SITTING PRETTY by Dennis Hensley

When Detour first asked me if I wanted to interview Sandra Bullock, my response was something along the lines of, "Sure, who's Sandra Bullock?" Of course, that was three years ago.

It was January of 1993 and Bullock was doing her first-ever magazine interviews to promote two films that you probably didn't see; The Vanishing and The Thing Called Love.  She met me in the pouring rain at a coffee house on Beverly Boulevard in L.A. The adjectives that Hollywood types throw around to describe her appeal--and are currently trying to clone; accessible, easygoing, girl next door, et al--were pretty hard to miss, even under a baggie sweater and blue jeans. She also demonstrated a refreshing ability to poke fun at herself. It's not everyday you meet an actor who will admit to repeated viewings of Xanadu and marvel with embarrassment that her publicist was able to cobble together a four page bio out of a handful of little-seen films (Love Potion #9, Wrestling Ernest Hemingway) and a failed TV series (Working Girl).

Today, Sandra Bullock's bio is still four pages, it's just packed a lot tighter. Not long after we met, she was cast opposite Sylvester Stallone and Taco Bell in the futuristic shoot-em-up Demolition Man. It was her next film, Speed, that bumped Bullock up to the A-list, proving that she can wear one outfit for an entire whole movie and still keep us rooting for her. 1995 gave the actress the chance to prove she could open a movie on her own. So she did, twice. While You Were Sleeping was the year's warmest and fuzziest hit and The Net, well, it gave her a chance to show off those mouse skills.

Bullock is taking a step back in '96, starring opposite Denis Leary in Two if By Sea, which she describes as "edgy, offbeat, small film." Following that, she'll pop up in a supporting role in Joel Schumacher's adaptation of the John Grisham novel, A Time To Kill.

I've flown to Jackson, Mississippi, where A Time to Kill is finishing production. Just before I left L.A., I read that Bullock was going to get over $10 million to star in Richard Attenborough's In Love and War. In three short years, she's gone from the girl nobody could quite place to the girl everybody wants. What I'm wondering, as I wait for her to arrive at my $50 a night hotel room, is if Sandra Bullock can still laugh at things like Xanadu and the Osmonds CD I brought as a gift. More importantly, can the $10 million girl still laugh at herself? I'm about to find out.

 

DENNIS HENSLEY: I brought you an Osmonds Greatest Hits CD. 25 hits on one disc.

SANDRA BULLOCK: Look at the teeth on these guys. It's all teeth.

Don't sweat it. I got it for free.

Free is the best. Anything free is good.

You must get tons of stuff for free.

Every time I open my mouth and say I like something, it shows up at the door. Once I said that I like the Principal Secret, from Victoria Principal's infomercial. A month later, the entire kit was on my doorstep.

Do you suppose she dropped it off herself?

She might have, but she would probably have wanted to come and give me a facial. I want to show you something. Look at the way I'm dressed. Does it take you back anywhere?

Hee Haw?

Oh come on. The first interview we ever had, I wore the same exact thing. I couldn't find the original sweater, but this was close and the jeans.

Tell me about your new film, Two if By Sea.

I just saw it and I was shocked. I don't know whether I was pleased or embarrassed, but I totally veered away from what is comfortable to me. I play a cashier from New Jersey who's been in a relationship for seven years and wants more. Her boyfriend, Denis Leary, is a no-good art thief and she's going on this last job to make sure he doesn't screw it up. I really wanted to go into uncharted waters and do things that nobody would expect me to do, probably no one would want to see me do, but let's see what happens. I really wanted to work with Denis because comedically, he makes me better. He sets you up and you find yourself with a rebuttal that you didn't even know was in your head.

You've known Denis for a while, right?

Since Demolition Man. We were the only one's not working all the time so he'd smoke 20,000 cigarettes and drink 20 gallons of Coke, while I'd eat jars of marshmallow fluff.

Then there's Joel Schumacher's A Time to Kill. You play a supporting role, right?

Yeah. It was a good lesson for me in how to step back and listen rather than having the luxury of the joke or the pratfall or falling down the stairs at the teen pageant, which is easy for me to do.

