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With The Lost City, Sandra Bullock is returning to the romantic comedy genre she’s ruled for three decades: just don’t limit the adventure film to simply boy meets girl.
“Rom-coms don’t get a great cinematographer, they don’t get a great budget; rom-coms don’t really get to be funny the way I like to be funny because you have strike that balance between being the love interest and then loving someone,” Bullock told The Hollywood Reporter of breaking out of the genre’s confines at the movie’s Los Angeles premiere on Monday. “We didn’t have to carry that, and it gives you a lot of freedom. The action-adventure part of it — I just loved that there were three different types of movies in this that needed to be together, otherwise, it wouldn’t work.”
In the Paramount flick, Bullock plays novelist Loretta Sage, who is captured by an eccentric billionaire (played by Daniel Radcliffe) during her book tour with Alan (Channing Tatum), the cover model for her latest novel, setting out to rescue her. Bullock is also a producer on the film, and said when it came to casting her love interest, she knew Tatum would be the right choice after having known each other for years.
“I knew that how I thought of him as a human being in real life and what I saw him as — which a lot of people don’t get to see him as — I was like, ‘I would love to see that play out with someone who is as tightly wound as the character I play,'” she said. “You need people like Chan opposite people like my character, and he’s just brilliant.”
As the two venture through the jungle, the film sees Bullock character’s plucking leeches off of Tatum’s back and bare butt in one scene, which she joked was a “very precise” process. “I had to pick them off of areas that needed precision,” she quipped. “You jerk something too hard and you know what happens, something comes off.”
The rest of the cast quickly turned to fans when discussing Bullock’s return to the rom-com world, including Radcliffe, who said that after reading the script, “I was like ,’I want to see them do this.’ I think that’s a generally good blanket rule, to make the films that you would want to see,” in his bad-guy role that he describes as “a fun villain.” Bowen Yang, who has a supporting role in the film, was also quick to give Bullock her accolades as rom-com queen.
“She’s able to give you such a range of things between physical comedy, broad comedy but also this grounded, protagonist relatability that you just root for her character no matter how cynical she seems in the beginning, no matter how over it she is or how jaded she is about things,” Yang said. “My favorite kind of movie is literally a rom-com with Sandra Bullock in it, but this has so many more elements to it.”
The movie also sees a small role by another iconic heartthrob, when Brad Pitt makes a brief appearance amid the rescue mission. It all came to be via hairdresser Janine Thompson, who counts both Bullock and Pitt as clients.
“She just brokered this deal, she just started whispering to both of them,” said co-director Adam Nee. “It was the craziest thing, and all of a sudden they were like, ‘Brad’s leaning in’ and we were like, ‘Did we even offer it to him?’ And then he just showed up and we put him in the outfit and blew cars up behind him.”
As the film is about to hit theaters, it features a different title than its original, first called The Lost City of D. Explained co-director Aaron Nee, “Sandy’s character Loretta has a book in the movie called The Lost City of D, and so initially we were working off of that title, but as funny as it is, we didn’t want the movie to be misconstrued as a parody,” in reference to 2016 adventure drama The Lost City of Z. “It’s a comedic adventure but not a parody.”
Inside the screening, held at Westwood’s Regency Village Theatre, Bullock thanked the directors for their leadership in filming amid the pandemic, and told the crowd she feels “so lucky that I got to do what I love to do, which is make people laugh in a way that I haven’t been given in a long time.”
The Lost City hits theaters on Friday.
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