Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds Discuss 'The Proposal'

Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds in The Proposal
Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock in 'The Proposal.'. © Touchstone Pictures

Ryan Reynolds says working with Sandra Bullock is something he'd been wanting to do for quite a while, and it was all just a matter of waiting for the perfect opportunity to team up in a comedy. That opportunity presented itself with The Proposal, a romantic comedy that finds Bullock playing Reynolds' boss who's on the verge of deportation. In order to stay in the United States, she fakes a relationship with her underling.

Although Bullock had pretty much sworn off films of the romantic comedy ilk, both she and Reynolds believed with The Proposal they'd at last found the right project to do together. And at a press conference in LA in support of the Touchstone Pictures release, Bullock and Reynolds - both married - demonstrated they have good chemistry both on and off the screen.

Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds Press Conference

That nude scene was very bold and you looked fantastic.

Sandra Bullock: "Thank you for that."

Can you talk about...

Sandra Bullock: "Ryan's penis? I can. At length."

Ryan Reynolds: "In great detail."

Sandra Bullock: "Sadly, my first and last nude scene got laughs. I had to be very secure with that. It was all about choreography. I mean, literally when you read it on the page you saw it and then you realized, 'Okay, there's no way to shoot this unless you're buck naked.' Then I went, 'Go to the gym.

Cut out the carbs.' When it's funny though, if it turned out funny it was worth it. But while we were shooting it, it was supposed to be Betty [White] and I naked. She has in her contract that she only does nude scenes with like Ryan. I'm glad that it made people laugh, but shooting it was odd. There are things stuck to it and generally you don't have things stuck to it.

I mean, there are things covered, but not stuck to it. Then you got unstuck and oddly we didn't care because we were so tired. Anne [Fletcher] was like, 'Your vagina is hanging out. Cover it up.' I go, 'Sorry, sorry.' I said the word."

Ryan Reynolds: "I will not say vagina, no matter what. The weird part is calling your mom nude, like, 'Hey, just checking in.'"

Sandra Bullock: "Oscar [Nunez] had to show his man vagina in a little banana hammock."

You've done a few of these romantic comedies before. What was it about this one, Sandra, that you wanted to say yes to?

Sandra Bullock: "Well, I had stopped doing them however many years ago, six or seven years ago. I just stopped. They're terrible. They're bad. They're not funny and so they shouldn't be a romantic comedy because most of the time they're not romantic. They shouldn't be called 'romantic comedy.' They should be called that other kind of film. I don't call this a romantic comedy. It reminds me of the films from the '30s and '40s where there was a landscape and a story and drama was allowed to be in there. You can't have good comedy without drama in it, and they don't generally write well for women in romantic comedies. I love my comedy too much to bastardize it with bad romantic comedy.

So I was like, 'Okay. That's done.' I'm going to find another way to work and do it in a way that I love. So I'm not calling this a romantic comedy. That's how I got by it."

What are you calling it?

Sandra Bullock: "A motion picture."

Ryan Reynolds: "Let's just call it a talkie."

What was the most challenging: the nude scene, being felt up by Betty White, or watching Oscar Nunez shaking his goodies?

Sandra Bullock: "Let me just say...you put it that way and I think, 'God, we shot a soft porn.' Let me just say that Betty White feeling me up was the best second base I've ever had. She was tender, but firm. She found them instantly, which is not easy. She was cupping, gentle and loving. I felt satisfied afterwards. The hardest part really was watching this amazing comedian, this actor. I would stop him in the middle of the scenes and go, 'How did you make that character do that?' When he would do his scenes I just had to sit there and take it.

However close he wanted to give it I took it."

Oscar Nunez said that was the first day you met.

Sandra Bullock: "It was. But to his credit, when he was on the floor and had to do that part, I was looking in his eyes on the chair and I had to sit there. I saw his eyes go from, 'Oh, my God, I'm so exposed -' to 'I'm going to give you my gift. I'm going to give you my gift.' It was hard for me not to laugh and to not feel pain because I couldn't contribute in any way shape or form. I couldn't help him. It was all him."

Ryan Reynolds: "Oscar has this great ability to express unbelievable amounts of vulnerability in a single look that's hysterical."

Sandra Bullock: "Or a single gyration. It was so hard. Then of course doing it with Ryan, it could've been really weird. Had we dated in the past I'd have been like, 'I've been there. Done that.' But we didn't and it was like he comes in and you go, 'Now I'm going to see you.' I just didn't want him to laugh when he saw me like that."

