Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves Share "The Lake House"
by Lynn Barker
We haven't seen Sandy Bullock and Keanu Reeves together since he boarded the doomed bus she was driving in Speed. Sandra went on to great success in the Miss Congeniality films and he became a sci-fi icon in The Matrix series. This week they are together again as lovers across time in the romantic fantasy The Lake House.
Sandy is known for friendly chatter at press events whereas Keanu is more reserved. We got to chat with the two together recently in Beverly Hills and the difference in styles made for a friendly, humorous, very personal, sometimes silly (at one point, Keanu lies down on the floor) interview with the duo talking about everything from childhood sweethearts to the power of hand-written letters, the "death" of Keanu's band Dogstar and kissing instructions from their director. You've gotta check this one out! Picture Keanu looking hot in gray suit over a light blue t-shirt. Sandra is in long shorts, white tank with white, ruffled sheer blouse on top, a long, gold coin necklace and gray alligator heels...
Sandra: [sitting down] My shoes hurt (she takes them off under the table).
TeenHollywood: After all this time [since Speed], why choose this as your reunion film?
Keanu: It just seemed to kind of come together; this film at this time. We both liked the material, liked the idea of what this film was. It was an atypical dramatic romance. I was drawn to that. I liked the dialogue. It was very sweet. I liked these characters trying to figure out their own lives, kind of coming together in a way that I hadn't really seen before.
Sandra: You just wait for the right thing. Often people will say 'you and Keanu should do something. It would be great to have you guys'... it came out of nowhere. It came at us from two different directions. It was at a strange time and I was like 'I'm not ready to do this' and I read it and I went 'wow!'.
TeenHollywood: So, how did you learn about it?
Sandra: Actually, I found out about it through another director friend of mine, Paul Haggis, who said 'you should read this. It's brilliant'. They don't make movies like this any more. It's too risky and it doesn't have the formula that you can hang something on. But, I think that you don't have to spend a lot of money to make something moving. If it works, money will come later. But, everyone does things for love. Eventually, you're going to get something out of it. It might not be 'Batman' but it'll be what it's supposed to be.
TeenHollywood: Can you both talk about working with your director Alejandro Agresti? Isn't he pretty intense?
Keanu: I went to meet him at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. I wasn't familiar with his work except for Valentin. He's quite a unique person; the way the he collects Russian first editions, builds stereos, he builds his own amplifiers then he's written four novels, he's made eighteen films. Quite a Renaissance man; a man of passion. So, I was really looking forward to working with him. He's larger than life. It was, at times, inspiring. At times you have to wait for Alejandro to come back to Earth.
Sandra: (In Latino accent) You wanna keel him. Sometimes, he wants to keel you. He's [like] a painter. In a day when our visual medium has become 'slice it down to an hour and thirty minutes because of the attention span of whoever's watching'.. that doesn't exist in his world nor should it.
Keanu: Well, we had to battle with him too because I remember the first couple of scenes I worked on with Alejandro, we did this take and it was like 'place the camera' and he was like 'next scene'. 'What do you mean, next scene? Where's the coverage, where's the over the shoulder [shot]?' [He'd say] 'No! I know!'. Then, after a couple of weeks of filming the studio called and was like 'where's the coverage?' 'There isn't any'. But, Alejandro was really cutting his movie on the floor. He just sees it in his head and cuts on the floor.
TeenHollywood: Through much of the movie you two are really apart, writing letters and narrating them without a lot of eye-to-eye contact. Was that an acting challenge?
Keanu: [sings.. la, la, la, la, la] Well, the challenge, for me, it was part of that yearning to want to see the person, to see Kate [Sandy's character]. It's in the script. Also, Alejandro kind of set up situations where we were in the same room acting together but apart [in different times]. [He looks at Sandra] It really kind of called upon being open and whatever connection you and I have to let that be. It helped that we had worked together before and I guess we filmed about two weeks together. I think it helped that we've kept in contact over the years and we like each other, so it was kind of instant rapport.
Sandra: [smiling] There's an ease. I don't want to say it's a comfort, but it's an ease for me to look at him directly. In places when I'm not comfortable with myself, I can look him in the eye and feel that I have a place there. There's other people, you can look in their eyes and not feel that you are supposed to be there. I think that was a nice luxury for me. I know what it's like to remember him. We have a nice history. There's a great level of comfort that I have.
Sandra: Oh yeah, big time.
