When Sandra Bullock takes her seat at her Hollywood Foreign Press Association press conference, she complains about being placed under the harsh glare of overhead lighting, “better suited to a horror film”, as she puts it.
But she needn’t have bothered. No matter the lighting, she looks positively ravishing.
And I tell her so.
How does she do it, is it all in in the genes? Jokingly she replies: “It’s tons of plastic surgery. It’s a lot of liposuction, bangs before Botox is what I say. And I’m not wearing jeans. I’m wearing a really tight dress that’s sucking it all in right now.”
Bullock has always been hilarious, even though her best work has been in dramatic roles – The Blind Side for which she won her an Oscar and Gravity for which she was nominated for Best Actress.
Currently she is playing a political consultant with deep personal problems in Our Brand Is Crisis, a role originally intended for George Clooney.
It was no secret that the gender roles were switched, but I was surprised to learn that it was her idea.
Ten years ago when I met Bullock, I asked if fame has changed her? “I don’t think fame or success changes anybody.
“If you’re a nightmare, you were a nightmare before you became famous.
“Fame magnifies whatever it is. It’s magnified my insecurities, my drive, my ambition.
“But I never thought I was any better than anyone else.
“Of course I’ve been affected by it. You can’t avoid that, but if it doesn’t pay the bills, if it doesn’t walk the dog, if it doesn’t do the things that are really important, it kind of goes away.”
And truth be told she hasn’t changed one bit.
Your character in the new movie is good at dealing with crises, how about you?
With a five-year-old (Bullock adopted a son, Louis in 2010) there are crises every day. There’s crisis aversion. I realised yesterday, as I was coming home, that I don’t sweat the big stuff.
I do really well when things are large and honestly dangerous, but it’s the small stuff that I sweat, like why is the lasagna not in the oven and the fish is.
There’s not much that’s going to happen that’s going to upset me, as long as my son’s healthy and uninjured.
I almost took him to the hospital two days ago – we played this game with a big ball, he likes to run in the yard, and I throw it at him – but he tripped on a piece of dead grass and I went, “Omigod, I’ve just broken his arm and his ankle.”
I’m going to have to explain this at the hospital that this is my fault. But he was fine.
There’s not much that he can do that will send me to a bad place. He’s a pretty cool kid.
For years George Clooney said he would never marry ...
Yeah, I know, he messed it up for me, and now I’m like one holding up the flag going, ”You don’t need to be married.”
So are you ready to give it a second chance?
I want to say never, but then I get into trouble when I say that. I don’t see any need for it myself.
I don’t think about it, but remember, in George’s case, he found the right partner.
Both of them chose well – and that’s the beautiful thing – that there’s someone willing to wait, even though he’s getting all kinds of pressure from the world.
Marriage isn’t the ultimate ending unless you find a partner that loves and supports you the way George and Amal love and support each other.
That’s the ultimate gift whether you marry or not.
Are you still open to love?
I’m a lot more open now and not as judgmental. I don’t have a long list of what I need, it’s a short list, but it’s a very important list.
Right now my son is my priority. If something doesn’t work around my son and it’s not brilliant, you won’t get to come near me, and that includes all the people in my life.
But I have a group of girlfriends that are extraordinary, and our commitment to each other is pretty honest and straightforward and unwavering.
We do a lot of self-reflection, and we share it with each other. We’re all in the same boat, so asking for help is something I learned how to do.
You focus on the positive. So, no matter what the papers say – that I’m unlucky in love, true I’ve had a couple of missteps and I’ve done some things that I’m not very proud of – but now I’m happy because of how much I love my son.
Could I share that with another person? I don’t know. We’ll see. (Bullock was married to Jesse James for five years; the couple divorce in 2010.)
Your son seems to give you so much joy. Is this the best time of your life?
I look at every year and I go, ‘Wow, this is the best year,” even though there were a couple of years that weren’t really that great.
But right now, I do have the most beautiful child in the world and people in my life I’m really lucky to have, so, yes, I’m embracing every single moment.
You were moved by Jennifer Lawrence’s piece about why women accept unequal salary. Can you expound on that?
Oh, I’d love to. When I heard she wrote that piece, I was like, “Wow, that’s me!” That was my mindset.
I felt so lucky just to be working in this business. Why should I be talking about money equality when I can pay my bills, I can send my son to school, I can buy those shoes if I want those shoes?
But then I read her piece, and what she was saying is exactly what I was thinking.
Instead of being happy to get the job and close the deal, I should have been demanding more, but like Jennifer I didn’t want to appear difficult or spoilt.
As soon as I finished the article I wanted to call her and hug her because as a woman I realised I was operating on exactly that level.