Ryan Reynolds: "You know you've made a bad move, because you don't normally combine nudity with stunts. This isn't like Cirque de Soliel porn. It's a movie. You have these scenes where you slam into each other. You fall onto the ground and I would always know that something popped out wrong because the cameraman would go, 'Oh!' By hour four I had abandoned the fig leaf or whatever the hell they gave me and I was just throwing caution - and other things - into the wind."

Sandra Bullock: [Laughing] "Okay. God. That sounds so crazy."

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Sandra, the boat scene, did you learn to drive the boat or take lessons? Was that really you in the water?

Sandra Bullock: "The stunt guy goes, 'Okay, today, this is what you're going to do. You're going to go down the ladder. You're going to jump on the boat. Ryan is going to be tying it up. I want you to do it and then I want you to do a burn out around to the corner and then I want you to go.' I went, 'Okay...' First of all, I love the fact that he assumed that I knew how to drive a boat.

Second of all, we went out one day in choppy waters just to get the feel of the boat. I have a boat, but I've never done a stunt on a boat, but that was all me. I was literally burning out, but I had to make sure that he didn't go flying off the side of the boat. But I loved it. I gunned it and I was like, 'Ooh, maybe next time I get some more spin.' Poor Ryan."

Ryan Reynolds: "Yeah. It was terrific for me. Amelia Earhart over here in the boat all day."

Sandra Bullock: "Ryan can do anything, though. I knew he'd be fine if he was hanging off. He was in Wolverine. And yes, I was in the water."

Ryan Reynolds: "Freezing water, too."

You known each other for a while. What did you learn from each other in working together? And can you talk about Betty White? I can't imagine the movie without her.

Ryan Reynolds: "Mostly birthmarks is what I learned about Sandra that I wasn't aware of. That little Italy one.

No. Look, I always say that chemistry is something impossible to manufacture. It's either there or it isn't. The fact that you're friends doesn't necessarily equate to great chemistry. So we learned early on that we had it and I was so grateful for that. It's like one of the few magical things about film that still exists.

There's no way to manipulate that. It's either there magically or it's not. We had it and it was amazing. To answer your question about Betty, I could see the movie without her."

Sandra Bullock: "I tried to cut her out."

Ryan Reynolds: "Yeah. I like attention and then suddenly Betty comes on set. Betty has the best exit line I've ever heard for a movie. I hope she doesn't mind me sharing this. On her last day, I've never seen a crew give such an enormous standing ovation to somebody. Grown grips with ZZ Top beards crying because Betty is leaving. Betty turns around and says, 'I want everyone to know that this is the most fun I've ever had on a film set.'"

Sandra Bullock: "And everyone is crying."

Ryan Reynolds: "I was crying. And as she walked out the door, she turned back and said, 'Standing up.'"

Sandra Bullock: "I agree with Ryan. There have been people who have worked together in films who despised each other and had enormous chemistry. I think the one thing, I got away from comedy because it wasn't being done in the way that I loved and the way that I could do it. It made me sad because I felt like it wasn't appreciated and no one was writing it so, 'I'll abandon it. I'll never be able to do it.' It came back and not only did it come back to me, it came back with a man who wrote a role that Carol Burnett would've gotten.

Anyone else back in the day would've gotten it. They don't do this anymore. Then you read the other roles and you read who was cast and you went, 'Oh, my God, the things that I'm going to learn. I get to have that moment of timing in comedy and making it convincing and working hard and making people laugh and telling a great story.' Then they said that Ryan was going to do it and I said, 'That's the only person that I could do this with. That's why I want to step back into it.'"

"I was a little worried that the familiarity would be a little weird, but I think for me everything is musical in my life. For me, timing is a rhythm. Ryan and I can be doing a scene facing the camera and somehow our back and forth and our rhythm, we know when to stop and when to volley, when to make the sound. It's like music.

With Betty, her line about the Easter eggs, it's so innocent. That's to Anne's credit. I mean, yeah, she was a choreographer, but she was born to be a director. You need to have the ability to figure out people's rhythms. It all starts from the script. Those words and attitudes. I was so thankful that I got to go back and I felt bad that I had abandoned something that I guess I was naturally given and lucky to have an loved all of my life, but didn't love it anymore because I didn't get to do it the right way. I really am thankful that I got to do it the right way with people who taught me how to do it better. Do you know what I mean? I had to raise the bar and I was so thankful."

Ryan Reynolds: "I just want to add, and I'm not one to mythologize other actors too much, but obviously Sandy is a gorgeous woman..."

Sandra Bullock: "Thank you, Ryan."

Ryan Reynolds: "No. But I think the reason that people fall in love with her is that she doesn't seem to know it in the same way. I think that's the thing. She doesn't seem to know it in a way that other gorgeous people maybe would. I think that's what makes her so accessible. I think that people see that and that she has an ability to laugh at herself and you just don't find that too often."

