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Inside ‘All About Steve’

Thomas Haden Church, Sandra Bullock and Bradley Cooper in ‘All About Steve.’All About Steve

© Fox 2000

Sandra Bullock plays Mary Horowitz, a crossword puzzle constructor who goes out on a blind date with Steve (Bradley Cooper), a TV news cameraman, and thinks they’ve really hit it off in the comedy movie All About Steve. With the on-air reporter (Thomas Haden Church) egging her on, Mary leaves her job behind to chase after Steve, as Steve and the TV crew chase after big stories.

A twisted comedy (Bullock says it’s not a rom-com) about a woman who thinks she needs to change to make herself fit in, All About Steve was produced by Bullock, written by Kim Barker, and directed by Phil Traill.

 

Sandra Bullock, Bradley Cooper, Thomas Haden Church and Ken Jeong Press Conference:

Sandra, did you have a lot of input into your character’s look, with her clothing, hair and boots? What kind of voice did you have in that?

Sandra Bullock: “A loud one. It’s an amalgamation of our writer, Kimberly Barker, and a 3 ½-year-old little girl that I spend a lot of time with. There was the shag hair-cut. We’d try things on and they wouldn’t work, but oddly, that worked. There was the evolution of the red boot. The boot was written as a red boot, but there are so many different ways to go with a red boot, as we women know. But, that was the right way to go, and that was $14.95, off of Shoe.com. It was genius. I had an idea of what her body felt like and what she was going to look like, but that’s how it came together.”

Why did you choose blonde hair?

Sandra Bullock: “Why not? I saw Mary that way. Kim Barker looks very much like that. I don’t think she would wear the red boots, but she has that shaggy blonde hair. And the 3 ½-year-old that I love so much is very much like that. When I read it, I didn’t see me. You read something and you go, ‘If I were me in it, it wouldn’t have the same lightness and sweetness.’ I didn’t think you could suspend your belief as easily, unless I went, ‘Okay, wipe out everything you know of me, as much as you can, and here’s this sweet person, based on several people that I think are pretty amazing and special.’ It’s just what comes to you.”

How did you relate to your character? Did you have anything in common?

Sandra Bullock: “Yeah, very much so. It’s that part of us that we’re told to lose once we become an adult. It’s that freedom of expression, joy, excitement and innocence. I had a lisp that I had to get rid of, and I had to have speech therapy. I just go, ‘Why? Why did I need to get rid of a lisp?’ It’s that whole, ‘What is normal?’ thing. Why can’t we embrace adults like her? We’re very excited to embrace children like that, but we don’t trust adults who are naive, kind and happy. We want that jaded, cynical and street wise. Why is that?”

Ken Jeong: “In a similar way, my character was a parallel because he was brand new to the job of producer. He was very intimidated by Steve and Hartman Hughes, so there was a little bit of an arc where I felt like, towards the end, he’s coming out of his shell too. I was consciously trying to do that. And, it was great because it wasn’t unlike actually working with them. They’re all so great. It was the second movie I had ever done, and I was so nervous, being around them. I was naturally intimidated, in a good way. I was like, ‘Instead of fighting that, just embrace that and use that for the character.'”

Sandra, your character is the Queen of Trivia. What was that like to play?

  Sandra Bullock: “My head is filled with so much crap, or facts that I find important, but that some others don’t. Kim Barker’s train of thought is brilliant, in the knowledge of things that she has. She’s brilliant. All the knowledge that I have doesn’t necessarily make me brilliant, but I love acquiring knowledge and then sharing it with everybody else. I love trivia. I love the knowledge of stuff, and I get very excited about it, very much like Mary Horowitz.”

What kind of preparation did you do to play members of the media?

Bradley Cooper: “I shadowed an NBC field cameraman, and I actually learned a lot of little tidbits and terms that they used. It was very beneficial.”

Sandra Bullock: “He was good at it. A lot of the on-camera stuff that he shot with Hartman Hughes, we used.”

Thomas Haden Church: “I learned Spanish.”

Bradley Cooper: “Which I always thought was odd.”

Thomas Haden Church: “When I was supposed to be learning my dialogue, I chose Spanish instead. It really had very little to do with the movie. It was just one of those things. I’ve always wanted to be able to speak Spanish.”

Ken Jeong: “It helped with the Vasquez line.”

Thomas Haden Church: “Yeah! I was able to nail that. There was an authenticity there. If I had tried to say Vasquez when I was Spider-Man 3, it would have come out very different.”

  Ken Jeong: “It would have turned into sand.”

  Thomas Haden Church: “Yeah, exactly!”

Sandra, your character is at peace with all of her flaws by the end of the film. Do you have any flaws that you’re at peace with now?

Sandra Bullock: “We think we have all these flaws, but Mary Horowitz didn’t think she was flawed. Society made her feel flawed and question how she lived her life. She questioned it and made everything all about Steve, thinking, ‘I must go on this path because that’s what society says,’ and she realized it wasn’t right for her. But, she met others like her that validated that they aren’t flaws. They are unique traits that make special human beings. Why is it that young boys and men are unique and eccentric and are mavericks when they’re different, but women are odd when we are eccentric or different? What would I wish someone would have said to me at 12, or 8 when I had my speech impediment? What do I want to say to little girls that I know? I keep saying, ‘Don’t change. Be who you are,’ but society is really strong in their opinions. So, I’ve made peace with the fact that the things that I thought were weaknesses or flaws were just me, and I like them. But, it took me awhile to figure it out.”

