Gravity, the latest film from directot Alfonso Cuarón, is only a few weeks away from release. Seven years in the making, Cuarón’s Gravity was simply waiting for film-making technology to catch up with his vision for the space thriller, so he could make Gravity look and feel as if he actually shot the movie in the vacuum of space. While Cuaró enlisted director James Cameron to help with the movie, actress Sandra Bullock did her own research, consulting a real NASA astronaut.
In an article on Collect Space, Bullock says she get tips on how to act in space from real-life astronaut Cady Coleman, who was actually on the International Space Station while giving advice to Bullock. The pair randomly met through their respective siblings who both work in the food prep industry. Bullock’s sister had a chance meeting with Coleman’s brother, both of whom recommended the pair meet to talk about Cuarón’s space epic.
Bullock and Coleman exchanged email addresses and began a correspondence. The only problem was that Bullock wanted to talk to Coleman on the phone instead of exchanging emails back and forth. Unfortunately, you can’t just pick up your phone and call the ISS. However, Coleman could call Bullock in Hollywood because the ISS has an Internet protocol phone.
Once they got into contact with each other — coincidentally after Coleman had just finished watching Bullock’s Academy Award-winning performance in The Blind Side — Coleman explained to the actor what it was like to live and work in outer space. Coleman says:
“She wanted to know about what it is like to physically live up there and physically move around. ‘What would you do with your hands? With your feet? What would be a natural position to work? How often do you see your crewmates? Where do you meet each other?’ It was those kinds of things,” Coleman recalled.
Bullock, who didn’t share much about the movie she was making (“I didn’t want to push her to share that,” Coleman said), expressed a general interest about life in space.
“We did not share any secrets, personal or professional. I don’t know if I have any,” Coleman remarked. “It was just a genuine exchange of information. She asked really good questions. I came out of it thinking ‘I am really glad that this woman is making a movie about what it is like to live in space.'”
Cady Coleman has yet to watch Gravity, but she did get a chance to see one of the trailers. While Coleman believes the film sensationalizes what astronauts do, she thinks the trailer captures some of her fears about working in space. She also commends Cuarón for making a movie like Gravity that highlights space exploration, especially for women. Coleman says:
“I think the work we do in space is so important and it just can’t be done in other places. And I think exploring space and going out further in the universe are things mankind will do no matter what, you just cannot stop it,” Coleman said. “Yet, it’s very imperative to have the support for that, to have us as a nation or as a world supporting this kind of exploration.”
“Yet the fact that it highlights the real people, including women — smart, strong women that go to space and live up there and work up there — the fact that it would bring attention to that, I think is a valuable thing.”
Gravity features Sandra Bullock as Dr. Ryan Stone, a medical engineer who is on her first space shuttle mission, and George Clooney as Matt Kowalsky, a veteran astronaut who is on his last. After a horrible accident that separates Dr. Stone and Kowalsky, Stone is left to drift through space with no hope for rescue and with very little oxygen left in her tanks.
Gravity will hit theaters everywhere on October 4, in 3D and IMAX.