TeenHollywood: Today, people rely on e-mails and electronic communication. This movie was very old-fashioned in its approach having people actually put pen to paper and write a letter. Can you both talk about your own relationships to letter writing?
Keanu: In terms of writing letters, I tend to type them.
Sandra: On a real typewriter?
Keanu: On a real typewriter.
Sandra: Well, that takes effort as well.
Keanu: I like the contact of it. I think, when I write, I try to be thoughtful but I also like to write kind of quasi-poetically unless I'm answering some kind of voyeur letter from the co-op [Apartment organization] in New York. So I enjoy the sensation of sitting down and taking time and then typing, ... the physicalness [physicality?] of it, the imprint on the paper, the idea that it's not prone to sun flares and you know, it kinda has its own independence.
Sandra: It's evidence. It's the evidence of the effort.
Keanu: It doesn't take batteries.
Sandra: No...it's charged by you and your efforts. You know, that was a nice thing about the film was that people can't say 'well, why didn't they call each other? Why didn't they use e-mail?' Because the only way to communicate was at that house with this mailbox, this one mailbox. So it eliminates all the 'where's the technology?' But you know, I love nothing more than the written word and someone taking the time to...
Keanu: [looking thoughtful] So it's on the wavelength of love, of personal intimate time...
Sandra: I hope [she] quotes you and makes you sound as cheesy as you sound [we laugh].
TeenHollywood: Do you guys write love letters then?
Sandra: Oh yeah, big time.
At this point, Keanu decides to lie down flat on the floor behind a table.
Keanu: It's so much better down here! I don't need to be seen.
Sandra: [playing along] That's true. Well, one of the greatest gifts that girlfriends of mine gave me for a birthday like five years ago (she laughs as she looks down at Keanu) was...
Keanu: I'm listening!
Sandra: Was that they knew how much I love the written word. I love when someone takes the time or leaves you a note or sends a letter. They went to every single person that I ever said I admired or loved or respected as an actor or musician or philosopher or scientist and said 'it's her birthday, so if you want, write something, draw something or just say something that springs to mind'. I still can't get through it because it's so overwhelming; this leather-bound book with their handwriting or their little faces or an exclamation point, or just a little scribble. It was like, you could see that they probably thought, 'oh, I'll write a little something' and then they started writing around the sides and went around the back. They took the time. [To Keanu on the floor] I think you actually wrote one. Do you remember what you said?
Keanu: [looking confused] I don't.
Sandra: Because you were in the moment. Whatever!
TeenHollywood: Do you believe in romantic destiny?
Keanu: Romantic destiny? [he repeats this six times!]
Sandra: I think there are different levels of romance. Do you know what I mean? I can have an incredible romance with him when we work together. It's that in that moment. It was destined for that. We were scheduled to work that same day to work in that scene.
TeenHollywood: Do you think your two characters were destined for each other?
Sandra: I think they chose to be together. They chose to accept this situation and allowed themselves to let go and be a part of it. And allowed themselves the joy of what can't be explained by society. I believe in choice, the freedom of choice and carving out your own happiness.
Keanu: What do you think of astrological charts?
Sandra: I think they're incredible.
Keanu: So how does that deal with choosing your romantic destiny?
Sandra: Whatever choices are being made through astrology, and destiny and faith, I have no control over. I have the control over saying yes or no to the experience. There's a lot of coincidences and things that have happened in my lifetime where I go, 'did you just see that,' 'did that just happen?' I believe there's bigger things at work than just me [giggles] which is odd for an actor I know. I believe there's big things that are happening and you have to choose whether you are going to be open enough to see them.
TeenHollywood: Do you remember your first big crush?
Sandra: Oh yes! Yes. Germany. First grade. Stefan [pronounced with a German accent].
TeenHollywood: Did you break his heart?
Sandra: No. He broke mine. Not really. I moved back to the States and then came back and my cousin started dating him [laughs]. It was like in the 2nd or 3rd grade.
TeenHollywood: And you, Keanu?
Keanu: Oh....I'll go today with Alison. [dreamy-like] Alison. [he flutters his hands over this mouth with her last name so we can't hear it.] It was unrequited.
TeenHollywood: Sandra, you're married now [to Jesse James from Discovery Channel's "Monster Garage"]. Did you just wait for the right one?
Sandra: [smiles] Well, I never waited. I seized the opportunities in love. I had so much love. I had a few incredible relationships. To me, it seems like a lot because you have four years with someone, and to me that's just the same as having been married to them. But it was a part of my life. I never waited for anything. If you're talking about getting married, I never wanted to get married. It was a death sentence to me.
