LOS ANGELES—When Sandra Bullock read the script for The Blind Side, she liked almost everything about it. She just wasn’t sure she wanted to work too closely with the woman whose life is portrayed in the film. Leigh Anne Touhy, a wealthy Memphis white woman whose family adopted an impoverished African-American teenager and turned his life around, is a Republican and a devout Christian. Bullock, a Democrat, says she brought to the project a lifelong suspicion of people who boast about their devotion to the church.
Watch the trailer for The Blind Side.
“People use it [Christianity] as a banner, and then they don’t do the right thing,” she says in a Los Angeles hotel room. “They go, ”˜I am a good Christian and I go to church, and this is the way you should live your life.’ I said to Leigh Anne when I met her, ”˜One of my biggest concerns stepping into this is this whole banner thing.’ I told her it scared me because I have had a lot of experiences that haven’t been that great. But she was so honest and forthright. I feel I have finally met someone who practises but doesn’t preach. I now have faith in those who say they represent a faith, whereas before I would say, ”˜Do not give me a lecture, because I think I am a pretty good human being. I may not go to church all the time, but I try to do the right thing. You are going to church and sleeping with someone else’s wife, so how are you better than me?’ I finally met someone who walks the walk, and that made me happy.”
In the movie, Touhy and her husband, Sean, offer their couch to a homeless teen named Michael Oher (Quinton Aaron), who is attending their children’s private school. He is at the school because a coach thinks he can use his size to advantage in basketball. However, he is 17 and alone. He has never met his father and can’t find his drug-addicted mother. The Touhys eventually adopt him and turn him toward their own favourite sport, football. (The movie opens on November 20.)
Bullock says that the key to her decision to make the film was that the Touhys didn’t get involved in Oher’s life for any benefits that might come to them. She says she felt the film would promote a genuine selflessness. “They didn’t do it because someone was writing an article or a book or making a movie. They did it because their instinct was to give love and to reach out a hand. Everyone questioned their motives, of course, because we don’t trust anyone who does anything nice. That is the sad world we live in. But they kept going, so it makes you feel that you need to step up your game. I felt it was an inspirational story that says we are more capable than we think we are, even though we don’t really live in a world that supports the good that we can do.”