The Venice Film Festival has brought forth a few fall films that are already generating Oscar hype. One of those movies is the Alfonso Cuarón-directed film Gravity starring George Clooney and Sandra Bullock.
The storyline involves two astronauts who are left adrift after surviving a space shuttle accident. While Clooney is seen in about a third of the film, it is Bullock who carries the rest of the movie by herself.
The 49-year-old actress didn’t seem daunted by the script nor having to carry most of the movie by herself.
“I actually never thought about being alone on screen for such a long time until I started doing press, and everyone asked me if that made me nervous, and then I started panicking,” Bullock shared in a New York Times interview. “I was mostly concerned about the Vomit Comet.”
The Vomit Comet is the training jet that simulates weightlessness with its sharp clamps and deep plunges in the air. It was nicknamed by NASA astronauts.
Bullock’s fear of flying also came into play with this role. She was also involved in a 2000 Wyoming plane crash when the jet missed the runway.
“I convinced myself it was the universe telling me I needed to get over my fear,” The Heat star said. “I said I would do it. I wasn’t happy about it. But I said I would do it.”
Cuarón wound up going in a different direction though. He dropped the Vomit Comet idea and created a 10-foot-by-14-foot box on an empty soundstage with Bullock harnessed into place for hours at a time. A camera was mounted on a robotic arm to shoot around her to make it look like she was floating in darkness.
That isolation was one of the biggest challenges, but a variety of music and sounds were used for inspiration to get her into the scene.
Bullock said, “I was literally acting off of nothing for up to 10 hours a day, with headphones my only connection to Alfonso. We made a catalog of music clips — whale sounds, Radiohead, weird screeching of metal — and I memorized them. I would say, ‘O.K., give me No. 4. That’s not working. Try No. 2. That’s better, that’s getting me to the emotion I need.’”
An emotional 12-minute continuous shot opens the 3-D film, but the subplot is hard for her to explain without spoiling the story.
Bullock teased a bit of the plot, “It’s about rebirth. How do you let go in the worst possible situation so you can have some kind of release and peace? Life is not going to stop coming at you. In the end, you just have to say, ‘I have no control.’ Your time is precious. Are you really going to waste it worrying about this stuff?”
Gravity opens nationwide on Oct. 4.