Sandra Bullock brought the star power back in-person to the SXSW Film Festival on Saturday night, unveiling her new romantic adventure “The Lost City.”
Flanked by costar Daniel Radcliffe and directors Adam and Aaron Nee, fans across multiple generations packed Austin’s Paramount Theater to watch Bullock tangle in the jungle with Channing Tatum. The Paramount Pictures release sees Bullock as a widowed romance novelist whose latest book tour is eclipsed by the himbo model who graces her covers (Tatum). Turns out, her fact-based plots about an ancient culture offer credible clues to the location of a priceless treasure, and a petulant billionaire (Radcliffe) kidnaps Bullock to recover it.
After earning big laughs and applause throughout the two-hour runtime, Bullock (who also produced the project) was overcome to screen the film in public. “It was the first time seeing it with an audience. In post-production, everything was Zoom, everything was virtual, everything was in little cubes and you just had to pray. Seeing it in a theater is a reminder of why we love the theater,” she said.
Bullock, who said she moved to Austin after falling in love with the city during the shoot for her classic “Miss Congeniality,” stood for a lengthy Q&A following the premiere. Here are a few key takeaways:
Bullock’s hair stylist convinced Brad Pitt to star in the film
As was previously reported, Pitt has a supporting role in “The Lost City.” Sparing any spoilers, Pitt plays a dashing and rugged former NAVY Seal who assists Tatum in his effort to recover Bullock from the remote island where the ancient treasure is said to be buried.
“He was our eighth choice,” Bullock joked of Pitt, before explaining that “he and I both have the same hairdresser. She told him to do my movie and she told me to do his movie. I am not joking, that’s how it happened.” Indeed, Bullock will appear in this summer’s assassin showdown “Bullet Train,” led by Pitt.
It might be a decade until you see Sandra Bullock on screen again
In a subtle but surprising revelation, Bullock told the crowd she is focusing on raising her kids. A young female audience member brought up Bullock’s role as a producer in comic George Lopez’s landmark sitcom, and asked if she planning on doing more creative work with the Hispanic and Chicana communities.
“I love stories that show the imperfection of love within families and communities. I would love to [continue doing that] when I’m done being a mom. I’ll get back to it. I don’t know when. Probably when they’re teenagers, solidly 16- or 17-year-olds.” She echoed the sentiment again, when another audience member asked the cast and directors about their upcoming projects.
Bullock’s son Louis is 11, according to reports, and her daughter Laila is 8. Doing the math, that’s a long time without a Sandy on the big screen.
Daniel Radcliffe’s role was written for Oscar Nunez
“Lost City’ has a killer supporting cast beyond Pitt, including Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Raymond Lee, Héctor Aníbal, and Bowen Yang. “The Office” star Oscar Nunez is also a scene-stealer as a quirky cargo plane pilot, and was meant for a much bigger role.
“We wrote the part for Oscar, the part you’re in,” Bullock told Radcliffe on stage. “We found out he wasn’t available. It was like, did no one call Oscar?” The star praised the entire cast as an “absolute joy to be around, people who just enthrall you when they open their mouth.” She was most happy, however, targeting her co-producer Liza Chasin.
“Nothing makes me happy than making Liza laugh. We were in the trenches from the very beginning. We’re very A-type, very bitchy and very bossy,” said Bullock.
On licks, “Speed 2,” and Channing Tatum’s ass
Being a jungle adventure, nature is as much a formidable foe as Radcliffe and his goons for the film’s leads Bullock and Tatum. This includes a scene where Tatum is covered in leeches after wading through a river. Bullock must remove a particularly large cluster from Tatum’s bare backside, which lovingly gets minutes of uninterrupted closeups.
One savvy audience member pointed out that in Bullock’s “Speed 2,” leeches are a major plot point involving that film’s villain, Willem Dafoe. She was asked which leech encounter she preferred more.
“Both of them have their pros and cons. I’m a committed actor – whether on a very slow boat headed toward an island where we could’ve jumped off, or digging things out of Channing’s ass. The dig with Chan is one that I would do over and over again.
“The Lost City” opens nationwide on March 19.