Sandra Bulloock replaying a horrible event over and over again in the thriller
In Sandra Bullock's latest thriller, Premonition, she plays a woman whose husband dies, but keeps reliving the events prior to the actual tragedy. What's even more strange, her husband (Julian McMahan) is still alive and well in those flashbacks.
Throughout the film, she's determined to figure out why her days are playing out in a different order than she remembered. Sandra sat down with Movieweb.com to talk about Premonition; here's what she had to say:
How crazy is it to get your emotions in check for this movie?
Sandra Bullock: I had a really hard time, and I take great pleasure in saying I thought I was going to loose it; I went to the director (Mennan Yapo) and said, 'I'm having a hard time. I don't know what to do.' And the smile on his face when he heard that, 'No, that's exactly where you need to be.' And I was like, 'No, it's not.' But, I loved working with this director and understood completely the method to his madness that in my unraveling, in this little bubble that we had for three months, I felt like, 'Ok, I'm gonna be fine.' It's just a hard thing to put yourself in a state of grief like that for three months and not think you're gonna cough up some of your own stuff. It's not healthy, but it was exciting to think, I hope at the end, that he got what he needed. We played the levels right; it was getting the levels right - is she just pure grief here, when does the grief go into denial and anger, when does she get mad at the affair? You have to start infusing - it wasn't pretty; it would be nice if it all had been linear, it would have made more sense. I don't think there is a way to shoot this film in a linear fashion.
How helpful was it that you both spoke German?
Sandra Bullock: Not bad, it was fun; but I think because I understood his nature, I got his work ethic. Once I realized the way we were going to work, and it dawned on me one day in the middle of a shot, and I went, 'This is what I need to be prepared for.' Once I knew what to be prepared for, which was at any moment he's going to flip it and put it on it's ear and do something else which added in making me feel like I was going to go crazy. Not only as a perfectionist, but emotionally I was getting so angry; once I knew what that language was and understood it, I felt very comfortable. I understood his work ethic; I got it, I got that drive. And the visual between he and Torsten, who was his D.P, they worked like, their teamwork as, I don't even know the word - visualists - the painters that they became in tandem was pretty spectacular. If you watched them on set, we never really left set. He said, 'I'd like you be on set all the time.' I tried to make that happen as much as possible.
Do you believe in any sort of supernatural occurrences?
Sandra Bullock: I don't think we are the only planet that has life; I do think there is something to human nature, if you want to call it intuitiveness, gut instinct. People who know things that have happened - it's happened to a lot of people; but I always put it back into this, they call it, how you just put it, it's almost like it becomes a scientific thing. No one has proof that I know of, that a higher power exists, yet a major portion of the world believes in it and relies on it in faith in trust, in what that is. Where is the science in that? And yet you have incredible belief in that; when someone says to me, 'I've had a bad feeling that something is going to happen and then it did.' I don't know how to explain it; it can't be explained by science, but I believe in that happening. I think there is something bigger than we understand, but I don't think it's supported and nurtured in people. I think people think you are crazy and unless it can be proved by science, it's not valid. But I do believe; twins have it, twins know what's happened to each other.
What did you think when you read the script?
Sandra Bullock: So much of what is woven in the story is in the visual and was the director's job; my job was to have the right emotion and what would she do in this situation. It was all about me, and I don't mean that, but it was all about, 'what is Linda going through at this point? What would she do with her kids? What wouldn't she say? Why doesn't she say anything to him, because he's going to think she's crazier.' They are already distant when the film starts; there is already trouble there. If I bring up these visions is he going to leave me? Is this something, there has been a lot going on before the film started. So, we did a lot of that kind of talking - why would she choose not to or why would she? And we said a lot of this happened in the years preceding this very moment. And that was nice in working with Julian and Mennan is that we came up with our own story in what put us in this place. So, you feel it when you see it, but you don't know it until the pieces get together. And again, at the end, to have that feeling of what I would have done? Would I have gone back and changed? Or would I have let him die? What would you have done? Y'know, you hold on to the resentment, do you try and make a new life? Do you try and make a life better than how your life ended up or is there something worth salvaging? I concentrate on her and not the other stuff. I didn't have the where with all to deal with that, but I knew Mennan and Tostin knew exactly what they were doing visually in the storytelling.