What's your character?

Ellen Roark. She's really smart and edgy and very sexual. She can hang with the boys, pat them on the butt if they pat her, that type of thing.

Do you do a little butt patting?

I do a little butt watching. I look at Matthew McConnaghay's naked butt.

He's a newcomer. How's the tush?

What's funny is I couldn't bring myself to look at it. I just saw the side as I lifted up the shirt, but then I kind of walked on. I didn't have a minute to like concentrate on the...

...the globes proper...

...but he's really fit. Baby got back. He's really going to take off after this. It's nice to be in a film where everybody's better than me. I sit there and I go, "What can you learn?"  The cast is like Samuel Jackson, Kevin Spacey, Brenda Fricker, Oliver Platt, both Sutherlands, Charles Dutton. The list goes on and on. This film also has a great message in it. I think for once, in a very long time, we're putting out a film that addresses issues that are on everyone's minds. This film is about black and white, it's about justice and it's about family. We're in this small town of Canton, Mississippi and the film has brought together people who could have lived right next door who have never ever spoken because it was a black/white issue and to see these people coming together in the town square and relating, you would just want to cry.

What do you remember observing about the way different races related when you were growing up?

I wasn't raised thinking somebody was black or white. My best friend in school was a black guy and it didn't even register until like five years ago that there should have been an issue there and it never was. He's just the best friend I've ever had.

Since this is a Joel Schumacher film you know you're going to look incredible.

This is the first time that anybody has taken a great deal of concern in how I look. I went through at least 100 pairs of jeans to find the perfect ones.

You have to maximize that ass.

As Joel says, "We want it to look an apple." He's so great. He embraces actors. Every idiosyncrasy that a person has, he loves it.  He brings out things in you that you're sort of unsure about.

Like?

Putting my sexuality on my sleeve and being proud of it. In other films, if you notice, there's nothing like a big old sweater, or a clunky pair of boots or your hair in your face to make me feel okay. In this I wear tight jeans, tank tops, bare arms. He took away every crutch that I had.

Then next year you're going to film Sir Richard Attenborough's In Love and War. How did that come about?

He watched my work and said, 'This is something that somebody needs to pull out of her' and I love that because I've done all my tricks and I'm tired of myself. I don't want anybody to say, "You do what you're good at." Huh-uh. I've done it. I want somebody to say, "No, you are going to do this."

Is he going to be your first Sir?

He's a Lord. He was upgraded.

Do you have to call him 'Lord?'

I'm going to call him Dickey. "Dickey, come here." He's very informal.

You're going to play the nurse who has a love affair with Ernest Hemingway played by Chris O'Donnell. Any chance you can convince him to do a few scenes in the Robin costume just for kicks?

Joel Schumacher had a funny story about that. He truly believes that Chris paid off the costume department because his...um...

Codpiece?

...was so much more, shall we say, powerful than the Batman one. That's something I didn't notice, oddly enough, when I saw it.

You were too mesmerized by that Bat-ass.

Joel said they didn't want to put that one close-up in there but when I saw it I screamed. I was on a plane and I was like, "Aaaah!"

I read where Attenborough said that this will be the first time you get to play your own age. What do you think of that?

It's good. I've done the quirky, happy go lucky goofball which I am to a certain degree but there's a whole other side of just being a woman.

I've read that you're getting over $10 million for this film. Do you find it odd that your salary is printed in the newspaper?

I find it hysterical. When I decide to do a film I tell the business people not to tell me what the money is. Period. I say, "Come back at the end and tell what you guys have worked out and we'll see what we can do." It just happens to be right now that that is such a statement for not only where you are in your career, but it seems to be something that people take a great interest in in representing women and saying, "It's about time." That's a nice quality of the money. The other great quality is that I immediately hand it over to my father and say, "You're in charge of this," and I can make my small films and not think twice about it. You can secure your family for the rest of their lives. I don't think twice about saying, "I'm going to buy my parents a car," or "I'm taking my best friends to Hawaii for two weeks."

From what I've gathered, you seem to assume the cruise director role in your circle of friends.

