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TIFF13: Sandra Bullock put through zero-g hell while filming Gravity By Richard Crouse Metro Canada September 9, 2013

gravity-sandra-bullockDirector Alfonso Cuarón described the process of making Gravity as “painful and gruesome” for his star Sandra Bullock.

“Bodily fluids come to mind,” says Bullock. “There was blood. Blisters.”

The Oscar winner plays Dr. Ryan Stone, an astronaut untethered from her space shuttle following a debris storm. Cut adrift from her ride back to earth and her space partner (George Clooney) she floats through the inky darkness until she discovers the will and a way to survive.

Initially the filmmakers considered using the “vomit comet”—a plane that allows you to achieve weightlessness—to create the zero gravity of space. When that idea was rejected new technology was built to facilitate the film’s thrilling and chilling outer space scenes.

“There were contraptions that took twenty minutes to get into,” says Bullock. “that harnessed you and locked you into something that you had no control over once it started.”

She describes long takes in really uncomfortable positions strung up like a marionette on a twelve-wire system, an office chair on a hydraulic lift, cameras that flew toward her and the frustration of being “attached to something and not being able to use your body the way you’re used to.”

“It was something completely new,” she says. “It was more like being part of Cirque du Soleil than what we had been used to as actors.”

The technical issues of the job were physically challenging—“I love it,” she says, “but I didn’t love it while I was doing it.”— but she adds that the shoot, emotionally, was “the Wild West.”

“Most of it was frustration and trying not to take your anger out on Alfonso. I had no one else listening to me but him so he got the brunt of it. But it was my frustration with myself because I didn’t have all the tools I was used to to get me where I wanted to go.”

“I missed being in the sun. I missed being with my son. I missed being with people and having communication. It was lonely. Luckily I got to get out of it at the end of the day and appreciate the sunshine or my boy.”

In the end the arduous shoot was worth it. There’s Oscar buzz surrounding Bullock’s performance and she even got the thumbs up from real life spaceman Chris Hadfield

“Sandra Bullock was great,” he tweeted. “I’d fly with her.”

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