TeenHollywood: Ouch! Why?
Sandra: How many marriages do you see that you really admire? How many people who in a marriage, go 'oh my God, I have the greatest relationship, I'm so happy.' Or 'I married too young' or 'I have kids and they're taking away from my life.' I want to enjoy everything that I do and be the best of myself. I wasn't raised with the 'have a white dress and a wedding.' I was raised with 'have a good life and push yourself and achieve what you want to achieve in happiness.' I never waited for anything. I think I stayed open to all possibilities and had the greatest of love and wouldn't change anything that I did. I look at mistakes that led me to right here this day, and the best thing that ever happened to me.
Keanu: (facetiously) It was romantic destiny.
TeenHollywood: Sandra, your hubby Jesse had an accident at the auto races. Did he really get hurt?
Sandra: He got hurt. He broke his scapula and cracked ribs, internal bruising. Going to the hospital is a bi, uh, semi-annual adventure. He's okay now but he has had more broken bones than...He went in and told the doctor that he broke it. And the doctor said, 'no I don't think so. It's blunt force trauma'. And [Jesse] went 'I got hit by a race car!'. But he's good. He knows how to heal himself.
TeenHollywood: Were you there?
Sandra: I had to drive him to the hospital. I drove all the way home. He wanted to drive himself.
TeenHollywood: Okay, Keanu. When are you going to settle down?
Keanu: [to Sandra] You want to bail me out here?
Sandra: He doesn't do anything half-assed at all. There's nothing he does that isn't 1000 per cent committed from himself. If it doesn't feel right, he's not going to do it.
Keanu: I wish that was true. [You have to] use communication and imagination. A relationship is an imaginative act, it's an act of creation. Someone said to me the other day, that a relationship between a person and a kid is unconditional. But the relationship between adults, to each other, is conditional, in a sense. But that condition can be the best kind.
Keanu: [a grin] You know...I didn't answer your question. But it's something, I guess.
TeenHollywood: Sandra, with Jesse, did everything just click?
Sandra: It was bigger than I was in all the right ways. And I'm a control freak, who can take care of everything myself, who carries her own luggage, takes care of the car, runs her own business, wants the evil empire, I can do anything. Tell me I can't do something, I'm gonna do it. I don't need it. I don't need a man. I can take care of everything. It had everything and nothing to do with that. It just happened. It took an eight year old. My eight-year-old godson led me. [She took him to the set of "Monster Garage"]. That's what it was.
TeenHollywood: If you guys were to go home today and open up your mailbox, who would you like to get a letter from?
Sandra: My mom [her mom passed away a few years ago]. I want to know how she is. Just how's she doing. Cause I'm sure she is not out having a whole adventure of her own. I just to see her handwriting. She had very dramatic handwriting. And it was just so distinctive. I just want to see that handwriting on the outside of the letter. Just the handwriting, I don't really need the contents.
TeenHollywood: [at this point we get really sad. Better change the subject] Keanu, are you still playing music?
Keanu: No, I'm not. The band that I played with for 9 years, Dog Star, we kinda came to a place where we couldn't play music together anymore. But nine years is a good run. Then I played for two years in this band called Becky, Becky Rocks!
Sandra: He was awesome. It's a great group.
Keanu: Then I kinda got in the band's way. They wanted to tour and do some things I couldn't commit to, so I just stepped aside. I still play with friends.
TeenHollywood: You two are friends. Wasn't it kind of weird to get all kissy-face and romantic? Did you discover anything about each other?
Sandra: Well, I think it's a little scary to get intimate. When we had to be together, we had to be together in the most intimate of ways. I think I got to see his history and what he has experienced these past 10 years, and who he is as now as a man, just as well as when I first met him. But much more open. It's weird.
TeenHollywood: And you aren't even alone. There's a director and crew...
Sandra: Yeah, about 60 people watching you, talking, whispering as they are moving things. And then the neighborhood is out, and people hanging outside their houses. Boy, it's odd. But you just have to kinda zone out in a weird way and not think about it. I'm not going to get uncomfortable. We are just going to do what feels right.
TeenHollywood: Did your director help you?
Sandra: He would bark out what he would want differently [Latino voice again] 'okay, take her face, kiss her like this, kiss her all over her face' And we're like, 'what?! 'What does that mean? [Keanu is laughing]. But by the end, we just do what we do on our own and he filmed it and it just worked.