Yeah, but I like it. I panic when I can't be the perfect hostess.

Do you ever think, "If I stopped planning everything..."

...Nobody will be around. Totally.

Is it hard at this point to trust the new people you meet?

I trust everyone until they give me a reason not to. I'm still cautious. I don't get my diary and go, "Here."

"Here's some X-rays I've just had done."

"I want you to see how my prostate's looking this week." That's the hardest thing about this. All of the sudden your life changes. You're still doing the same things, your friends are still doing the same things but the people around you sort of do different things. You find out about people's intentions pretty quickly. I can blend in everywhere, but to have somebody close in your life you want them to be kind people, hard working, loyal friends.

What qualities can you not deal with?

I can't deal with people who taint all the goodness around them to make the goodness feel as rotten as they do - because I was there. Two years ago I was the victim, you know, "Nothing works for me, everyone is against me," and then you look at yourself and go, "I'm the problem." It's so simple what I like. I like people who know what they want out of life, whether they want to be a shoelace maker, I don't care, just have passion and I'll go along with you.

I understand you've started your own production company. What's it called?

Fortis Films. It means strength, perseverance. I'd given this woman that I work with this ring two years ago that said, "Fortis" on it because she was going through hard times and the day that I was trying to figure out the name, she goes what about this? (flips a bird) and I was like, "That's it."

I hear you're producing short films.

Yeah. We made a 20 minute one called The Mailman and it got into Sundance. The next one's called Making Sandwiches about a couple who run a sandwich shop. This is something that I wrote while my mom was sick. I was sleeping where she was in the hospital and for two days I just wrote it. I can't wait to make it.

••••••

You know you've made it when Barbara Walters wants to talk to you. Late last year, Sandra Bullock welcomed Walters to her rented Mississippi home for a heart to heart and some fishing. Aside from discussing Bullock's break up with actor Tate Donovan, about the most scandalous tidbit Walters could come up with was that Bullock had lied about her age. "I lied two years ago to get this part in Love Potion #9," Bullock told me in '93. "They said, "We want an older scientist." I go there and I say I'm 29. After a while, you have no idea how old you are because you've lied so many times. I always said I would never lie, but one time, when I didn't it worked against me. So I figure you just keep them guessing."

 

What was it like fishing with Barbara Walters? I really wanted you to push her in the lake just for laughs.

We sat there for so long trying to catch fish. I couldn't believe I was in the chair talking to Barbara Walters and it's like, 'What am I going to cry about? I have nothing to cry about.'

So she starts kicking you under the camera.

"Cry, cry, cry." I wanted to interview her because she's such an icon and everyone's heard everything I have to say. Right now, there's nothing. Push, pull, pinch, there's nothing.

With all these new films coming out, do you worry about being overexposed?

Absolutely. I need to lay low for a while. People are really going to get sick of me. That's why I chose A Time to Kill, because I'm not the center of attention in it but I still get to work. That's the bummer about it. In order to lay low, you have to stop working and I don't want to do that.

It must be a hard pull when you're finally getting the great scripts.

You want to do them all.

Are there things you can't do anymore given your high profile?

I can't pick my nose in the car anymore. (Laughs) I cannot leave the house looking too much like a scum queen. I love to go dancing and I don't think, "Oh, this is forbidden" when you grind with a guy. It's all about dancing for me. That's hard because whoever's with me gets pegged as the new husband.

If you could be anonymous for one day...

I'd go in my back yard in my underwear and know nobody gave a crap, not going, 'There's somebody watching me.'

Do you feel that people are watching you now?

I know people are watching. My neighbors watch. They sold out this wedding that I had for my friends Mark and Joel and I felt bad because it was such a beautiful, romantic ceremony. I did a reading from Dr. Suess's "Oh The Places You Will Go." The great thing about it is that it doesn't say everything's going to be great; some thing's are going to be bad, some people are going to say bad things, but you stick with your choices and know that we're here for you. Then I added my own little rhyme to say how I felt and everyone was watching me saying, "She's going down, she's going down."

Meaning she's going to start crying?

Yeah, which I did. They said, nobody could understand the last two sentences.

