Sandra Bullock PROFILE
Giving new meaning to the term "America's Sweetheart," Sandra Bullock has won over scores of filmgoers and critics with her wholesome, exuberant portrayals of ordinary women in extraordinary circumstances. Since her breakthrough role as Speed's unwitting heroine, Bullock has enjoyed the type of popularity that was in the past reserved for actresses along the lines of Mary Pickford or Shirley Temple.
Born in Washington, D.C. on July 26, 1964, Bullock was the elder daughter of a vocal coach dad and an opera singer mom. Touring through Europe with her mother, Bullock was given her first taste of show business while still a child. Back in the States, Bullock attended high school in Virginia and was a popular cheerleader whose classmates dubbed her the person "Most Likely To Brighten Your Day." After a stint at East Carolina University, Bullock took her sunny nature to New York, where she began concentrating on an acting career. After tending bar and studying her craft with dramatician Sanford Meisner, Bullock got her start with a number of stage productions. It was for one of these productions, the off-Broadway No Time Flat, that Bullock received a rave review for her portrayal of a Southern belle, the strength of which was enough to land her an agent.
Television work followed, with a small role in the 1989 Bionic Showdown: The Six-Million-Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman, and, after Bullock's migration to Los Angeles, Melanie Griffith's role in the short-lived television version of Working Girl. Miraculously surviving the widespread career fallout that surrounded her first starring film role in Love Potion No. 9 (1992), the actress went on the following year to star in the similarly ill-fated The Thing Called Love. However, things began to look up the same year when the struggling actress became the last-minute replacement for Lori Petty in the Sylvester Stallone action flick Demolition Man. Though her role was essentially limited to intermittent saliva exchanges with Stallone, Bullock's performance won the attention of the film's producer, Joel Silver, who in turn recommended her to Jan De Bont. De Bont, then in the process of casting his upcoming bus-with-a-bomb action film, chose the struggling actress for the part of Annie, the film's reluctant heroine. In casting Bullock against Keanu Reeves, De Bont reportedly came up against considerable resistance from studio executives, who wanted someone blonde and buxom for the part. The director persevered and, in 1994, Bullock took her place in movie history as part of Speed, one of the most successful action films ever made. The film propelled the actress to stardom, surprising no one more than Bullock herself, who later remarked, "never in a million years did I think a bus movie would open every door I ever possibly wanted open."
Doors now wide open, Bullock next starred in the 1995 romantic comedy While You Were Sleeping. The film was a critical and commercial hit, and the actress followed it up with a film adaptation of John Grisham's A Time To Kill, co-starring Ashley Judd and Matthew McConaughey. The success of that film was the last that Bullock would enjoy for a while, as she then entered something of a sophomore slump with disappointments such as In Love and War (1996), Two If By Sea (1996), and, perhaps most excruciating, Speed 2: Cruise Control (1997). Fortunately for Bullock, her audiences seemed to be inclined to forgive and forget, and she had a modest rebound with the following year's Hope Floats, which also happened to be the first project of the production company she founded, Fortis Films. The same year, Bullock also starred in another romantic comedy, Practical Magic, opposite Nicole Kidman. The film provided another modest success for Bullock, who, back in the saddle again, proceeded to do yet another romantic comedy, this time starring with Ben Affleck in Forces of Nature (1999).