Sandra, what was one of the funniest or most surprising things that happened on set?

All About Steve

Thomas Haden Church, Bradley Cooper and Ken Jeong in ‘All About Steve.’

© Fox 2000

Sandra Bullock: “Ken Jeong getting naked, which now apparently he’s doing in every film he’s in. It was a hard shoot because it was 112 degrees, and we had to accomplish a lot. Our director, Phil Traill, will tell you that it was very ambitious. You had to balance that tone. All of us come from a different comedic style, but I was surprised at how well it worked. If we wanted to improvise or go off book, it happened. And, I was surprised at how well these three got along. It was a little scary, how well they got along. I was surprised at how effortless it was when they were together.”

Bradley Cooper: “Who would have thought that six months or a year later, Ken Jeong would be naked on my neck as Mr. Chow in The Hangover.”

Was this statement on media hype one of the reasons you joined the project?

Bradley Cooper: “I chose to audition for the movie to be able to work with Sandra Bullock, primarily. And, I liked the story. And then I met Phil Traill on the audition and I really liked him. And then, I was lucky enough to get the job.”

Thomas Haden Church: “I also wanted to work with Sandy. That was the breadth of my interest in the movie. No. The fact that the story exposes the manufacturing of drama in the media [appealed to me]. Bradley made a comment a couple of days ago about how it’s over-taking prime-time television, in terms of this entertainment fascination factor, which is so true. The movie is coming out now, with all of the hype surrounding the National Health Plan and Cash for Clunkers. Every single news item becomes a shark frenzy. And then whenever the next thing comes up, it’s completely over. They’re pouring hypoxia in car engines. Those are the clunkers.”

Bradley Cooper: “Breaking news is a thing that’s on TV all day. 10 or 15 years ago, breaking news would get everybody around the table because it was going to be something huge.”

Ken Jeong: “Now, it’s anything but breaking.”

Thomas Haden Church: “Rick Sanchez is talking about one thing, and tweeting his ass off to people in Columbia, and the whole time they’re running all these other things across the bottom of the screen. Like, ‘Walter Cronkite died,’ but that’s just zipping by.”

Bradley, you’ve had such a great summer with the success of The Hangover turning you into one of Hollywood’s leading men. How are you dealing with all of the attention?

Bradley Cooper: “There’s no attention. Other than promoting the movie, that’s about it. There’s no real difference. I haven’t noticed that big of a difference.”

The paparazzi isn’t following you around?

Bradley Cooper: “Occasionally, yeah.”

Will you be doing The Hangover 2?

Bradley Cooper: “I think so, yeah. It looks like it.”

Sandra Bullock: “Really?”

Bradley Cooper: “Yeah. You say that as if it’s a bad thing, like, ‘Oh, God, no!'”

Sandra Bullock: “You didn’t learn your lesson, the first time around?”

Bradley Cooper: “I think Warner Bros. would like to find out.”

Sandra Bullock: “I’d like to see it.”

Bradley Cooper: “We’re actually really excited about doing the second one. We were talking about it while we were filming the first one because we were having so much fun. And then, Warner Bros. actually wanted to do it before it even came out. It will be cool.”

Sandra Bullock: “Can I be in it?”

Bradley Cooper: “Absolutely! We’re gonna hold you to that, though.”

Sandra Bullock: “I’m trying to think of who I would play.”

Ken Jeong: “Mrs. Chow.”

Bradley Cooper: “That would be phenomenal!”

Sandra Bullock: “Oh, my God! That would be fantastic!”

Bradley Cooper: “You don’t talk, ever.”

Sandra Bullock: “But I do jump on people’s heads naked, like my husband.”

There is a lot of great, quirky, off-beat humor in this film. Was that on the page?

Sandra Bullock: “It was the stuff that would come out of Kim Barker’s mind, and she was on set all the time. If something was brilliant on the page, but we couldn’t make it work within the scenario that we were playing, at that moment, she would write something else just as brilliant. We’d go, ‘Okay, Kim, it’s about rocks. We have rocks here. We need it to be metaphysical, but Bradley’s got this funny sound.’ And she’d go, ‘Okay, hold on, just a second,’ and she would spit out a page of thoughts and knowledge, and I don’t know where she gets it.”

Bradley Cooper: “She was incredible.”

Sandra Bullock: “I think we were all on the same page of what it shouldn’t be. We’d push the envelope, every once in awhile, and then you’d go, ‘Oh, that’s not so good,’ and Phil would pull us back. You know when it’s not working. It’s very specific humor, but it had to be very real and emotional to make it worth the journey. If we went to broad and crazy, the pay-off wouldn’t have been there at the end.”

Sandra, you and Thomas both live in Texas. Had your paths ever crossed before this?

Sandra Bullock: “We tried not to.”

