Gravity - Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) ©2013 Warner Bros

With Oscar buzz written all over it, Alfonso Cuaron’s new space thriller Gravity opens on October 4th.

With its jaw-dropping visual effects, the movie tells the story of Dr Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock), a medical engineer on her first shuttle mission, and veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski (George Clooney), as they fight to return to earth safely after their routine mission turns into a disaster.

Sandra Bullock spoke about the movie at the press day for the film.

It’s so unexpected to see you in a role like this. What was your reaction when you got offered it?

Gravity – Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) ©2013 Warner Bros

I’ve always longed to do emotionally and physically what my male counterparts always got to do. I just felt envious, every time I saw a movie that I was in awe of and it was usually a male lead. Those kind of roles weren’t available, they weren’t being written.

In the last couple of years things have shifted. Jonas and Alfonso wrote this specifically as a woman, it wasn’t an afterthought. It was the integral part of the story.

I don’t want to say revolutionary, but the fact that a studio, on blind faith, would fund something as unknown as this is revolutionary. So to be able to be the person to do it is beyond humbling.

What did you have to do training-wise, as there’s a lot of floating and spinning around in this movie?

Gravity – Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) ©2013 Warner Bros

You had to retrain your body from the neck down to react and move as if it was in Zero G without the benefit of Zero G moving your body. Everything that your body reacts to with a push or a pull on the ground is completely different than it is in Zero G.

To make that second nature took training and weeks of repetition, and then syncing it with Alfonzo’s camera and the mechanics and the mathematics of it all. And then just separating that from your head, where you had to connect to the emotion and tell the emotional story.

Did you ever worry that you were the only person on-screen for long periods of time?

Gravity – Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) ©2013 Warner Bros

I never thought about that. You had the story, the elements that Jonas and Alfonso wrote, the technology was a constant character around you, [as] were the visuals. I always went back to ‘What was in their heads that I need to honor and help execute.’

I never once thought ‘I’m the only person’ because there’s George, who’s a vital part of this film, who represents Life and this outlook on living. If you don’t have that, this film couldn’t exist.

I never thought about that until I started doing press, and now everybody’s freaking me out going ‘How do you feel that this rests on you?’ I’m going ‘How is this now my problem?

I didn’t write this or produce it or come up with the cockamamie idea to make a space movie.’ (she laughs) I still don’t think about it because I think I’m third or fourth on the list [after] the story, the emotional visuals, the sounds, the experience of what they’ve created.

You had to go to some pretty dark places as a mom in this role. Was that difficult for you?

Gravity – Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) ©2013 Warner Bros

Oh yeah. No one wants to think about that. I just kept thinking “What a strange job.” I mean, who is young and goes “I want to do this for a living.” But if I personally can’t feel it, I can’t do it.

I kept having to say, in the beginning, “What would I do” and I realized I might be far worse off than she is. So, you just have to go there and know that at the end of the day you can unplug. And you can go home and do something that a lot of parents can’t.

I asked Sandra what her first reaction was when she saw the completed film? Click here to listen to her answer

We were also very privileged to have two astronauts from NASA, Dr Michael J Massimino and Dr Catherine ‘Cady’ Coleman, with whom we discussed the movie. I made a remark early in the press conference that I felt kids seeing this film might think twice about becoming astronauts – click here to listen to their replies to that suggestion!

Judy Sloane

Judy is Film Review Online's regular Los Angeles based reporter.