Whether an FBI agent in Miss Congeniality, a tough-as-nails boss in The Proposal, or a suburban wife and mother in The Blind Side, Academy Award winning actress and film producer Sandra Bullock was born with a gift most actors can only dream of – the ability to transform herself into just about anyone. Now Bullock is at it again as the world’s first female super-villain. In Disney Pixar’s latest animated film Minions, Bullock voices the glamorous, ambitious, and forward-thinking villain, Scarlett Overkill
The movie, a spin-off of the Despicable Me franchise, is a story about little yellow creatures called Minion who live to serve but find themselves without a master to grovel for –leaving them in a deep depression. The three (3) main characters, Kevin, Bob, and Stuart, eventually set out on a journey that will see them recruited by the villainous Scarlet Overkill, voiced by Bullock. “It’s fantastic because she’s justified, she’s misunderstood,” explains Bullock. “She’s an 8-year old little girl who’s throwing temper tantrums because she wants what she wants. It was really fun to play.”
Exploring the world of animation was by no means a walk in the park as Bullock puts it. She struggled with maintaining energy and enthusiasm when locked alone in a sound booth for hours on end. “It’s hard because I like having other actors to play off of or other minions to play off of and I didn’t have that,” she says. “So you really discover a lot of what you don’t know, you really rely on the director and the whole team that’s behind that sort of glass partition to help guide you.”
Though she gleams when talking about Minions, she confessed it might be her first and last animated role. “It was so hard and I don’t think it’s my forte,” she says. “I don’t think I’m as good at it as other people are.”
Bullock has been an actress for as long as she can remember. Born in the summer of 1964 in Arlington, Virginia, Bullock made her first stage debut at the age of five in an opera house in Germany, further fueling her passion for performing. However, Bullock’s childhood was largely spent on the road in Europe, and while she appeared regularly in the Nuremburg children’s choir in Germany, she spent most of her time studying music and dance on her travels. But at the age of 12, her family moved back to the Washington D.C. area and Bullock lived a “normal” teenage life; she became a cheerleader and joined her school’s theater production. She graduated high school in 1982 and enrolled in East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina, but in 1986, she dropped out three credits shy of a bachelor’s degree, and on a whim, moved to New York City eager to dive head first into a serious acting career.
The aspiring actress at the time used waitressing and bartending to support herself as she took acting classes at the Neighborhood Playhouse Theater. Bullock landed her first gig at just 21 in the off-Broadway production No Time Flat. A handful of Bullock’s roles after that were often mediocre parts in television shows or B-rated movies. But 1994 the box-office hit Speed, where Bullock stared as the movie’s leading lady, Annie, put the 50-year-old actress’ name on the map. Now, as they say, the rest is history. “I don’t think anyone had any idea what was going to happen with that film,” Bullock explains about her success in the film Speed. “If someone says they did, they’re lying.”
In 2009, Bullock had yet another career breakthrough – she was nominated and won the Academy Award for Best Actress and a Golden Globe for her role as Leigh Anne Tuoghy in The Blind Side. “[This movie] was just the kind of challenge I thought I needed at this time of my career,” Bullock explains. “I would either pull it off or look like a fool doing it.”
From All About Steve in 2009 to Gravity in 2013, and the creation of her production company Fortis Films, Bullock’s career has travelled at lightning speed since she got her start in the early 90s. But life took a dramatic twist when Bullock adopted her son Louis (pronounced LOU-ee) in January 2010. “Work was my life before but now I have no reason to leave home,” Bullock says. “I’m having such an amazing time. Whatever comes our way, we handle as a family. It’s not just me anymore.”
When People magazine’s “Most Beautiful Woman” isn’t jetting from one film to the next, she calls Austin, Texas her home and gushes it’s where she “feels like herself.” After nearly 40 films, Bullock’s leading man is now Louis, and the two remain inseparable – one of the reasons she did Minions. “I wanted to make something my son could see and watch and enjoy, even though he doesn’t know what I do and he doesn’t know it’s me – I can sit in the theater and watch him,” explains Bullock. “Nothing makes me happier than hearing that boy laugh, [by] physical humor and animation so hopefully I’ll be able to do that.”
Minions premiered July 10, racking up $115.2 million in North America, which made it the second biggest animated film opening in history. The beloved film is still playing in theaters across South Florida.