Pretend for a moment that you are a world-famous movie star. You’re lighting cigars with hundred-dollar bills, bathing in Evian water, filling up your car with premium. Somebody comes along and offers a boatload of dough for a sequel, and you sign on the dotted line. Then, later realizing that you have to deliver said movie, you remember that millions of people adore your every mannerism. Now you’re beginning to see why the line separating actor and character can sometimes get a bit blurry.
“I snort,” confessed Sandra Bullock, producer and star of “Miss Congeniality 2.” “I snort, and I trip. Yup … there are some elements that are very similar.”
Five years ago, moviegoers fell in love with Gracie Hart to the tune of more than $100 million domestically. This time around, watching Sandra Bullock as the tough, sweet-faced tomboy who just happens to battle bad guys for the FBI, it’s hard to avoid thinking that the actress and the character have developed a symbiotic link straight out of a Charlie Kaufman script.
Self-deprecating sense of humor? A tendency to trip over her own feet? A well-documented history of love and love lost and a famous face that gets in the way of her everyday life? Who exactly are we talking about?
“Marc Lawrence, the writer, and I said, after a year, what are some things that would have happened to someone like Gracie, who was an undercover agent that thwarted a bomb threat and saved Miss United States and it was all caught on camera?” remembered Bullock who, eerily, also looks a great deal like Gracie. “Well, she can’t go undercover anymore, because cameras know her now. She’s been all over the news, and all the talk shows want her.”
Some actors have trouble immersing themselves in a film’s world, but co-star Enrique Murciano recalled that all you had to do was look around. “When you’re working with Sandy, you realize you’re working with a Beatle. We were shooting in Vegas, and people just get crazy around her. She’s so open and so sweet and so personable, people think they just have permission to approach her and hug her and grab her and kiss her. ’I love you, Sandy. I love you!’ The character that she plays, Gracie Hart, and some of the things she goes through mirror who she is in real life.”
When Gracie tries to get back to business, she gets frustrated by her adoring public. When Bullock tries to attend to her business, it’s the same story.
“The worst thing that ever happened was when I was in a toilet stall at a club, and a camera came in underneath,” she remembered. “A still camera. I did one of these [mimics blocking a camera], and I think I got everything covered pretty much, but you just go, ’Oh my God. Do you think I won’t just swing this stall door open and clock you one?’ ”
Strong talk from a woman who obviously takes pride in being able to kick some butt. She’s so tough, in fact, that maybe in another life she’ll become … an FBI agent? “Sandy’s in fantastic shape,” laughed Murciano. “I’m afraid.”
Regina King, the new partner for both Bullock and Gracie, said that they had a blast beating the snot out of each other whenever the script called for it. “For both of us, I think, there were moments when we were like, ’Are you OK?’ But if you’re not going for it and trying to make it look real, then it’s not going to come across that way. We both had some bruises to show that we were really doing our thing.”
Bullock conceded that it is difficult to tell where truth ends and fiction begins as you watch Gracie snorting, tripping, dodging groupies or beating up Regina King. Once the camera stops rolling, however, she insists that there is a point where the two part ways. “I’m not as cool as she is,” Bullock offered. “I’m not as free in my thinking and I’m not as unworried about what other people think and what society thinks as she is, but I aspire to it.”
Splitting the two once and for all, Murciano offered one description that will never fit Gracie Hart. “She’s the girl next door,” he laughed, “that just happens to be as powerful as Jerry Bruckheimer.” Bring on the Evian!
Check out everything we’ve got on “Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous.”
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