TODAY   |  March 08, 2010

The woman behind best actress Bullock

TODAY’s Meredith Vieira speaks with Leigh Anne Tuohy, the real-life woman who was the inspiration for Sandra Bullock’s character in “The Blind Side.”

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> check out who has joined us, lee anne tuohy, the woman sandra bullock portrayed in the oscar-winning role in "the blind side." lee anne , good morning to you. another bern that has not gone to bed.

>> no, has not.

>> congratulations, all the success for you and your family. a wonderful movie. your reaction, when you heard the oscar winner is sandra bullock ?

>> i sat there and all night long i've been getting ridiculed for not, my husband's hand went on my leg, i got the death grip. like, don't move. so then i thought, well maybe i shouldn't. for once, i didn't run my redneck little mouth . and i got it, all night long everybody was giving me a hard time . sandy said, i can't believe i was expecting you to get up and holler and whistle. and.

>> you were on your best behavior?

>> i was. because she was has worked really, really hard at this. not only portraying me, but in her other movies. i felt like it was her moment.

>> did she nail you?

>> i think she nailed me pretty well. it scares my husband and jesse and our kids that there's two of us running around.

>> let's go back to last night. what would you have said if you were up there with sandra. what would you have said to folks?

>> i think what i would have said was that -- that little statue was getting to go home with her and jesse. and what a lucky little statue he was. but there's a lot of kids in this country that aren't so lucky. and you know, we firmly believe in our family that the kid that knows the cure for cancer is walking around, inner city , memphis, inner city l.a. and given opportunity and love, you know, you can change someone's life. and so i really would have said that i challenge everybody, you know, the people that were sitting in that room have the resources and the potential to make a difference. if just a few people would step up, i really think that we could wipe out the foster care and adoption issues that we have in this country.

>> and yet, that wasn't something you were thinking about on that november day, when you saw this boy, michael, this big guy , walking in a pair of shorts in the rain.

>> no, not at all. you know, because i didn't, none of us, shawn or myself, we didn't know what his needs were. we just really at that moment, just you know, thought this young man needed a ride. and then it was pretty apparent once you spent just some time with him at all, that his needs were much greater than that.

>> what did you think. this is a movie that people didn't have a lot of expectations for. and yet, it became this juggernaut. it grew. why, both with critics and more importantly, the audiences. why do you think this film resonated so much with critics and audiences alike?

>> i think people set in the movie and watched it and said, that's me. or i can do that or i did that. and i think they felt a connection that they realized that they could do what we did. or maybe not do it so great. or something you know, i'm not saying that everyone needs to take in a 6'6", 350-pound young man. but there are a lot of things that people can do. and i think it really challenged people that they said that you know, i want to do that. and look, there's people doing great things every day. our names just happened to be the ones connected with this movie. but regardless, we're still, we're still so humbled by it and we truly hope that people will get out and make a difference. i mean you know, make a difference, do something, do anything. and just don't sit there and not do something.

>> how has this movie changed your lives?

>> well, can you imagine? look at me like -- what do you think?

>> what kind of a stupid question is that?

>> honestly, you said that and i said something to somebody last week. people do ask me, that stupid question. has it changed your life? well, duh.

>> i didn't ask you if it changed your life, i asked you how it changed your life.

>> don't get testy with the guest.

>> yes, it's changed our life. it's nothing we anticipated, expected, ever thought would happen, no the in a million years. i certainly three or four years ago, wasn't thinking, sandra bullock is going to play me in a movie and it's going to do $250 million and my husband would have said, what have you been drinking this morning. so you know, no. but we are thrilled by the response. and we're thrilled by the message that it's sending. and with all that, you know, we just hope that it just continues. we fully believe this is a god-driven. that he has had his hand on this message from the beginning. and we don't think it's over. we think there's a lot of good left to come from the story and this message.

>> well given everything she's said about you, there's no way you'll allow this to be over.

>> she almost didn't take the part, too. which was the most interesting. she turned it down and turned it down and then she met you.

>> she did, she had to have her arm twisted.

>> we were a persuasive little group, i can tell you.

>> lee anne tuohy, thanks so much for being here and best to your family, too.

>> thank you very much.

>> now a check of the