Back to IndieWire

10 Highlights From Sandra Bullock and Alfonso Cuarón at the ‘Gravity’ Press Conference In Toronto

10 Highlights From Sandra Bullock and Alfonso Cuarón at the 'Gravity' Press Conference In Toronto

If you’ve been keeping up with the fall festival circuit, you know that Alfonso Cuarón’s “Gravity” has made something of a splash at not just one major stop, but the trifecta of Venice, Telluride, and Toronto. At the TIFF press conference, Cuarón, his son and co-writer, Jonás, Sandra Bullock and producer David Heyman sat down to field questions on both the technical aspects and emotional core of what some are calling the modern heir to “2001: A Space Odyssey.” Absent was co-star George Clooney, though Sandra assured the audience that her close friend of 20+ years has not changed a bit, and was as integral to the process as ever. Below are ten culled quotations from the team on the making of “Gravity.”
Alfonso Cuarón on what was purported to be a lengthily casting process (Angelina Jolie was originally tapped for Dr. Ryan Stone): “[It’s the] holy Internet. Any casual conversation becomes ‘they are going to make a movie together.’ There were people we talked to seriously, but we were not ready to make this film. It took four and a half years to make, and we were ready to start having real serious conversations roughly two and a half years ago, when Sandra and I met. Before that, [rumors] just happened because of relationships that you have with people. Immediate conversations.”
Sandy anti-VOD? Bullock on her favorite part of the TIFF premiere: “Watching an audience have different reactions. We’re lucky we can have nice TVs in our house, and experience sort of Surround Sound, and not leaving your bed, but I think going to the movie theater with people, and having that shared experience…we’re losing that a little bit, and we need to get it back.”
Cuarón on his initial meeting with Sandra: “The beautiful thing for me was for all of that afternoon and evening, we didn’t talk about space, we didn’t talk about techniques, we didn’t talk about action films or anything, we were just talking about the themes. And for me, it was very clear how Sandra was so in tune with the theme of the film, which was adversities. Adversities and the possible outcome as a rebirth. For me, it was one of those moments where I said, ‘Wow, I have a collaborator.’ Between Jonas and I having conversations with Sandra, we shaped the whole thing into her voice.”
Mark Heyman on the perils of the high-tech camera work: “The day before we started shooting, [the rig] didn’t work. When Sandra talks about this two ton robot coming on the track, at a really fast speed, and stopping on a dime, it has to stop on a dime, because if it doesn’t, it goes straight through her face.”
Bullock on building a performance mitigated by technology:  “[The audience] is getting the story from not just what the humans are saying, but from what visually is happening, or from sound. [As an actor], you have to go back to what is in your head, and what you want to do, and what does Alfonso want to say here, that he’s going to be saying visually, musically, that I then don’t have to repeat.”
Jonás Cuarón on penning the script with his father: “Our goal was to create a thrilling, nail-biting narrative that kept you going for 90-minutes, but at the same time, we managed to juggle larger themes, and put the audience through an emotional ride. We discussed what themes we wanted to talk about, and for several personal reasons at that point, it made sense for us to talk about adversities. They’re something that’s very human, and we can all relate to, and through them we can grow.”
Bullock on the benefits of fear-inducing material: “I appreciate not being in my comfort zone, because that means I’ve gotten as far away from myself as possible. To play myself would be so boring for an audience. To be out of your comfort zone, as I learned on “Gravity,” unlocks things that scare you, frustrate you, make you so insecure, but it also forces you to dig very deep. I think we get so comfortable on sets, we have a habit of repeating things, even though it’s not conscious. The whole thing was an experiment in what you have, that you don’t know you have. We’re just so comfortable, we’re never challenged unless a disaster happens.”
Cuarón on Steven Price’s score: “He understood that we were not going to use sound. There is no sound in space. We wanted to have an immersive sense that you were experiencing it from the POV of an astronaut floating in space. Steve designed music that came from different speakers in the theater. Sometimes a harmony starts in one, and connects with another, and then a third. Musically, it is very complex. And I gave him a big limitation: no percussions. For two reasons. First, it’s a cliché of action movies, and also, because percussions would sound as if we were cheating in space. They travel through sound the farthest, so we wanted to limit it to something textural.”
Bullock on her immersive training regimen: “I wanted to remove what she looked like as a woman, what reminded her of being feminine and motherly, just so that the body was a machine. That was training months before we started shooting, and every single day. There was no lunch.”
The Cuaróns on their decision to make the protagonist a female astronaut: “It had to do with the theme of nurturing. We never considered another gender, it was organic. Before we baptized her as ‘Ryan’ in the screenplay, she was just called ‘The Woman.’ She was there from the very first pages.” Added Jonás, “For us, it was very important to have a female presence because of possibility of rebirth.”

Watch the entire press conference below:

Sign Up: Stay on top of the latest breaking film and TV news! Sign up for our Email Newsletters here.

This Article is related to: Features and tagged , ,

Get The Latest IndieWire Alerts And Newsletters Delivered Directly To Your Inbox