The Lake House is their first movie together since 1994’s Speed — but it might not be the Keanu Reeves/Sandra Bullock reunion fans have been waiting for, exactly: The premise of the romance/sci-fi hybrid — he lives two years in the past, and she can only correspond with him through love letters — meant the actors barely worked together while filming. We caught up with Reeves and Bullock at the movie’s L.A. premiere to talk about their unusual new love story.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: It must have been challenging making a romance in which the characters have trouble simply meeting. How did you make that work?
KEANU REEVES I knew going in that I didn’t get to spend too much time on screen with Sandra, because the script has all the separation built in. Us trying to get together and figure out how to bridge that time gap is what moves the story forward. If we have done our jobs, then the chemistry will be there in the letters and the audience will be rooting for them to figure it out and somehow meet. The size of the impact when they do meet is built on their correspondence and chemistry when they aren’t together. It is about a very intense longing and love. This isn’t an all-happy story… I see the whole story as a metaphor for surrender. Hopefully, the audience can stop asking the rational questions and won’t get hung up on the time issues. I just want them to get lost in the story the way I did when I was reading it.
SANDRA BULLOCK I was bummed at first thinking we weren’t going to be filming that much together. But to do the scenes where our letters are talking, we got together and just sat in a sound studio and talked to each other. We connected through those words. Hopefully the audience does, too.
So when you did get the chance to work together, what was that like?
REEVES I can’t explain in words why Sandra and I have chemistry on screen or why we work well together. We just do, and I’m glad because I like her tremendously as a person. I always enjoy watching her work. She is funny as all heck, smart as whip…. It was great to have some life under our belts since the last time we worked together.
BULLOCK We kept in touch over the years — I actually wrote him letters to see how he was doing. Every time I heard he had an accident I’d call to make sure he was okay. We have some mutual friends and we had a few dinner dates, but it was still unfamiliar enough where it made filming an intimate, risky film like this still scary and exhilarating. You worry that (a) you won’t pull it off; (b) you will pull it off but not in a way no one has ever seen before; and (c) you won’t live up to the expectations that people have when they hear you are getting back together again. I didn’t really think that there would be so much talk about us working together again, but I guess people are interested to see what happens because of our past in Speed. I am glad I didn’t hear that talk while we were filming. I didn’t even think about it until I started seeing stuff on TV or on the Web or until we did the junket and you people kept asking about it. But I am glad to work with him again. I don’t know what it is, but I love being around Keanu. I really do. He is such a good person.
What’s your definition of a good love story?
REEVES A good love story is a story of passion. It starts with that first look — I believe in love at first sight. You want that connection, and then you want some problems. You want them to have to fight to be together, maybe even have an epic battle, like they have to figure out how to break the boundaries of time. And then there’s a good kiss. I think this film qualifies.
BULLOCK I have no idea, really. I am glad I have no idea. I thought I had an idea a few years ago, but I was very wrong.
You’ve been doing this red-carpet thing for years… Do you have a premiere-day routine down pat?
REEVES You mean like a boxer? Yes, I train. I stretch. I eat a big bowl of pasta… No, I don’t, actually. I still get nervous coming to them. I had a few friends over today and asked them what I should wear and tried to relax. We listened to some music. Actually, I thought a lot about today. I was feeling really grateful. I haven’t had a film out for a while and I am really proud of it.
BULLOCK [Referring to Jesse James, whom she married in 2005] You have no idea how great it is to be able to come to these things with a husband. It makes you realize the unimportance of some things and the importance of others, and therefore I can enjoy this more because I get to go home with that.
Tell us about the house you shot the movie in. It looks amazing.
BULLOCK It becomes a character and it is a metaphor for a lot of the concepts the film touches on. It was a gorgeous house, all glass — but there were no toilets! There was running water in the sinks, but no toilets. If you took the camera and panned around the house you would have seen a whole bunch of Porta-Pottis. Which I was glad were there, but they aren’t too pretty to look at. But this is the movies. It’s about beauty, not function.
Finally, about the poster: Did you two battle over who got to be in color and who was in black and white?
BULLOCK I actually wanted to be in black and white, but apparently Keanu looks better in black and white than I do. Plus, he’s the one in the past, I suppose, so it works thematically… but I think the real reason is how sexy he looks in black and white. But he looks sexy no matter what you do. You could coat him in paint and put feathers on his head and he’d still look good.
He might like that.
BULLOCK He is kinda wacky like that.