The Blind Side tells the remarkable true story of All-American football star Michael Oher, who currently plays for the Baltimore Ravens.
Sandra Bullock, in one of her best performances ever, portrays Leigh Anne Tuohy, the woman who took Oher into her family when he was a homeless teenager, and eventually adopted him.
You’re playing a person who’s real but not famous, were you trying to capture Leigh Anne’s spirit or imitate her?
That’s a tough one because I do think that I tried to get as close to Leigh Anne as possible.
I felt a great sense of obligation to be true to her wonderful dynamic energy.
John Lee Hancock (the director) could not explain Leigh Ann to save his life, and when I met Leigh Anne, I said, ‘Now I know why you can’t, because she’s an original.’
There’s such a dynamic that exists between [Leigh Anne, her husband Sean] and their children that you wanted to pay homage to them, I wanted to do it as closely as I could.
What was it about the character of Leigh Anne on the page, before you got to meet her and work with her, that appealed to you as an actress?
Initially, when I was approached with the film, it was a beautifully written story. I did not know how to play Leigh Anne, I didn’t know how to approach it or what I could bring to it, so I just kept saying, ‘No, this is not going to work for me.’ Then John said, ‘Why don’t you just come meet Leigh Anne?’
So I met Leigh Anne for the whole day and I left there completely exhausted because of the energy she has, but in love with this human being, and who she is at this time on the planet.
But I still didn’t know how to play her, had no idea. I didn’t know how to bring her to life and be truthful and do a good job with it. I don’t know at what point I said yes, I don’t recall. I don’t think I ever really agreed to do the film!
What was it about this story that really resonated with you the most?
The inspiring part of this movie is, here’s this family that does this [deed]. They didn’t do it because someone was writing an article or a book or making a movie, they did it because their instincts said this is what we’re going to do, we’re going to give love and reach out a hand.
Everyone came and questioned them, of course. We don’t trust anyone who does anything nice, that’s just the sad world we live in. But they didn’t care, and they kept going and it makes you feel like you need to step up your game.
So whatever wonderful actress was going to play Leigh Anne Tuohy, it was going to be an inspirational story, a true life story that we’re capable of so much more than we think we are, because we don’t really live in a world that supports the good that we could do. They all want us to do something bad, so it sells some papers.
What impact did Leigh Anne have on you? Months later do you think, I should do that because that’s what Leigh Anne would do?
That’s what I would say on set, ‘What would Leigh Anne do?’ The nice thing is we get to play these people and get to experience lives that we normally would never come in contact with.
One of my biggest questions [for me] was how people use their faith in their religion as a banner and then they don’t do the right thing. But they go, ‘I’m a good Christian and I go to church, and this is the way you should live your life.’
I told Leigh Anne in a live interview we had, ‘One of my largest concerns stepping into this was that whole banner-hold, it scared me because I’ve had experiences that haven’t been great. I don’t buy a lot of people who use that as their shield.’ And she was so open and honest and forthright, I said, ‘Wow, I’ve finally met someone who practices [their faith] but doesn’t preach.’
Leigh Anne has no idea the path she’s begun in terms of adoption and fostering, it’s not been on the forefront of people’s minds. It is on the forefront of my mind every day now when I get up. When I look around I go, ‘Is he? Is she? What is their situation?’ And it’s because of this family.
I don’t think they realize the profound affect that they are going to have on this country. You see this family, they wanted to reach out, lend a hand, and had no idea that they would get a son in return.