All the sudden subtitles appear in front of you.

Exactly. That's what happened. So I hope they didn't feel like it was ruined by the press.  What was great about is that it sent out a really good message but thank God I wasn't in my underwear.

What's the worst thing you ever read about yourself?

The ex-girlfriend of somebody I was seeing sold a story and said that he had said that I wouldn't make a good mother and that I was a phony and that I made him cringe. Out of all the things that were said - that apparently there was an affair going on - I could have cared less. It was the two lines where somebody had said that I wouldn't make a good mother and that's something that I always knew that I would be great at. Kids are the most important thing to me in my life. The reason I haven't had them yet is because I care for them too much to throw them into something that I can't protect them from. It really hurt my feelings that somebody could lie and say that and I knew it was a lie because something like that would never have come out of this person's mouth. It just shocked me so much that somebody could rock me to the very thing that means the most to me and I've never even met the person. The things that have happened to me this year bring out some ugly qualities in people that I can't possibly understand, but I'm a true believer in karma. You get what you give whether it's bad or good.

I just saw David Schwimmer's high school production of Anything Goes on Extra. Has any old stuff of yours started popping up?

Apparently my Jurassic Park audition is showing up. How mortifying. I've got a lot of bad work out there but if it wasn't for that work I wouldn't be sitting here. I would have known how to hit a mark or find my light. I'd be sitting in the dark fifty feet off my mark.

You've been with all your original handlers for years. Have you been courted by bigger agencies?

A little bit but they know how strongly I feel about the people that I'm with and obviously these people are doing a great job. Why would I want to leave?

Sometimes when people get to a certain level of fame you see them do something insane and you wonder if they have anyone around them who will be blatantly honest.

I know. I think I have that and then I'm like, but do I really?  My parents and my sister are brutally honest. I think I have a good group of people around me. I've made mistakes and I know why made them but I made that choice. Nobody's ever made a choice for me. I was lucky because it happened to me later. If I had been eighteen, it would have completely destroyed me. I was immature. I'm still immature but now I know what kind of immature I am and I can snap out of that and be an adult when I have to be.

Speaking of maturity, we've never discussed your cheerleading career. What stunt was your specialty?

Back handsprings and aerials because I was a gymnast. I basically became a cheerleader so I could see my boyfriend because I had a very strict mom who didn't want me to see him. That was my way of being a bad girl.

"Mom, if you don't let me see him, I'm going to cheer and cheer and cheer."

Which was the worst thing because my dad was a voice teacher and I was going to ruin my voice so I had to learn to cheer from the diaphragm. I sounded like a truck driver.

What was your favorite cheer?

First and Ten, Do It Again because I had no idea what first and ten was and I didn't have the balls to ask.

Why haven't we seen your acrobatic ability in a movie? I mean, would it have killed you to do a cartwheel in While You Were Sleeping?

I'll see if I can work that into the Attenborough film. All the sudden in the hospital...

"Nurse, can you go and get that I.V.?"

...and I'll do a flip and then act as though nothing happened.

What's something that you became a celebrity too late to enjoy that you would have loved, like doing The Muppet Show for example?

They're doing The Muppet Show again! I'm going on it! I love The Muppet Show so much I cannot even tell you.

Well, there's your cartwheel.

You might be right, but their stage is so small.

Who do you want your scene partner to be?

Kermit. I love Kermit.

What's something that you've been offered that you would love to do, but it would probably be a tacky career move?

I got a call to go to Berlin and be the host of The Face of the 90's pageant. I wanted to do it just for the cheese factor, just to see the girls backstage and how panicked they were because I was a contestant in the Flue Cured Tobacco Queen Festival, don't you know.

No, I didn't know. I can't believe you've been holding that back.

I needed money for school. I had this drag queen from school put me in this Bob Mackie gown and pile my hair up high. He taught me how to walk and he was backstage going, "Stop clunking!" Of course, the tobacco company owner's daughter won.  

Were you a Runner-Up?

I wasn't even that. I did a really good talent, though, a spicy little jazz number. That's what's going to show up on video.