Sandra Bullock: "I'm not sleeping with you. It's not going to happen."

Sandra, we know you as a likable character.

Sandra Bullock: "I'm a good actress. That's why you know me as likable."

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How did you put that likable energy into this bitchy character?

Sandra Bullock: "Because I am a bitch. I am a horrible, evil bitch but I'm a good actress and I can act like a really sweet person. Everyone has it in them. Ask Betty. It's such a joy to be able to play someone who is angry. It's a joy and a relief. Having to be nice all the time is exhausting and boring, but to play someone who just has that under layer of unhappiness, you know that it comes from someplace.

There's a crack in the veneer. I said for three months that I could be a bitch and people were like, 'Why are you being that way?' I said, 'It's my character. I'm in character. I don't have to apologize for being this way .' I take it home with me. I'm a bitch because I'm working as a bitch."

Ryan Reynolds: "It feels like resting."

Sandra Bullock: "It was pure heaven. I love it. We all have it in us. It's who I am. No. People who do comedy really are the nastiest people on the planet. Animal lover Betty White."

Who did you look to when you were performing this character? Was it any of the older comedies of the '30s and '40s as you mentioned earlier?

Sandra Bullock: "I didn't watch any films. This film had it all in the script. Once all the pieces, once I met Anne and I knew what she wanted and that we wanted the same things, and once they said Ryan was onboard and once the casting came together, you saw what it wanted to be.

We didn't relate it to anything else."

You didn't want to emulate anything else?

Sandra Bullock: "Nothing, nothing at all. The beauty of it was that everything was a character. The setting of Alaska, which we've lost in filmmaking, especially in comedies - we don't remember the setting. I love people in elements that they're not used to.

Typical fish out of water. But take this gorgeous setting of Alaska where we shot and like Rockport, Massachusetts. I didn't know places like this existed. The costume designer designing clothes that helped the comedy, that sold the character. Each and every detail was so perfectly thought of, what wouldn't be here? That's a lost art. People order clothes out of a catalogue, put it on an actor and everything is generic. This was building something from the ground up. I give it to Pete [Chiarelli]. I just bow at his feet for writing this. Every single character, every single person in this film you could watch for two hours and make a whole other film on and that's great writing, except for me. You get that and you just want more of that."

Ryan Reynolds: "Pete and I actually worked together five years ago on The Amityville Horror. I think that's when he began writing this script."

Sandra Bullock: "I can't see him as a studio executive."

Ryan Reynolds: "Believe me, I have. That's the reason he isn't anymore."

Did this movie change the way you treat your assistants?

Sandra Bullock: "Katie! [Her assistant in the room]. Does that answer your question?"

Ryan Reynolds: "'Katie, give me a kidney now!'"

Sandra Bullock: "I hate the word assistant. No one works for me. I work with everyone because I couldn't do anything without the people that I work with. But there are so many people in our industry that we know well that you're like, 'That did not come out of your mouth.'"

Ryan Reynolds: "We've all had that moment where the agent thought he hit hold. You hear it's like Hamburger Hill in the background."

If there's another romantic comedy out there you liked, would you do it?

Sandra Bullock: "I haven't the slightest idea. I'm like the queen of planning and scheduling and I'm trying very hard to stop it. I just want to finish what I'm doing and go home. I want to have a weekend. I want to have breakfast, a stack of pancakes. I don't want to not enjoy where I am at this very moment. So, every time I plan something the exact opposite happens.

I hope that I'm always satisfied and content like I am right at this very moment. But I have no idea."

Ryan Reynolds: "You do it so well though. Every time I hangout with you I think I want to be you. I want to be married to Jesse James."

Betty White talked about meeting Jesse and all of his tattoos. She said that if you can't sleep at night, you roll over and read him.

Sandra Bullock: "Every time he came around it was like a flirt fest."

Ryan Reynolds: "Are you talking about me?"

Sandra Bullock: "No. There's a little something going on with her and Jesse. There was a little eyeing and touching."

Is it unnerving having him be on a TV show where they're trying to kill him every week?

Sandra Bullock: "No one is trying to kill him. It's him against himself. It's him creating and pushing the envelope. [Laughing] Yeah, it is very hard."

Any word on a Deadpool movie?

Ryan Reynolds: "Yeah, it's in the works. That's about all I can really say. It's something that they're actually hashing out."

Sandra Bullock: "It's very top secret though."

Ryan Reynolds: "It seems to be."

Do you have any creative input?

Ryan Reynolds: "Yeah. I'm meeting with them all the time. We're in constant contact and it's just a matter of breaking the spine of the story and figuring out who it is and who's the villain. Look, I'm into any role in which I get to kick Captain America in the nuts."