Image Credit: Jerry Watson/Retna Ltd.First, Sandra Bullock revived the female-centric romantic comedy last summer with the blockbuster performance of The Proposal. Then The Blind Side became the first female-lead movie to cross the $200 million mark. And then she won the darn Oscar out from under Meryl Streep for her performance in the latter. We all rejoiced that a good, hard-working woman was finally getting her due. That she was doing this all at 45 while wearing a gorgeous sparkly Oscar gown, while constantly thanking her husband/Prince Charming in words we all scribbled down to later use when in a pinch writing our own love notes and wedding vows, only solidified what we already suspected. Sandra Bullock was living a modern-day fairy tale, the life to which almost every woman over 30 currently aspires. We all want to look stunning at 45 while bringing home at least half of the bacon, accepting accolades for it, and being supported by our equal (and bad-boy sexy) partner.
That’s what makes the reports today that Bullock may be splitting with her husband of five years, TV star Jesse James, particularly hard to take — even to someone who usually shrugs off celebrity gossip as, well, none of her business. Tabloid reports have insinuated that he may have had an affair, which makes it even tougher to take, simply because no one should have to go through such an ordeal so publicly. (As the rumors swirled, Bullock cancelled her appearance at the London premiere of The Blind Side; James, meanwhile, has issued a cryptic apology blaming himself for “poor judgment.”) But the worst part of all of this — for us, the people who, it should be noted, have no actual stake in this — is that it blows the storyline we had worked out for her. Like Kate Winslet (who earlier this week announced her split from her director husband of seven years, Sam Mendes) and Susan Sarandon (who in December acknowledged her break-up from 23-year partner Tim Robbins), Bullock engenders great affection in fans, particularly in smart women who identify with them, even look at them as role models of sorts. To find out that life can suck for them is the opposite of the joy we get from finding out they tie their shoes and pump their own gas in that stars-they’re-just-like-us way. We want to aspire to their successes, believe in lives better than our own.
And when it came to Bullock, in particular, we wanted her to have a happy ending — a revived career, an Oscar, and a great man — all at once, to prove to us it was possible for someone, if not for us. We wanted this moment to be the end of a Sandra Bullock comedy. Instead, we’re getting a movie we’re not sure we wanted to watch. Unfortunately, we’ll probably watch anyway.