What about the challenge of doing a movie in which everything that happens is filtered through her point-of-view?
Sandra Bullock: On one hand, I got excited because I said as an audience member I wanted to be the eyes for the people watching the film; if I was in the audience watching this, I would want to feel as frustrated. I want to feel like I am going crazy, I understand why she's acting the way that she is. Why isn't anyone listening? What would I do? I thought it was a really interesting take on it putting her complex situation into the driver's seat for the audience - I love that take. And that again, goes to the writer who imagined this, who imagined this story from beginning to end. Go into his head; what made him write this? But, I thought it was a really great point-of-view to take.
What message do you think the movie is try to give?
Sandra Bullock: Mennan said, 'It's like the American dream becomes the American nightmare.' I personally came out of it, my favorite line is the priest's line, 'It's never too late to fight for what you want.' And that is what you want in your happiness is not going to be what the American dream is. The American dream, I'm sure, wants you to follow that path because it's easy to control. But, I'm a firm believer that we all deserve happiness in our way. It's not going to be like the neighbors' way, and have you done everything in this lifetime to make this lifetime your own - complacency - what a miserable place to be. She was a prisoner of that house and that routine and that run everyday was the same as her laundry; everything was exactly the same. The love lost, the touching him, he turns away, you can't speak anymore; you don't know how to get back to each other, that happens to so many people. What happened to the fun or the laughter or the connection? That is what I took; a lot of people have come out taking so many other things, but you don't want to die going, 'I wish I'd lived the life I wanted to live.' Or said what I wanted to say, or said, 'You know what? I'm pissed off at you, f*ck you! How dare you do this?' Start a dialogue and get it off your chest; to connect, to feel something, to go through life unfeeling is, that's not a life.
What did Julian bring to the film?
Sandra Bullock: Acting chops, acting chops, acting chops; and an understanding of what it is to be a father. An understanding of what it is like to be a man and be in the position where you have to be the provider. You have to do x, y and z in order to be a man which is completely false, but is that preconceived notion. He was thinking, 'They could have been prom King and Queen; they were the sparkle in everyone's eye. And here they are, what they are, which is nothing.' He understood that; he was so thorough in how he approached everything. We would sit there and I go, and in the love scene, the love scene that we did is not the love scene that was written. We got to that night and we went, 'Something is not right;' that happens a lot on a film where you have shot so much and you get to this place and you go, 'So much has changed.' And so in a way all three of us just locked ourselves in a room and talked about it and what is it that we want to say in a visual way and emotionally? The way he approaches his work is so thorough, he is a workhorse; he takes his work very seriously. I felt very comfortable with him; I knew he was in it for the same reasons I was and there was going to be nothing for those three months that was going to get in the way of that. So, I admire him a great deal for the man he is and the actor he is and the dedication, and he's really tall and he made me look tiny.
Do you have any sense of premonition? Have you ever had one?
Sandra Bullock: I have pretty good gut instincts; my mother had extraordinary intuition, extraordinary. I think everyone has it; I don't think we are raised to embrace it, I really don't. I have had things tell me not to do something and then I've done it and paid for it and listened. I've had dreams going, 'What does that mean?' And then the dream, what the essence of what it was happened; I think that happens to everyone. Is that intuition, is that premonition, is that coincidence? I don't know, but I do know that there are times that I've asked for something and I've seen it and I look up and go, 'That's awesome.' To me, that is beyond my control so I appreciate any help I can get whether it's the voices in my head or it's a neighbor, I appreciate it.
Premonition opens in theaters March 16th; it's rated PG-13.