A kooky, eccentric single girl down on her luck gets set up with a super-hot guy and chases him all over the country, while he gets the wrong impression and thinks she’s a crazy stalker, and yuks ensue. Does this sound like a romantic comedy to you? Probably so, don’t tell that to Sandra Bullock, star of All About Steve with Bradley Cooper and Thomas Haden Church. She insists that she’s just making a straight comedy about a quirky cruciverbalist (aka crossword puzzle enthusiast) in big red boots named Mary Horowitz who bucks under society’s expectations of her.
“This isn’t a romantic comedy,” she states firmly. “Why should it be? It’s just as loving and funny and unique without needing her to end up with the guy. That’s the reason I made the film. Why does Mary Horowitz have to end up with the guy to be a complete woman, but we don’t do that to men? Why can’t we women have a diverse selection of comedies to play in and be actors in and make people laugh with? Why do we always end up being the woman who thankfully gets the guy?”
Bullock goes on to say that she’s trying to break the mold for new generations. “If I can do anything at this time of my career, it’s to make it easier for other actresses and girls who are growing up to go ‘you know what, I get to be a part of a comedy or an action film or a romantic comedy or a thriller without having to wind up with someone to complete us.’ I complete me. I just got lucky that after I completed myself, I met someone who could tolerate me.” That would be her husband, Monster Garage star Jesse James.
This, of course, isn’t bashing what she’s cut her teeth on. “I love good romantic comedies,” she insists. “There just aren’t a lot of them. But I love comedies and I’ll never stop doing them.”
Then what is the point of All About Steve? It’s about a woman accepting that what other people see as flaws – obsessing over her vocabulary, relating everything to crossword puzzles, constantly and excitedly spewing out factoids like Cliff Clavin and her omnipresent boots – as parts of who she is. “It’s that part of us that we’re told to lose when we become an adult,” Bullock notes. “That freedom of expression, freedom of joy and excitement and innocence. I had a lisp I had to get rid of with speech therapy, and then I just go ‘why? Why did I have to get rid of the lisp?’ What is normal and 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 and kind and happy. We want them jaded and cynical and streetwise. Why is that?”
“We think we have all these flaws,” she continues, bringing it back to Mary, whose life falls apart just enough that she views her blind date with Steve (Cooper) as her last chance to set everything right and be socially normalized. “She didn’t think she was flawed. Society made her feel flawed and made her question how she lived her life. They aren’t flaws. They’re unique traits that make special human beings. I didn’t want her to change at all. I wanted her to continue being who she was and be okay with it. ”
This is why Mary Horowitz is so near and dear to Bullock’s heart. “Why is it that young boys and men are unique and eccentric and mavericks when they’re different, but women are odd when we are eccentric or different?” she asks. “It’s what I wish someone would have said to me when I was 12 or 8 when had my speech impediment. What do I want to say to little girls that I know? I keep saying ‘don’t change, be who you are,’ but society is really strong in their opinions. I made peace with the fact that the things that I thought were weaknesses or flaws were just me. I like them. But it took me a while to figure it out.”
And about those eye-catching boots, that so many people in the film can’t help but comment upon. “It was written as a red boot, but there are so many different ways to go with a red boot, as we women know. But that was the right way to go, and it was $14.95 off of Shoe.com. Genius.”