From ‘Speed’ to ‘Gravity’: 7 Roles That Show Us Just How Versatile Sandra Bullock Is

Sandra Bullock is and has starred in many blockbusters and box office gems, but there’s something to be said about Bullock’s versatility. Bullock has roamed through all genres – from the horror thriller Premonition to the cop-comedy The Heat – and she’s played the most diverse set of roles any actor could hope to play.

Let’s have a look at seven of those roles, and take a moment to praise Sandra Bullock’s outstanding ability to make us fall in love with her movie after movie.

Speed (1994)

Keanu Reeves & Sandra Bullock - Speed

Keanu Reeves & Sandra Bullock – Speed

Staring alongside Keanu Reeves, Sandra had her real breakthrough in Speed. In this action feature, Bullock plays Annie Porter – a woman who “loves her car and misses her car” and who is always late to catch her bus. She’s friendly, but doesn’t like small talk and has a hard time dealing with authority figures. Annie is also an Arizona Wildcats fan.

Once it is discovered that there is a bomb on the bus she’s on, and the bus driver – her friend – gets shot, Annie takes the wheel and has the ride of her lifetime. She runs over red lights, dents a few parked cars and even throws a baby stroller in the air – which thankfully only had empty cans and no baby. She is SWAT officer Jack Traven’s right arm and helps him get all the passengers safely off the bus. Annie and Jack unavoidably fall in love with each other, as they go through some life-or-death situations and Jack rescues Annie time and again.

Annie Porter and Jack Traven - Speed

Annie Porter and Jack Traven – Speed

They live happily ever after – up until Speed 2.

While You Were Sleeping (1995)

Lucy saves her crush

Lucy saves her crush

In this Jon Turteltaub’s romantic comedy, Sandra Bullock plays Lucy Moderatz, a token collector in Chicago. Lucy is a dreamer and a die-hard romantic who develops a crush on Peter Gallagher, a commuter she sees every day. When Peter is mugged and pushed onto the tracks, Lucy doesn’t think twice before jumping after him and risking her life to save his. Unfortunately, Peter knocks his head and goes into a coma, and Lucy ends up being listed as his fiancee at the hospital.

She knows she should come out with the truth from the beginning, but for many reasons she doesn’t. This is the first time she’s ever been part of a family, Peter’s grandmother has a heart condition and Lucy doesn’t wish to upset her and, lastly, there’s Peter’s brother Jack (Bill Pullman). In spite of his distrust of her, Lucy ends up falling in love with Jack as well, and things just get tougher when Peter wakes up. Suddenly, he doesn’t remember anything and believes he is to marry Lucy – which she now is torn about because of Jack.

Lucy and Jack - While You Were Sleeping

Lucy and Jack – While You Were Sleeping

Lucy’s strength and character are the saving grace of the whole mess, and she admits to loving Jack instead of Peter in the end. When a confused Peter asks her when she fell in love with his brother, she answers him:

“While you were sleeping.”

Practical Magic (1998)

The Owens Sisters

The Owens Sisters

Based on Alice Hoffman’s novel of the same name, Practical Magic revolves around two witch sisters, Sally and Gillian Owens. Sandra Bullock plays Sally, the quiet sister of the feisty Gillian (Nicole Kidman). Sally’s and Gillian’s main goal is to end the Owen family curse, which causes the death of any man the sisters fall in love with. To protect herself, Sally casts a true love spell, while her sister leaves for Los Angeles.

All seems well with Sally, who finds a loving husband and has two daughters, until the curse makes her a widow. She becomes depressed and decides to forgo any magic, but her sister Gillian needs her help. Sally ends up killing Gillian’s abusive boyfriend, Jimmy (Goran Visnjic) and a detective comes to town to investigate. Detective Gary Hallet (Aidan Quinn) turns out to be exactly the man described in Sally’s love spell and, even though she’s falling for him, she keeps her distance.

Until she doesn’t!

After many tries, Sally is able to release Gillian from Jimmy’s ghost and detective Gary declares his love for Sally – even after he sees her practicing magic. Sally gets her happily-ever-after with her two girls and Gary, and the Owen women are finally free to practice their magic.

28 Days (2000)

Gwen trashes her sister's wedding

Gwen trashes her sister’s wedding

In 28 Days, Sandra Bullock plays the rehabilitating journalist Gwen Cummings. After Gwen destroys her sister’s wedding – by arriving at the ceremony drunk and smashing the wedding cake – she crashes a limousine into a house and gets sent to rehab. Gwen has to deal with her inability to acknowledge her alcohol abuse problem, as well as with the other patients in treatment. At first, she chooses the easy way out and, when her (also alcoholic) boyfriend brings her some drugs, she quickly yields to temptation.