•••••

The next morning, Sandra picks me up to go to breakfast. As she barrels onto the highway in her black Jeep, I realize I'm riding shotgun with one of the most unforgettable drivers in screen history and recall how when I asked Sandra back in '93 if she ever read her own reviews. Her response: "Yeah. My first review for the TV movie The Bionic Showdown said I was "as interesting as a bus ride." Perhaps Speed was her way of replying. "Yeah. I've got your exciting bus ride right here."

 

Did Speed make you a more aggressive driver?

I've always been an aggressive driver.

Is there going to be a sequel?

They're talking about it. If they can't come up with something that is just as thrilling and clever as the first one, there's no sense in it. Jan Depont, Keanu and I - even contractually - are saying, we won't do it without the others.

I think for the sequel you and Keanu should have to clean up the mess you made.

That's hysterical. We're on the clean up crew for the city. We get the orange suits. I'll bring that up at the next meeting.

Are they doing a "For Your Consideration" Oscar campaign for you for While You Were Sleeping?

Well, they called and said, "We'd like to do this," and I said, "That's your thing. Have a great time but just know that I'm not saying this is what I want at all."

You're not like, "Don't use that picture of me. Use this one."

Exactly. I could care less. Oscars are supposed to be given once you've had a large body of work and you're like sixty.

What's been the most glamorous night of your life?

The most unbelievable night that I've ever had was coupled up with one of the most stressful. The premier for The Net was the same night as my birthday. The first mistake of that night we call the Pink Walrus Episode because I put on some weight in doing Two If By Sea and then I poured myself into this pink Calvin Klein dress that was so tight I was bulging out from every seam.

Did you make the Star's 'Would you be caught dead in this' column?

It wasn't, 'Would you be caught?' it was, 'What was she thinking?' Then after the premiere, I had friends meeting me and we we're going to have a casual dinner. And I get there and my girlfriend, Shannon, had decorated and everybody was there. I didn't expect it. Then all the sudden you hear this chanting from a jazz bar in the next room and I walked in and there in front of me was Melissa Etheridge wailing this blues rendition of "Happy Birthday Sandy" that would just stop your heart. I couldn't stop smiling. Here I was, the big beaming pink walrus with this big cake with candles illuminating my shining pinkness and it was the greatest greatest greatest night of my life because I was the belle of the ball. I was the queen for a minute. I get goose bumps thinking about it.

•••••

In August of 1995, Sandra was on the cover of People Magazine with the headline, "Hot! Hot! Hot!"  At our first meeting, Sandra told me how excited her parents and sister were when she appeared in a tiny picture in the back pages of the magazine. "I haven't been able to warrant a cover," she laughed in '93. When I suggested revealing some childhood trauma might improve her chances, she claimed she really didn't have one, "except for the sixth grade boyfriend who dicked me over for the girl with bigger breasts."

 

In While You Were Sleeping, did you make up with that line where you say you have a flat chest just like your father?

Well, I've been making it up since I developed. (Director) John Turtletaub knew that I made jokes about it all the time and it was his idea to incorporate it. I wasn't sure how people would react to it and now I'm getting all these letters from people saying, "Don't worry about your breasts. I like your breasts. They're perfect." It seems like every tenth letter I open up is about my breasts. I'm the poster child for breasts.

Have you ever for one second considered implants?

Never. That's what the Wonderbra is for. I had a roommate that had it done and three times, her body rejected it. I have nothing against people doing things to make themselves feel better but my fear lies in what if something goes wrong and it slides down to your hips. Then you're dealing with liposuction. I feel really good in my body and that's something that I had to teach myself, to become really comfortable in my own skin.

If you could slip into a man's skin for one day, what would you like to experience?

I'd like to see me from the outside, from the male point of view because I always fear that it's hard for a guy to be with me. I'm probably every man's worse nightmare because I will not listen. I just do my own thing. Would I look at me and go, "Oh she's a hot little number," or, "She'd be a great sister to have?"

How did you learn the facts of life?

My mom gave me book with cartoon figures called "Where I Came From." I was very aware of the human body at a young age. I could have ended up being a really wild child. I loved boys and kissing and all that since I was a baby but I always knew that I would never dabble in the cesspool until a certain time.

