Sci Fi Weekly (US), June 19, 2006
The Lake House
Sandra and Keanu are together again, but this time their connection is a magical mailbox in front of a Lake House, not a speeding bus
by Mike Szymanski
They look tired, not a happy couple, yet all of the questions asked of Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves during their interviews for The Lake House have been about their on-screen chemistry and how they look like such a cute couple. After a week of grueling press interviews, Reeves and Bullock are whisked to the star-studded premiere at the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood only a few days before their film opens. They hold hands sometimes, like friends, but she is recently married, and he's determinedly single, so there's nothing but true friendship between them. The science-fiction love story is a first for Bullock, and she says Reeves helped her a bit with the genre, but she doesn't consider the time-travel romance much of an SF film.
Reeves of course, has a lot of experience in the genre, with the Matrix movies, Constantine, The Devil's Advocate, Bram Stoker's Dracula, The Gift and the upcoming A Scanner Darkly. The closest thing Bullock has come is Practical Magic, in which she played a reluctant witch with her sister, Nicole Kidman. They've searched for a project to work on together since Speed catapulted both of them into household-name status, but that was a dozen years ago. When director Alejandro Agresti (known for the film Valentin, about a boy who wants to become an astronaut) approached them with this remake and revamping of the South Korean SF romance Il Mare, they jumped at the chance.
At two press interviews, Bullock tries to remain upbeat but asks at the second one, "Is it still morning?" Reeves, on the other hand, gets more surly as the day drones on and the questions get more and more lame. Here is a mix of the two interview sessions.
Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves, did you go back to look at the original film Il Mare to prepare for this?
Bullock: Yes, I saw it just because before I signed on I didn't know what the tone was. I wanted it to be a tone like what we have. I didn't want it to become a goofy setup and commercial. It was presented to me not like that, and I wanted to make sure that there was more proof. If I didn't look at it to see what they were doing, I was looking at it to see what the tone was, and when I saw the tone I thought, "I'd like to dive into this." It was just something so different, and it wasn't your commercialized packaged project, and the fact that the studio said, "OK, let's try something unique." Was great, and everyone got on board for passion for the project. It's not one of these big money blockbuster things. You don't take the money, and everyone sacrifices and puts it into the project, and it's so worth it. It is so worth it.
Reeves: For me, I didn't see it, because this script was so different, and it didn't seem to really pertain to me. I'm probably going to watch it now, because I hear that it's a great film. But I didn't look at it in terms of my work on this piece.
What did you think of working with Alejandro Agresti?
Reeves: We had a passionate director. He's on fire. He had the vision, and I think that I kind of got seduced by that.
Bullock: He would sometimes want to kill us, or we would want to kill him. He definitely had a world that he knew about inherently for this piece, and we had to figure out how to insert ourselves into that world and give to what he saw that as.
Sandra, it's obvious Keanu has done many movies with a real science-fiction theme, did he give you any advice for that, or how to get your mind around this time travel stuff?
Bullock: You can't get your mind around life. That's the biggest sci-fi thing there is. So I think that the less you think about it, and just react the way that people normally react to a bizarre situation, the easier it is. If you start to overthink it, it gets a little trickier. He did, though. He did actually try and help me through some stuff.
Reeves: I did, like what?
Bullock: Like life. [Laughs]. No. I mean, I'm a very logical person, and he has a very good way of barreling right into it, whereas I like to dissect and circle around. He kind of dives into it more than I do. ... I believe in that stuff, though. So many times I'll say, "Hey, did you just see that? Did that just happen?" I believe it. I know there are big things that are happening around us; you just have to choose to see them or not.
You both had nominations for Best Screen Kiss for the MTV Movie Awards for Speed. Do you think you will get it again?
Bullock: What? We didn't win? Who cares about MTV? I don't kiss for the masses.
Reeves: It's as good as anything Jim Carrey can do. Oh, I think that it'll rate right up there.
Was there instant chemistry again when you started working together again after so long?
Reeves: Well, it helped that we had worked together before, and I guess that we filmed for about two weeks together. I guess it was about two weeks. And I think that it helped that we've kept in contact over the years, and we've liked each other, and so there's that instant repartee.
Bullock: It was easy in the good parts. There was a little nervousness there, and we've grown up in some areas and not in other areas, and it's never what you think it's going to be. It was better than what I thought it would be. I imagined it, but I didn't expect this. It was a lot different and more fulfilling in a lot of ways then I ever expected.
Are there things that you'd like to go back in time and change?
Bullock: The progress is [so] much more speedy. Every six months there is something new with technology or some revelation. Technology allows us to go back in history and figure something else out, and it's just that much more rapid because of the advancement of technology and science.
Reeves: I don't have a long list. It's all pretty amazing to me.
It's taken you both so long to get to do a project together again. Why is that? Also, Keanu, do you regret not doing Speed 2 with Sandra?
Bullock: Yeah, Keanu. He was smart then. [Laughs.] He had good people surrounding him at the time going, "Don't do it. Don't get on a boat going 10 knots which looks like it's pretty much standing still." You never called to say, "Don't do it." You never called.
