After 12 years, the idea of a Speed reunion isn’t overt in the marketing materials for The Lake House, starring Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock. But when you see them together on the poster, let alone in the film, something subconscious clicks. “Oh yeah, that worked before.”
This time, romance takes a front seat as Reeves and Bullock play two homeowners in the same lake house separated by two years. Alex (Reeves) is there in 2004 and Kate (Bullock) is there today, and their letters travel the years instantly. Such a paradox often left Bullock perplexed.
“Not knowing what that was, and questioning, I go, ‘What would my mind do?’” Bullock said. “I would look for wires, I would assume there’s a remote control, all this kind of stuff. But then I had to step back and go, ‘Eliminate all the things, the tricks that I know of through experience. This isn’t me. This is a person who obviously was ready in their lifetime to be open to something like that.’ The logical doctor who bases everything she does on science is presented with this other worldly happening. Obviously she needed something like that in her life to wake her up and be a part of her life. That’s because we forget about the magic of things. Kids don’t care about how it happened. They get lost in it. And I think as adults, we sort of have become really jaded. It takes a lot to make us let go. That was a hard decision, but I got to the end, and it was just about letting go.”
A sort of expert in cinema sci-fi by now, Reeves is open to those possibilities too. “I think that is what we were hoping for,” he said. “All of these things, the letters, the mailbox, the house, the connections, the time that they were together, that they weren’t together, the dog, all of these things would kind of come to a place that when they do come together that she accepted, and that all those other questions don’t mean anything. To make sense of it isn’t the point. The sense of it is the most important thing is that they are together. And that sometimes, what we put in our way, the things that we think matter to us actually probably don’t all the time.”
Stuck in the past but knowing a bit of the future, Alex does manage to meet Kate at one point in her life. “I think it’s a little scary to get intimate,” said Bullock. “When you have an inanimate object like a bus and the action and energy outside of yourselves, you have part of your self, you can make that the bigger thing and you have moments where the inanimate object is the house. But when we had to be together, we had to be together in the most intimate of ways. I think I got to see his history and what he has experienced these past 10 years, and who he is as now as a man, just as good as when I first met him. It’s weird. You just have to do something intimate with about 60 people watching you, talking, whispering as they are moving things. And then the neighborhood is out, and people hanging outside their houses. But you just have to kind of zone out in a weird way and not think about it. ‘I’m not going to get uncomfortable. And what are they thinking? Am I doing something that looks odd? We are just going to do what feels right.’”
Maybe it wouldn’t have been so awkward if they had not spent more than a decade apart. But for Reeves, The Lake House was the perfect opportunity to reunite. “It just seemed to kind of come together, this film at this time,” he said. “What led up to it or how it happened, eventually we both liked the material, liked the idea of what this film was. It was an atypical dramatic romance. I was drawn to that. I liked the dialogue. It was very sweet. I liked these characters trying to figure out their own lives, kind of coming together in a way that I hadn’t really seen before.”
In most of the scene, Kate and Alex are corresponding to each other off screen. Director Alejandro Agresti actually makes it look like they are having a conversation by positioning them on opposite sides of a split screen. In actuality, he shot the two actors together.
“There’s an ease,” Bullock said. “I don’t want to say it’s a comfort, but it’s an ease for me to look at him directly in places when I’m not comfortable with myself, I can look him in the eye and feel that I have a place there. There’s other people, you can look in their eyes and not feel that you are supposed to be there. I think that was a nice luxury for me. I know what it’s like to remember him. We have a nice history. There’s a great level of comfort that I have.”
A practical woman in real life, Bullock put even the most fantastical movie concept in practical terms. “I think they chose to be together,” she said. “They chose to accept this situation, and allowed themselves to let go and be a part of it. And allowed themselves the joy of what can't be explained by society. I do believe in choice, the freedom of choice and carving out your own happiness. All I can work with is what I know. What’ the bigger picture? Whatever choices are being made through astrology, and destiny and faith, I have no control over. I have the control over saying yes or no to the experience. I hope there's something amazing and bigger. There's a lot of coincidences and things that have happened in my lifetime where I go, ‘Did you just see that? Did that just happen?’ I believe there are bigger things at work than just me which is odd for an actor I know. But I believe I know there's big things that are happening and you have to choose whether you are going to be open enough to see them.”
For Reeves, it’s a lot simpler. “It just felt right,” he said.
The Lake House opens Friday.