As Sandra Bullock mulls her next move — most likely starring opposite Tom Hanks in an adaptation of Jonathan Safran Foer’s novel Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close — EW takes a look inside her stunning comeback, examining how she consciously retooled her career, how she transcended the tabloid noise, and where she might go from here.
One thing’s for sure: Bullock has no shortage of options. At age 46, a decade and a half after she jumped on the bus in Speed, the actress is being courted for virtually every female starring role Hollywood has to offer, from a Disney family fable called The Odd Life of Timothy Green to Our Wild Life, a drama about an elephant orphanage. There’s also the action comedy EW reported about exclusively in June called Most Wanted, in which she’d star as a criminal suspect being escorted to the courthouse by a U.S. marshal (played by her Proposal costar Ryan Reynolds). “Every movie you hear about and every script I see, they say, ‘We’re going after Sandra Bullock for the woman,’ ” says Ben Affleck, who costarred with Bullock in 1999′s Forces of Nature. “She’s the golden girl,” says a top Hollywood agent. “Everyone is rooting for her. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Indeed, it’s been quite a year for the actress: The two biggest hits of her career. A Best Actress Oscar. A tabloid firestorm. A new baby. EW examines her rising status in Hollywood, and how, thanks to the intangible chemical reaction that creates stardom, she’s always had a knack for making audiences fall in love with her. “From the minute we saw her in Speed, she just had this quality that people want to be around,” says Bradley Cooper, who costarred with Bullock in last year’s All About Steve. “It’s like being around a source of light.”
For more on Sandra Bullock, pick up the new issue of Entertainment Weekly, on stands September 3rd.