Gwen makes some really bad choices along her treatment – like climbing out of a window and twisting her ankle – and she is made to face the harsh reality of what her drug abuse has done to her family and friends. Gwen discovers that she’s determined and stronger than her vices, and she also finds that she is able to develop relationships without the aid of any chemicals. She breaks off with her boyfriend, makes amends with her sister and starts a new life for herself. Her final step is to buy a plant – as suggested to her in the therapy – because if she can take care of the plant, she knows she’ll be able to not hurt anyone she loves ever again.

Miss Congeniality (2000)

the iconic Grace Hart

the iconic Grace Hart

In the same year that she played the distraught Gwen, Sandra also starred in the comedy Miss Congeniality as FBI detective, Grace Hart. Grace has always been a tomboy and she seems to have found her place among the elite FBI agents. She’s dorky and somewhat masculine, but finds herself being sent as a covert agent to the Miss United States pageant to investigate a bomb threat. With the help of pageant coach Victor Melling (Michael Caine), Grace blossoms as a astonishingly beautiful woman, much to the awe of her partner Eric Matthews (Benjamin Bratt).

Grace investigates multiple suspects during her time in the pageant and befriends some contestants. Even after the threat is dismissed by the Bureau – when they arrest the alleged terrorist – Grace sticks to her guts and eventually unravels the real culprits and the plot to kill the next Miss USA. Grace is then elected Miss Congeniality by her fellow contestants and starts a romance with her partner Eric – knowing that “he wants to kiss her, he wants to hug her and he wants to love her”.

The Blind Side (2009)

Leigh Ann and her adoptive son Michael

Leigh Ann and her adoptive son Michael

In this semi-biographical drama, Sandra Bullock plays Leigh Anne Tuohy, a mother of two, wife and business woman who takes a homeless Michael Oher (Quinton Aron) into her home. Leigh Anne is a strong, family-oriented and fair woman, and she takes it upon herself to provide Michael with a home, after he is accepted into the same private school her kids go to. Although he is imposing and even intimidating at times, Michael is a docile teen, who ends up getting along just fine with the Tuohys and their upperclass lifestyle.

Leigh Anne pushes him to his full potential – both academically and in his prospective football career – and she’s fierce when it comes to defending his abilities and his safety. She even goes as far as intimidating a drug dealer from Michael’s old neighborhood and taking over football practice to pass her own instructions to her ‘kid’. Because of the Tuohy’s efforts, dedication to and acceptance of Michael, he gets his second chance in life, graduating from school – despite an originally very low GPA.

Leigh Ann to the drug dealer

Sandra Bullock got her first Oscar nomination for The Blind Side, and she won it over the likes of Hellen Mirren and Meryl Streep – both of whom had won before. She also snagged the Golden Globe and the Screen Actors Guild Award, and The Blind Side to date.

Gravity (2014)

Adrift in space

Adrift in space

This gave Sandra Bullock her second Oscar nomination for her portrayal of Dr. Ryan Stone, a biomedical engineer on her first mission into space. Dr. Ryan shares the mission with Matt Kowalski (George Clooney), a veteran astronaut on his last voyage. They are doing some repairs on the Hubble Telescope, when debris from a recently destroyed Russian satellite comes at them in high speed. When the debris hits the Hubble, Ryan gets thrown into a wild spin and Matt manages to get to her using a Maneuver Unit.

Ryan never gives up

Ryan never gives up

They plan to get to the International Space Station before the debris comes back around and Ryan shares some of her background with Matt on the way. The ISS is basically destroyed as well and, as they then travel to the Japanese Station, Ryan gets trapped in a parachute and Matt sacrifices himself to save her. Ryan struggles with the awful reality of her conditions – as the station she’s in doesn’t have fuel to go anywhere – and is about to give up when she conjures up a vision of Matt, who tells her exactly how to proceed. Eventually, after speaking to an eskimo on Earth and facing much hardship, Ryan descends to Earth in a lake. She’s worn, naked and disbelieving, but she’s alive and finally home – like a true survivor.

Creative Commons

Creative Commons

Sandra Bullock’s roles simply reflect the myriad of qualities she’s shown us throughout her acting career. From being , to , to Number 2 in and , Sandra has cemented her status as an A-list actress and producer in Hollywood – and our hearts.

No matter what your favorite movie genre is, you’re bound to have at least one of Sandra Bullock’s movies that made her memorable in your eyes. For me, it was Speed (with her courage and sassy performance), but what about you?

Which movie made Sandra Bullock a name to be remembered for you? Let me know in the comments!


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