), she would win the latter. She also earned a Screen Actors Guild award for "The Blind Side," a precursor to an inevitable Oscar nod. Ironically, the same day Bullock heard the news of an Oscar nomination for "The Blind Side," she also received a Razzie nod for worst actress in "All About Steve." In an odd twist of fate, she would go on to win both awards. Unfortunately, Bullock's post-Oscar glow was short-lived, when only a week and a half after tearfully thanking husband James from the podium for his love and support, In Touch Weekly broke the story that he had reportedly cheated on her with a tattoo model while she had been out of state filming "The Blind Side." Bullock went into hiding, canceling her European appearances to promote the film, while James issued a public apology of sorts, saying "There is only one person to blame for this whole situation, and that is me." The infidelity scandal mushroomed into a media firestorm, leading one outlet to declare James "the most hated man in America." After over a month of lying low, Bullock filed for divorce in late April, as well as letting the world in on an extremely well kept secret: that she had adopted a three-month-old baby boy named Louis Bardo Bullock and would now be raising him alone as a single mom.
After two years away from cinema screens, Bullock returned in the emotional drama "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close" (2011), in which she played the grieving mother of a young boy (Thomas Horn) searching for a lock that would match the mysterious key left to him by his father (Tom Hanks), who died in the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks. In 2013, she returned with the wacky Paul Feig-directed action/comedy movie "The Heat," a riff on the buddy-cop theme co-starring Melissa McCarthy. She followed this with a considerable change of pace as one of the leads, along with George Clooney, in Alfonso Cuarón's pensive sci-fi drama "Gravity." This powerful film was a huge critical and commercial success, becoming the highest-grossing October release of all time and garnering enormous awards buzz for Bullock's emotionally-charged performance as a stranded astronaut. After a brief break from the screen, Bullock returned with a campy voiceover role as the villainous Scarlet Overkill in the animated hit "Minions" (2015) and a leading role in political comedy-drama "Our Brand Is Crisis" (2015), which suffered from mixed reviews and poor box office.
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Producer (Feature Film)
Music (Feature Film)
Misc. Crew (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
Began performing at age eight while traveling with her mother on her opera tours
Had a one-line role in her film debut, "Hangmen"
Praised by critic John Simon for her off-Broadway performance in "No Time Flat"
Landed first leading role in a film, "Who Shot Patakango?"
Made TV acting debut in "Bionic Showdown: The Six Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman" (NBC)
Made TV series debut, playing Tess McGill on the short-lived NBC sitcom "Working Girl"
Offered a superb turn as cynical feminist artist in "When the Party's Over"
Portrayed an aspiring country Western singer in "This Thing Called Love"; film debut as singer
Gained a wider following as Sylvester Stallone's partner in "Demolition Man"
Landed breakthrough screen role as Annie, the woman recruited by Keanu Reeves' character to drive a bomb-planted bus in "Speed"
Starred in techno thriller "The Net"
Landed first starring role in the surprise hit romantic comedy, "While You Were Sleeping"
Played a supporting role opposite Matthew McConaughey in "A Time to Kill"
Reprised breakthrough role in the disappointing sequel "Speed 2: Cruise Control"
Signed three-year production deal at Warner Bros.
Wrote, co-produced (with Matthew McConaughey), directed and starred in the 40-minute short "Making Sandwiches"
Co-starred with Nicole Kidman as sisters practicing witchcraft in "Practical Magic"; also executive produced with McLaglen
Co-executive produced (with Mary McLaglen) and starred in "Hope Floats"
Teamed with Ben Affleck in "Forces of Nature"
Starred as a party-loving writer who undergoes rehab in the comedy "28 Days"
Played an FBI agent who goes undercover at a beauty pageant in "Miss Congeniality"
Made a cameo role as herself in "Lisa Picard Is Famous"
Cast as an FBI profiler in "Murder by Numbers"; also produced the film
Played one of the female leads in the feature adaptation of "Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood"
Received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (March)
Reprised the role of an FBI agent in "Miss Congeniality: Armed and Fabulous"
Played a supporting role in Paul Haggis' directorial debut "Crash"
Portrayed author Harper Lee in the Truman Capote biopic "Infamous"
Co-starred with Keanu Reeves in "The Lake House," a remake of the enchanting Korean film "Il Mare" (2000)
Starred in the psychological thriller "Premonition"
Co-starred with Ryan Reynolds in the comedy "The Proposal"; also served as a producer
Co-starred with Bradley Cooper in the comedy "All About Steve"; also served as a producer
Portrayed Leigh Anne Tuohy in the film adaptation of "The Blind Side"; based on the 2006 book by Michael Lewis
Co-starred with Tom Hanks and newcomer Thomas Horn in the 9/11 drama "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close," based on Jonathan Safran Foer's 2005 novel
Featured in the cop comedy "The Heat" with Melissa McCarthy
Starred in the meditative sci-fi movie "Gravity" with George Clooney
Played villainous Scarlet Overkill in animated hit "Minions"
Starred in political comedy-drama "Our Brand Is Crisis"
Played Malorie in the dystopian drama "Bird Box"
Co-starred in the female-driven "Ocean's" ensemble spinoff "Ocean's Eight"