Leigh Anne Tuohy invited him into their home one rainy night and from that moment on, Michael, who'd never had a bed of his own or people to rely on, became a part of the Tuohy clan. With the family's help and support, Michael upped his grades and became a stand-out offensive lineman at Briarcrest Christian School. Oher was pursued by just about every major college, but signed with the Tuohys' alma mater: University of Mississippi. He currently plays for the Baltimore Ravens after being the 23rd pick in the first round of the 2009 NFL draft.
Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw - The Blind Side Press ConferenceYou’re playing people who are real but aren’t famous so the audience wouldn’t know them. When you go about that, what are you looking for? Do you try to imitate them or do you try to capture the spirit of that person?
Tim McGraw: "I think more of the spirit. I wasn’t really trying to imitate anybody. I wouldn’t want to imitate Sean for anything. I think that I can relate to him in a lot of ways. We both grew up in Louisiana. I was an athlete and he was an athlete, although I wasn’t quite the athlete that he was. And also, as a kid I remember - I’m going to give him a few years and say high school - but I remember watching him play for Ole Miss. As a kid growing up in northern Louisiana, we got to see a lot of Ole Miss games, and I have a wife that runs everything at home so I think I can relate to Sean in a lot of ways. The script was so well written that I just wanted to capture the essence of it and not really try to imitate anybody."
Sandra Bullock: "That’s a tough one because I do think that I tried to get as close – I mean, you don’t meet an energy like Leigh Anne’s ever. She might not be famous here but she’s known in other places, and I felt a great sense of fear in trying to tackle that person she is, but also a great sense of obligation to be true to this wonderful dynamic. John [Lee Hancock] could not explain Leigh Anne to save his life, and when I met Leigh Anne, I said, 'Now I know why you can’t, because she’s original.' But there’s such a dynamic that exists between those people and their children that you wanted to pay homage to them. I wanted to do it as closely as I could, so I did my best."
Sandra, what was it about the character of Leigh Anne on the page, as opposed to before you actually got to meet her and work with her, that appealed to you as an actress?
Sandra Bullock: "Initially, when I was approached with the film, it was a beautifully written story. You could see it play out. I didn’t know how to play Leigh Anne. I didn’t know how to approach it or what I could bring to it, so I just kept saying, 'No, this is not going to work for me.' Then John said at one of our meetings, 'Why don’t you just come meet Leigh Anne?' So I met Leigh Anne for the whole day and I left there completely exhausted because of the energy she has, but in love with this human being, and who she is at this time on the planet. But I still didn’t know how to play her, had no idea. I didn’t know how to bring that to life and be truthful and do a good job with it. I don’t know at what point I said yes. I don’t recall. I don’t think I ever said yes. Yeah, I like scary films. [Laughing] I don’t think I ever really agreed to do the film."
Sandra, what was it about this story that really resonated with you the most?
Sandra Bullock: "First of all, it was a beautifully executed book, especially for someone who’s been around football players her whole life and still knew nothing or cared anything about the game. By the end of the game, I was in such awe of what it takes to be an athlete and what the coaches contribute to these children’s lives, and how they support and push and inspire, and I had a real sense of jealousy that they got to experience that and I never did as an athlete or as someone who is able to be brought to that point. But even though I didn’t think I could make this movie, the inspiring part of this movie is, here’s this family that does this, didn’t do it because someone was writing an article or a book or making a movie, did it because that’s where the instincts said this is what we’re going to do, and we’re going to give love and reach out a hand. And everyone came and questioned them, of course. We don’t trust anyone who does anything nice. That’s just the sad world we live in. But they didn’t care and they kept going. It makes you feel like you need to step up your game. So whatever wonderful actress was going to play Leigh Anne Tuohy, it was going to be an inspirational story of a true life story that we’re capable of so much more than we think we are, because we don’t really live in a world that supports the good that we could do. They all want us to do something bad, so it sells some papers or some news report."
Sandra, can you talk about the local theater actors in Atlanta you worked with?
Sandra Bullock: "We just assume all the great actors are in New York first and then L.A. second, and it’s so not true. It’s a testament to John and his casting finding the best people for the role, and there’s such amazing talent everywhere. It’s exciting that now that there are these sort of new Hollywoods or new filmmaking communities that really benefit from these great faces and character actors and leading actors that just are fresh and exciting and bring an authenticity to the piece, and that’s smart casting too, and that’s John."