What's something unconventional that you find really sexy in a man?

There's something sexy about a man's gut. I'm not talking a 400 pound beer gut that makes him tip over but I'm talking a little paunch. I love that because it just makes it okay for me to have a paunch if I should ever acquire one.

•••••

We arrive at the Cracker Barrel, one of Jackson's down homiest breakfast spots. Once we're seated, a couple at the next table compliment Sandra on While You Were Sleeping and ask for an autograph. The three of them talk for a minute or so, about what, I don't know, because I don't speak German. It was one of the few times of late, Bullock has gotten to use the language she picked up from her German opera singer mother and a childhood spent traveling around Europe.

 

Did you fly them in from Berlin just to you could show off your bilingualism?

Yes, I did.

Have you invested in an autograph stamp?

Nope, I've signed every one of mine. I don't want a stamp. If it takes me three years to sign, I'll take three years to sign.

This place is so Martha Stewart with the handicrafts.

Last year, my sister goes, "We need a wreath" so we got the Martha Stewart magazine and it had one of those Styrofoam rings that you stick frozen cranberries in with toothpicks. So we were sticking them in and they don't quite hold as well as you'd like so we were wondering what Martha might have done differently. I would have guessed, dipped the toothpick in glue, but my sister says, "Nah." So it turns out gorgeous and we hung it on the front door and every time we would come back home there was like 50,000 cranberries on the ground.

I have a hunch that Martha holds back one secret step just to maintain her superiority.

Also the thing is you don't see that Martha has a staff of 50 helping her.

That adorable colonial guesthouse is really sweatshop full of cheap immigrant labor.

Exactly.  But she's great though. She teaches you how to do stuff.

Did you ever do any commercials?

No, but I walked out of a Head and Shoulders audition. I'm glad to say that I was able to get where I got without doing a feminine hygiene commercial.

•••••

At our '93 meeting there was something about Bullock that reminded me of Julia Roberts. When I asked her if she'd ever been compared to the Pretty Woman, she looked at me like I had three heads. "That's a great compliment," she said, "but no. I get Justine Bateman a lot." These days Bullock and Roberts are often mentioned in the same breath.

 

Have you ever met Julia Roberts?

No, but it's so funny, all these references about competition. Why is there plenty of room for guys in this business and they don't pit them up against each other? It's so stupid. There's room for everybody. I think Julia and I should do a film where we make fun of this whole thing, like we're not even the leads. They just have an outtake of like a movie premiere where we get into a huge fight or something. That would be hysterical.

Has anyone ever come up and said that they were a fan that surprised you?

When other actors come up and say, 'I like your work' it floors me. It makes me feel so good. Like Ashley Judd came up and said, "I really liked what you did in this scene."

What scene was it?

It was from The Net where I was the phone with my mom. I said 'This is a one shot deal because I'm pulling out something that I don't want to pull out again.' It made me feel great that she noticed.

You did a good deal of computer hacking in that film. In your own life, are you a mouse or rolling ball kind of gal?

Rolling ball. Now they got that pad that I have to adjust to which is weird. What if you have sticky fingers?

Speaking of sticky fingers, I know you're a Kentucky Fried Chicken enthusiast. If you could meet Colonel Sanders...

...I'd cook him pasta, get him off that chicken thing. When I was like 12, I had a chicken named Colonel Sanders and he was not a chicken chicken. He liked people. He would stand on the top of your handlebars while you were riding your bike through the neighborhood.

When you were 10, your father was crushed by a bulldozer and was in the hospital for a year. What was that year like for you?

I remember having all these temper tantrums and crying a lot, and never taking into consideration that he was sick. He was dad and he was supposed to be there. I never once thought that he was going to die because my dad is invincible. I remember the night that we got the phone call and my mom breaking down and all these family members coming and me and my sister were sitting outside on the curb across from the house watching. It was dusk and there was this feeling that there was something wrong and real sadness there and I just remember the car taking off with my mom and I didn't want to say goodbye to her. Then everything got dark.

