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Sandra Bullock no longer playing it safe

‘Miss Congeniality’ star passing up romantic comedies for edgier roles
/ Source: Reuters

Sandra Bullock isn’t looking for a sure thing.

The 40-year-old actress, best known for her roles in big-budget movies like action thriller “Speed” and the romantic comedies “Two Weeks Notice” and “While You Were Sleeping,” has set her sights on riskier projects that could challenge her image as a box office darling.

“I don’t do anything anymore that feels safe,” Bullock said in an interview. “If it doesn’t scare the crap out of you, then you’re not doing the right thing.”

After vowing not to make another romantic comedy — the genre that catapulted her into superstardom in the mid-1990s — Bullock took a two-year break from acting and channeled her efforts into producing projects like TV’s “George Lopez” show.

Now she is back, starring as the lovable undercover FBI agent Gracie Hart in “Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous,” which opens Thursday and is a sequel to the 2000 hit comedy “Miss Congeniality.” She also produced both movies.

Despite making a follow-up to the audience-pleasing “Miss Congeniality,” Bullock insists she is no longer chasing big box office smashes. Several of her upcoming roles, in fact, are in dramas that she said couldn’t be more different from the big-budget comedic work she is known for.

“Now I’m sort of looking at things overall and going ‘What’s the great story in here?’ rather than it just being about my lines and my part,” she said. “It’s not going to help you having a great role if the rest of the support of the film isn’t around it.

Later this year, Bullock will play “To Kill a Mockingbird” author Harper Lee in “Every Word is True,” a film based on writer Truman Capote’s research for his breakthrough non-fiction novel “In Cold Blood” about the murder of a family in Kansas in 1959.

“It’s hard and completely different,” Bullock said of the role. A photo of the sexy and svelte actress sporting an uncharacteristically frumpy costume for the film even made headlines earlier this month. Lee, a childhood friend of Capote, helped him research “In Cold Blood.”

‘A more European feel’
This spring, Bullock will also begin filming a romance with her “Speed” co-star Keanu Reeves called “Il Mare” that she said has “a more European feel to it.” The film is a remake of a Korean film and will be directed by Argentine filmmaker Alejandro Agresti.

“It’s unusual,” Bullock said of the film. “A lot of factors have to fall in place for it to work, and that’s what’s exciting about it.”

Also in the works for Bullock as both an actress and a producer is a film based on the life of “Peyton Place” author Grace Metalious.

But reprising her well-loved role in “Miss Congeniality 2” also carries risks, according to Bullock, because so few comedies feature women in starring roles without a romantic male lead.

“Name a comedy that’s not a romantic comedy that a woman has been in in the past 10 or 15 years. It’s hard. It’s really really hard,” she said, adding that she thinks comedies are generally more challenging to pull off than other genres.

“The hardest thing is the comedy,” she said. “If it doesn’t work, it’s painfully obvious.”

Bullock is fortunate, she said, to be in a position after more than a decade of success to be able to pick and choose both her acting and producing projects without having to worry about making money.

“I’m not in a panic to make money,” Bullock said. “I love that I get to produce and do things that don’t earn you a dime but in the end you finish it and you go ‘God, this is exciting.”’