When she talks about her typical day, Sandra Bullock's eyes light up.
The 48-year-old Oscar-winning actor has seen more than her fair share of Hollywood premieres and awards ceremonies, but today she's talking preschool and play dates, thanks to her three-year-old son Louis.
''The day starts getting up at the crack of dawn, make the lunch, go to school, manage to have two hours to clean something, work out and go back and pick him up and take him to swim class, a play date and then it's dinner, bath and bed,'' she rattles off the list.
''People ask, 'Are you exhausted?' Yeah, and for a really good reason, because there is no stone unturned. It's afforded me a childhood, because I get up and say 'All I want to do is have fun!'''
The brunette once hailed as America's sweetheart is refreshingly candid about her life and career when she sits down in a New York hotel suite to talk about her new female cop buddy movie, The Heat.
She's come out of a self-imposed hiatus to do her part for women in comedy, teaming up with Bridesmaids actor Melissa McCarthy and director Paul Feig, and she's hoping The Heat will break the ''chick flick'' stereotype and give the superheroes a run for their money during the summer blockbuster season in the US.
''This movie wouldn't have been made without Bridesmaids, so I do think the landscape is changing and the financial success of that film said that maybe people want to see a different tone coming from women than we've seen in a long time,'' she says hopefully.
In The Heat, Bullock plays FBI Special Agent Sarah Ashburn, a fiercely competitive New York agent who is sent to Boston to help solve a murder case.
Standing in her way is dishevelled, foul-mouthed Boston police officer Shannon Mullins (McCarthy), who is not happy that the stuck-up Ashburn is on her turf. The pair eventually realise they have more in common than they thought and team up to catch a killer.
''I was happy being at home, but a friend sent me the script and I laughed out loud from beginning to end,'' she says. ''Then I heard Melissa was also reading it and that was it, because I'd really wanted to work with her.''
Born in Arlington, Virginia, the daughter of a German opera singer mother and a voice coach father, Bullock was raised around show business, often joining her mother on concert tours of Europe when she was young.
Spending most of her pre-teen years in Nuremberg, Germany, she relocated with her family to Washington, DC as a teenager, studied drama at a North Carolina university and then moved to New York City.
Bullock's first taste of movie stardom came with the 1994 blockbuster Speed and she quickly became one of Hollywood's highest-paid female performers, with a string of hit comedies including Miss Congeniality and The Proposal, capped off by an Oscar-winning performance in the 2010 drama The Blind Side.
After romances with co-stars including: Tate Donovan, Matthew McConaughey and Ryan Gosling, she married motorcyclist Jesse James in 2005. Ten days after her 2010 Oscar win, tabloids broke the story that he had been cheating on her with a tattoo model and Bullock filed for divorce, also revealing that she had adopted a 3½-month-old boy and would raise him as a single mother.
Although she's happy to leave her Austin, Texas, home to promote the film, Bullock admits she's made some new rules to accommodate her priorities.
''We're on the road for 2½ weeks and I said, 'If we do this, we have two days of work and then I'm going to take one day to have an adventure with my son and you don't ask me to do anything','' she explains.
Her upcoming trip to Australia for the local premiere of The Heat will be one of her only trips without Louis. ''The flight is just too long for such a short time,'' she laments. ''I'm leaving him behind on that one so I'm going to make it really quick so I can rush back to him.''
When we spoke a few years ago, Bullock playfully acknowledged there was only room in her life for her ''little man''. Has that changed? ''The little man is still very much the centre of my universe,'' she laughs.
''He's still very young and one day things could change, but right now we have a very busy schedule full of important things to do, like swim class from three to four.
And then feeding him takes hours,'' she teases, ''so by the end of the day, around eight, you wouldn't want to go out with me anyway because I'm a mess! But when that all calms down, who knows what could happen?''
- © Fairfax NZ News
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