Have you seen Bird Box yet? Seems like everybody’s at least heard about the Netflix phenomenon, and we’re frankly super happy that Sandra Bullock is back in the conversation because she’s a queen and we love her.
So how do you make a movie where the main character is blindfolded 90% of the time? How did Bullock work with kid actors she couldn’t see? Why was John Malkovich essential to the film’s emotional core?
Keep reading to find out!
1. Sandra Bullock and director Susanne Bier passed on the film.
Yikes! But yep, Bullock initially didn’t want to do the film, and Bier thought it was just too dark. But then things changed in the real world and started feeling more dystopian, so the script made more sense to make.
Bier also felt the film offered a new take on motherhood. Via Variety:
I guess I’ve always felt that motherhood is mainly defined by men and for many hundreds of years is automatically thought of as being soft, caring, naturally nurturing, calm. There are a lot of things that are part of our idealized vision of motherhood, but I always thought it was much more complex, much more ferocious.
In a post-Trump world, end-of-the-world films do seem to be A LOT more popular…
2. A blind instructor gave Bullock and the cast lessons on being sightless.
How can somebody convincingly play somebody who can’t see where they’re going?
Sandra explains how essential her instructor was. From People:
“I said, ‘What is it that the [blind] community wants represented on screen?’ He said, ‘I’d like for us to finally see our abilities rather than our disabilities,’” she explained. “It’s mind-blowing what abilities they have even though they don’t have their sight.”
She continued, “In the few times that we met, [we] were able to take away a few lessons like if we were blindfolded we could walk in this room, we could tell you were the people were, where the walls were if there was an object there.”
I see what she did there!
3. The child actors made it through traumatic scenes thanks to Bullock.
Julian Edwards and Vivien Lyra Blair go through hell in the film, including navigating a raging river without their sight. Not only that, their mother (Malorie played by Bullock) routinely screams at them and only calls them Boy and Girl.
Bullock has been in the business for a while now, so she helped ease the actors’ anxiety by working with the 5-year-olds before each take.
“If I had to grab them roughly and drag them around, we always practiced, and they let me know what was comfortable, what wasn’t.”
Bullock said Julian and Vivien are very talented. She pointed out that Vivien, in particular, got very anxious while filming because she “feels things so deeply. Just the anticipation of something would make her very afraid, and that’s what makes her such a great actor.”
4. John Malkovich helped Sandra Bullock with those ugly cries.
Bullock just couldn’t get those tears flowing while filming a scene with her love interest in the film. That’s when co-star John Malkovich helped out.
We were in this house, and it had a tin roof… I have to remember what I experienced watching my sister [perish]. I would be in the middle of it telling this to Tre, and he would be listening intently, and then an acorn would drop on the ceiling.
It was like raining acorns, and I just couldn’t do the scene. Then, out of the blue, John Malkovich comes around the corner and puts his arms around me really tight and just holds me for, like, a few seconds and walks off. He just took the shut down away and then the waterworks came.
Stone cold pro.
5. Nobody knew the creatures’ appearance.
There was a plan to actually show the creatures on screen at some point, and so they did develop some pretty gnarly looking monsters that almost made the film.
Screenwriter Eric Heisserer worked out a physical manifestation, but no thanks to the author of the book, Josh Malerman.
“I adore him, and he’s a great guy and is full of crazy ideas. His answer to me was, ‘Oh, I have no idea, Eric.’ I was like, ‘Well damn, Josh, I’m in a tight spot now but okay.'”
Eventually, the inspiration for the look came:
I did like the idea that these were entities from either another part of the galaxy or another dimension, some creatures that are not from here. And their means of communication are entirely visual, and they are looking for something that can understand them, but the problem is it breaks our brains.
Convinced you should see the film now?
Thought so. 🙂