Were you ever a Girl Scout?

I was a Brownie for a day, but my mom made me stop. She didn't want me to conform. All I ever heard her say was "Be original," but when you're a kid that's the last thing you want to be. I just wanted to blend in. Now, It's like I totally got what she meant.

Did you go to your Prom?

Yeah. Worst experience of my life.

I thought the Working Girl TV series held that honor?

Okay, the prom was the worst dance experience of my life. My boyfriend and I broke up two weeks before and I didn't fit in the dress that was made because I put myself into an eating frenzy. He wouldn't let me dance with anybody and I was home like two hours later.

Were you into the fraternity/sorority scene when you were in college?

I was a little sister for the worst fraternity in the school that's now been condemned.

Tell me a nightmare frat party story.

I only have one. This guy that I really liked and I were drinking 'Shake Em Ups' which is Thunderbird and grapefruit juice. I don't remember anything that happened and apparently I was sick in front of him, on him, and beside him. He had to drag me to my dorm room and I didn't hear from him for a week. I was like, "This is just the worst" and then he called me and we dated almost two years.

It's like that old saying, "If you love something, puke all over it...

"...If it comes back, it's a good thing."

Who was your first boyfriend?

Don't print his name but his initials are G.D. Red hair. Irish. I have a thing for red haired Irish boys as we know.

You're referring to your ex-boyfriend Tate Donovan. Have you watched his Fox sitcom, Partners?

Yes, and he is so good. I was in the airport on a layover and I was watching the show and I was trying to be really inconspicuous about it because I knew that everyone knew I was sitting there and everyone knew the show was on.

And the next thing you know, you're on Hard Copy as the melancholy ex.

Exactly, but I had to watch the the whole show and everyone was talking and I was like, "Sshhh!"  But I couldn't like go over there and watch.

When we first met I had just been dumped and your advise was, "The only way to get over someone is to meet someone else." Still true?

Yes, absolutely. I'm not saying go out and sleep with them. I'm just saying go out and have a conversation and know that they find you attractive and go, "Okay, I'm not the piece of trash that I thought I was two days ago." Allow yourself a week or two to eat bonbons and be depressed but then make your friends take you out. The worst parts of being dumped or breaking up is the night time, going to sleep and wanting to fall asleep and wondering where they are every second of the time.

And the nanosecond you wake up, it's upon you again.

But the greatest thing is when one day you wake up and you don't feel it and you just go, "Aahh!"

Are you seeing someone now?

Yes, for about 10 months. Really sweet person. It's been rough because of all this that happened plus he's working all the time and I rarely get to see him. But for a year I was by myself trying to date and I'm telling you dating was the worst experience I ever had. I seem to have attracted everyone whose intentions were not the best.

Golddiggers?

Just people who's intentions were so not in tune morally with mine. They were nice people but they just weren't suited for me and that's hard because I seriously thought I'm never ever going to find anybody that will love me and just enjoy life.

You don't seem like the kind of girl who goes for, I guess you could call them trophy guys, like athletes or models or soap studs.

To me, whoever I'm dating is a trophy guy, but I know what you mean. I was at a point where I was like, "I'm not dating anyone who's like an actor" and I generalized and it wasn't fair because I met some people that aren't that way.

What's the most outrageous thing you've ever done in pursuit of a crush?

It's really embarrassing. I've never chased anybody like I did this person and I'm not saying who it is. I knew he was coming over, we were all going to eat and I was like, "How can I make him think that other people might want me so he might go, 'Maybe I should jump on it and stop stringing her along like the fool she is'." So I went to the florist and ordered $185 worth of flower arrangements, paid cash because I didn't want there to be any record of it and signed them in different handwriting.

Who did you say they were from, Your Secret Admirer?

Yeah totally.

Did the guy ever find out?

No and he's the kind of guy that goes to somebody's house he doesn't know and starts reading their mail, just out of curiosity so whatever I had lying out, you knew he would see. So I played on his nosiness. I left the room giving him enough time to open them all. And you know what? It was worth every penny I spent.

When you get married, where are you going to register?

Home Depot.

