In her new comedy All About Steve, Sandra Bullock plays Mary Horowitz, a crossword puzzle constructor whose brain spins at warp speed with an endless stream of arcane information. After she goes on a blind date with cable-news cameraman Steve (Bradley Cooper) she believes they are an item. In fact, she’s so obsessed with him that she writes a crossword puzzle where every clue is ‘All About Steve,’ which dumfounds the newspaper’s readers and leads to her to be fired.
Now free from that obligation, she decides to relentlessly pursue Steve as he crisscrosses the country, covering breaking news stories.
Why did you choose to be a blonde in this?
I saw Mary that way. When I read it, I didn’t see me. You read something and you go, “If it were me in it, it wouldn’t have the same lightness and sweetness.” Mary’s an amalgamation of our writer, Kimberly Barker, and a 3½-year-old little girl that I spend a lot of time with.
I didn’t think you could suspend your belief as easily [unless I changed the way I looked], unless I went, “Okay, wipe out everything you know of me, as much as you can, and here’s this sweet person, based on several people that I think are pretty amazing and special.”
How did you relate to your character? Did you have anything in common?
Yeah, very much so; it’s that part of us that we’re told to lose once we become an adult. It’s that freedom of expression, joy, excitement and innocence. I had a lisp that I had to get rid of; I had to have speech therapy. I just go, “Why did I need to get rid of a lisp? What is normal?” Why can’t we embrace adults like her? We’re very excited to embrace children like that, but we don’t trust adults who are naive, kind and happy. We want that jaded, cynical and street wise [person]. Why is that?
Your character is the Queen of Trivia. What was that like to play?
My head is filled with so much crap, or facts that I find important, but that some others don’t. Kim Barker’s train of thought is brilliant, in the knowledge of things that she has. All the knowledge that I have doesn’t necessarily make me brilliant, but I love acquiring knowledge and then sharing it with everybody else. I love trivia. I love the knowledge of stuff, and I get very excited about it, very much like Mary Horowitz.
How difficult was it for you to remember all of this dialogue?
What’s weird, and most actors will probably attest to it, is that when you have a full page of well-written dialogue that has a thought process to it, it is pretty easy to memorize. It’s a lot easier to memorize than if you’re in a scene and other people are talking, and you have maybe one word or one sentence that you have to interject at the right time and in a natural way. The one-page monologue is far easier to memorize.
Your character is at peace with all of her flaws, by the end of the film. Do you have any flaws that you’re at peace with now?
We think we have all these flaws, but Mary Horowitz didn’t think she was flawed. Society made her feel flawed and questioned how she lived her life. She questioned it and made everything all about Steve, thinking, “I must go on this path because that’s what society says,” and she realized it wasn’t right for her. But, she met others like her that validated that they aren’t flaws. They are unique traits that make special human beings.
Why is it that young boys and men are unique and eccentric and are mavericks when they’re different, but women are odd when we are eccentric or different? I’ve made peace with the fact that the things that I thought were weaknesses or flaws were just me, and I like them. But, it took me a while to figure it out.
This character is very sweet and determined, but everyone else labels her as a stalker. How do you feel about that label?
It depends on what side you’re looking at it from. It’s not a he said, she said. But she heard society saying, “You’re not living a normal life,” so she started to doubt herself. At the same time, this guy Steve says, “I wish you could be with me, but you have a job.” She doesn’t think twice about that, until she loses her job and says, “Maybe it’s the universe saying that I need to go in this direction. I was invited.” [In the end].I didn’t want her to change at all. I wanted her to continue being who she was, and be okay with it.
Have you ever been a clue in a crossword puzzle?
I have, and I get that one every time. I get very excited and I’m like, “I know that one!” But the other ones, not so much.