Reeves: Well, we kept in touch over the years. We never really actively pursued a project. So it was more to the fates. And we've had a couple of dinners and drinks.
Writing letters is a bit old-fashioned these days. Do you two write letters?
Bullock: Keanu doesn't like computers. I do [write letters]. We've done that with each other, and plus, he refuses to use a computer, so you can't e-mail him. [Letters] are historic. You have something in your hands that's tangible. Emails are kind of like letter writing, they say, but we edit ourselves so much more. You have to make the effort of writing it out, getting the address and sending it. You then have something to pull out and remember.
Reeves: No, I don't have a computer. My friends have computers, and so I kind of adjunct on and ask if they can do something for me.
Bullock: You can always pull up an e-mail out of the file, or print it out and fold it, but it's not the same thing as a letter. I think that there are a lot of harsh realities where people present themselves as one thing and then they see the person and meet the person and they are something completely different, but you don't get to put in the inflection and meaning and all of that. I totally misread comments on e-mails. They came one way, but it's something else with a totally different connotation to them. So we read what we want to read into e-mails, a lot of times and what we want it to mean and say, and we read between the lines and all of that. So I think that does happen a lot.
Reeves: It's something from yourself when you write a letter sometimes. It's a different kind of intention.
Can someone fall in love with someone else through letters or e-mail?
Reeves: Falling in love and having a relationship are two different things, but yeah, I can imagine that one can do that. I think that it depends on one's psychological state. I think that there are some people who are on the Internet and can fall in love. They seem to be in a certain psychological state, and then other people who are different couldn't quite fall in love through Internet and e-mail.
Bullock: You can learn a lot about a person if you're being honest, but I don't think that I could fall in love with someone, though, not me personally, because I'm too much of a cynic and a hard-head. But you could get to know them and like qualities about them and go, "Wow, this is different than I thought." I think that people are more open by e-mail and letters because we think that there's nothing to lose, because you're not face to face and you won't have the humiliation that way. They say that they don't want to write you anymore, and you can write that it's fine and no big deal, but you're crying.
Has being married, Sandra, changed your opinions on romance and love?
Bullock: It hasn't changed me. Keanu is probably the person to ask. I don't know. I was so happy before I got married, and so satisfied and in the best place of my life. So the timing was such that I met someone that complemented me and gave me a nice net to feel more adventurous with, like in life. I was like, "Wow. I have someone watching my back even though I'm taking care of myself." ... The circle has gotten smaller, but the people in that circle are great supporters, and it makes me want to be the best that I can, the best partner, because I've stepped up to the plate.
Reeves: She hasn't changed at all. She's always been a woman. [Laughs.]
Living in a glass house like the one in the movie is difficult, and you both do it as celebrities. How do you deal with the lack of privacy in your life?
Bullock: You know, that house had no toilet, which was really inconvenient when you were shooting. [Laughs.] They built it. I mean, structurally it was a sound house. It was structurally perfect and aesthetically perfect except there was no—there was plumbing in the kitchen, but there was just no toilet. You could've carved out a little toilet, but that wasn't really high on their priority list. Had there been a toilet I would've worked something out where we could've used it, not in that way, but in a scene. [Laughs.]
Reeves: Well, the house has drapes. Privacy is important.
Bullock: But as far as the tabloids, they pretty much leave us alone. We don't live in a place that's easy to get to, and so they leave us alone. We're not that interesting. We're really not. [Laughs.]
You did a good job in making your character seem very melancholy. Was that hard for you, Sandra?
Bullock: I think that every human being, every creature, has a level of melancholy just in life in general. Levels are different, but it was pretty much written out to a certain degree, and then once we started working together and figuring out the environment and why she would allow herself to be drawn into something like this without giving the exposition of "You're a doctor. You're logical. Why are you allowing this to happen when it makes no sense?" It was fun to sort of figure out the levels and the balance. I could do something and push it a little and it would be completely wrong, and it felt wrong, and then we would do it again and we would talk it out, and we would pace it and find another way to do it, and then it would feel absolutely right. Sometimes it's natural, and other times you just have to fight to figure it out. On this one we spent a lot of time alone, but when you're working with other people your level might not be right for the scene or for the other person. ... We're entertainers and our job is to entertain, and I love it, but the real people behind it aren't, nine times out of ten, the people who are doing the entertaining. I don't think that people want to see you being melancholy or down.
Reeves: She liked that part of her character. It's not melancholy like it might feel like, but it was also a kind of introspective person. We see that that was sort of the place that it came from, to where she kind of, not changes, but where she kind of gains in her life through her introspection and through her waiting.
Why has it taken so long for you two to work together again, and will it be another decade or so before you have a romantic destiny again?
Reeves: I'd like to have a "romantic destiny." Please give me a "romantic destiny"! Wow, a "romantic destiny," what does that mean? Romantic destiny.
Bullock: Maybe. Does it matter? Let go of time. Have you seen this film? Let go of time and your preconceived notions of time and just be. If you write that literally, and don't say that I said that sarcastically, I'll be the first to come to your home and destroy your landscaping. [Laughs.]