Thomas Haden Church: “Absolutely not.”

Sandra Bullock: “When we wanted to go out to Thomas [for the role], someone said, ‘He lives in Austin.’ I was like, ‘Really?’ And they said, ‘Oh, yeah, he lives in Texas,’ and I said, ‘Just ‘cause someone lives in Texas doesn’t mean he lives in Austin.’ We found out he’s nowhere near Austin. He’s on some farm with pigs and cows.”

Thomas Haden Church: “I had a Twitter follower named Bullock, and I was afraid it was Sandra.”

Sandra Bullock: “Did you really? No. You don’t go on Twitter.”

Thomas Haden Church: “No, I don’t. I don’t tweet.”

Thomas, did you base your character on any news people that you saw, like maybe Geraldo Rivera?

Thomas Haden Church: “You saw Hartman Hughes as a Puerto Rican Jew? I didn’t even dig that deep. Honestly, I really did not. In my early conversations, when we got into rehearsal with Phil, Kim, Sandy, Bradley and Ken, we just talked about how the guy was gonna look. Sandy and Phil, everybody was like, ‘He’s just gotta be super-blonde and super-tan.’ Nothing else mattered. That’s all I had in my head. And, I think we succeeded. We completed that mission.”

All About Steve

Sandra Bullock and Bradley Cooper in ‘All About Steve.’

© Fox 2000

Sandra, how difficult was it for you to remember all of this dialogue?

Sandra Bullock: “What’s weird, and most actors will probably attest to it, is that when you have a full page of well-written dialogue that has a thought process to it, it is pretty easy to memorize. It’s a lot easier to memorize than if you’re in a scene and other people are talking, and you have maybe one word or one sentence that you have to interject at the right time and in a natural way. The one-page monologue is far easier to memorize. And, because Kim and I are frenetically the same with the way that we spew out information, her writing [was easy to remember]. When I want to get information across, it’s like the firing of pistons. One goes off, and it sets another one off, and I just can’t stop. I have to explain everything and get it out of my head and she’s that way too, so I felt very comfortable with that rhythm. And we matched it up with the physicality or running after them or chasing, or something. She just wrote in a rhythm that made a lot of sense to me.”

Sandra, this character is very sweet and determined, but everyone else labels her as a stalker. How do you feel about that label?

Sandra Bullock: “It depends on what side you’re looking at it from. It’s not a ‘he said, she said’. But, she heard society saying, “You’re not living a normal life,’ so she started to doubt herself. At the same time, this guy says, ‘I wish you could be with me, but you have a job.’ She doesn’t think twice about that, until she loses her job and says, ‘Maybe it’s the universe saying that I need to go in this direction. I was invited.’ And, as Angus said, Steve should have just told her to get out of the car if he didn’t want her in the car.”

Bradley Cooper: “But, it’s not until Mary starts to physically injure Steve [that he thinks of her as a stalker]. So, his logic is going down a whole different avenue.”

Sandra Bullock: “And, at the end, both sides meet, and that’s what I like about it. He’s like, ‘I’m sorry. Don’t change.’ And her rebuttal is, ‘I’m Jewish Catholic.’ In her quiet way, she goes, ‘I know I was an idiot. I went down the wrong path.’ There’s the meeting of the minds, and they can both go on their way and admit their short-comings, but they also take away something. I didn’t want her to change at all. I wanted her to continue being who she was, and be okay with it.”

Thomas Haden Church: “But all of us change.”

Sandra, you said that you won’t do romantic comedies anymore because they’re not romantic or funny. How do you see this film?

Sandra Bullock: “This isn’t a romantic comedy. Why should it be? It’s just as loving, funny and unique without needing her to end up with the guy, and that’s the reason I made the film. Why does Mary Horowitz have to end up with the guy to be a complete woman, but we don’t do that to men? Why can’t we women have a diverse selection of comedies to play in and be actors in and make people laugh with? Why do we always have to end up being the woman who, thankfully, gets the guy? She could have had Steve, if she wanted. She just didn’t want any more of that. So, I made it for the very reason that you asked the question. If I can do anything in this time of my career, I want to make it easier for other actresses and girls who are growing up to go, ‘I get to be a part of a comedy or an action film or a romantic comedy or a thriller or just a romance, without having to wind up with someone to complete us.’ I complete me. I just got lucky that, after I completed myself, I met someone who could tolerate me. I love good romantic comedies. There just aren’t a lot of them. But, I love comedies, and I’ll never stop doing them.”

Sandra, what is your own personal relationship with crossword puzzles? Have you ever been a clue in a crossword puzzle?

Sandra Bullock: “I have, and I get that one, every time. I get very excited and I’m like, ‘I know that one!’ But, the other ones, not so much.”

Bradley Cooper: “Is it, ‘Actress Bullock’?”

Sandra Bullock: “Yes. But, if you read quickly, you could just see, ‘Actor Bullock,’ and they’d throw you off with Jim J. Or, ‘Musician Bullock,’ which could be Anna Mae Bullock, who is…?’

Bradley Cooper: “Your mother?”

Sandra Bullock: “Tina Turner.”

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September 4, 2009 - Posted by | 1

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