•••••

Before dropping me off, Sandra and I stop at Pier One imports where she buys a small green table in the shape of a frog. "It'll be a toilet paper stand for the office. Just stack 'em up there like a little pyramid so there's always a supply."

"At Fortis Films..." I say setting her up.

"We care about your butt," she says proudly.


As she methodically checks her table for balance, I decide Sandra Bullock is a woman who can get just as worked up about a $40 frog table as a $10 million opening weekend. Yes, this the same girl who confessed to me in '93 that she turned in her drivers license to movie theater manager, so she could sneak in to see herself in the trailer for Love Potion #9. "I can never enjoy anything when it happens," she said at the time, when I asked why she hadn't seen the whole movie. "It's always like two years later. I figure, 'If I enjoy this, I'm going to lose it'."  Back in the car, I remind her of this tendency.

 

Can you still not enjoy anything as it's happening?

I've gotten better at that. In terms of my success, no. It's just great work to me. But what I do really enjoy now is every day. Every experience that I have. Every time somebody tells me a story, I listen to it, I enjoy it. For so long, my senses were really deadened. All the sudden everything's become really really vibrant and I have three times more energy than I've ever had. So every once in a while I'll look at my friends and stop and go, "This is good. Right now. This is really good."

Have you ever been to a psychic?

No, but I threw this Halloween party for the crew here - we all went as the Village People. I was the Indian.

Did you do "YMCA," "Macho Man" or a medley?

"YMCA." We were very sensual. Anyway, I rented a palm reader for the evening and she takes my hand and says, "You have been a lot of men in your past lives and this is the first time you have been a complete woman and you are still struggling with wanting to run everything and those male qualities are still coming over but your female side is not being taken care of."

Do you buy it?

I don't know about the past lives but the thing about letting the female side be taken care of is totally true. She also said something about there being a lot of pain between two people who don't know and don't need to know.

Maybe you have some Shields and Yarnell baggage that you never let go.

That's very very very possible. I mean, everybody has it.

What song do you know all the words of?

"Rapper's Delight." I know all the words and I insist on singing them. I want every one to notice that I know all the words. It's very important.

More important than an Oscar campaign?

Absolutely.

What's your favorite song to dance to?

This film it's been "Brown Sugar" by D'Angelo. You can slow grind to it. Last film my favorite song was TLC, "Waterfalls." I made such a moron out of myself at the MTV Movie Awards. TLC were doing press in one room and I was in another and I had to go into their room and say something and here I am the Amazon Woman 'cause they're so tiny.

Do you know which one's which?

Yeah. You start with Lisa Lopez and then you go out from there.

Does it turn you on guy if a guy can dance?

Yes, and if he can't, as long as he's willing to try. I don't care if he's two feet tall with no hair and ears like Dumbo, if he can move, he's a sexy man.

Do you think good on the dance floor equals good in the sack?

I don't know. I've never met somebody, seen them dance, and then ended up dating them. It's always been start dating and then you're begging, "Please go dancing with me."

I know you're into salsa dancing. Do you ever say no when someone asks you to dance?

In the salsa ring, you don't say no. Dancing's the one time that I'm like, "Okay, you just be dominant." It's about finding somebody who's got your rhythm and once you find it you just want time to stand still.

Have you ever danced in a movie?

No, but there's one movie that we're developing sort of about the Cuban dancing and the rhythms of people.

Have you ever been in a music video?

No. I've always wanted to but I want it to be somebody I know like Keanu and his band. I'd want to be like the sexy, but funny, object of desire.

The Tawny Kittaen role.

I'll do splits between the cars. Okay, I gotta do one thing. (She inserts Osmonds CD I gave her last night into the stereo) Everyone has to sing along.

The great thing about the Osmonds, is that if you don't like a song, it's usually over in 2 minutes.

(We bounce through "Yo-Yo" and "One Bad Apple" then come upon an obscure Hendrix-influenced track, called "Hold Her Tight.")

They're a lot hipper than I remember them being.

This is the best. Barbara Walters didn't get Osmonds.

She didn't. She didn't bring Osmonds either. See. You get what you give.