In addition to her acting career, Bullock is the founder of the production company Fortis Films. She has produced some of the films in which she starred, including Two Weeks Notice, Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous, and All About Steve. She was an executive producer of the ABC sitcom George Lopez, and made several appearances during its run.
Bullock was born in Arlington, Virginia. Her father, John W. Bullock (born 1925), was a United States Army employee and part-time voice coach; her mother, Helga Mathilde Meyer (1942–2000), was an opera singer and voice teacher. Helga was German, while John is from Birmingham, Alabama and has English, French, German, and Irish ancestry. Bullock's maternal grandfather was a German rocket scientist from Nuremberg. John, who was in charge of the U.S. Army's Military Postal Service in Europe, was stationed in Nuremberg when he met Helga. They married in Germany and moved to Arlington, where John worked with the Army Materiel Command before becoming a contractor for The Pentagon. Bullock has a younger sister, Gesine Bullock-Prado, who went on to serve as vice president of Bullock's production company Fortis Films. Until the age of 18, Bullock held American-German dual citizenship. She then held only American citizenship until 2009, when she reapplied for German citizenship.
Bullock was raised in Germany (Nuremberg) and Austria (Vienna and Salzburg) for 12 years, and grew up speaking German. She attended the humanistic Waldorf School in Nuremberg. As a child, while her mother went on European opera tours, Bullock usually stayed with her aunt Christl and cousin Susanne, the latter of whom would later marry German politician Peter Ramsauer. Bullock studied ballet and vocal arts as a child and frequently accompanied her mother, taking small parts in her opera productions. She sang in the opera's children's choir at the Staatstheater Nürnberg. Bullock has a scar above her left eye, caused by falling into a creek when she was a child. She attended Washington-Lee High School, where she was a cheerleader and performed in high school theater productions. After graduating in 1982, she attended East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina, where she received a BFA in Drama in 1987. While at ECU, she performed in multiple theater productions, including Peter Pan and Three Sisters. She then moved to Manhattan, New York, where she supported herself as a bartender, cocktail waitress, and coat checker while auditioning for roles.
While in New York, Bullock took acting classes with Sanford Meisner. She appeared in several student films, and later landed a role in an Off-Broadway play No Time Flat. Director Alan J. Levi was impressed by Bullock's performance and offered her a part in the TV movie Bionic Showdown: The Six Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman (1989). This led to her being cast in a series of small roles in several independent films as well as in the lead role of the short-lived NBC television version of the film Working Girl (1990). She went on to appear in several films, such as Love Potion No. 9 (1992), The Thing Called Love (1993) and Fire on the Amazon (1993).
Bullock had a prominent supporting role in the science-fiction/action film Demolition Man (1993), followed by a leading role in Speed the following year. Speed took in $350 million at the box office worldwide.
A string of successes during the mid-1990s included While You Were Sleeping (1995), for which she received her first Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy, The Net (1995) and A Time to Kill (1996). Bullock received $11 million for Speed 2: Cruise Control (1997), which she agreed to star in for financial backing for her own project, Hope Floats (1998). She has stated that she regrets making the sequel.
She was selected as one of People magazine's 50 Most Beautiful People in the World in 1996 and 1999, and was also ranked No. 58 in Empire magazine's Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time list.
In 2000, Bullock starred in Miss Congeniality, a financial success that took in $212 million at the box office worldwide, and received another Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy. She was presented with the 2002 Raúl Juliá Award for Excellence for her efforts, as the executive producer of the sitcom George Lopez, in helping expand career openings for Hispanic talent in the media and entertainment industry. She also made several appearances on the show as Accident Amy, an accident-prone employee at the factory Lopez's character manages. The same year, she starred opposite Hugh Grant in Two Weeks Notice (2002).
In 2004, Bullock had a supporting role in the film Crash, which won the Academy Award for Best Picture. She received positive reviews for her performance, with some critics suggesting that it was the best performance of her career. She later received a $17.5-million-salary for Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous (2005). The same year, she was a co-recipient of the Women in Film Crystal Award.
Although Bullock was reunited with her Speed co-star Keanu Reeves in the romantic drama The Lake House, their film characters are separated throughout the film, so Bullock and Reeves were only on set together for two weeks during filming. The same year, Bullock appeared in Infamous, playing author Harper Lee. Bullock also starred in Premonition with Julian McMahon, which was released in March 2007. In 2008, Bullock was announced as "the face" of the cosmetic brand Artistry.
The year 2009 proved to be especially good for Bullock, giving the actress two record highs in her career, as earlier in the year she released The Proposal, with co-star Ryan Reynolds, grossed $317 million at the box office worldwide, making it her fourth most successful picture to date. She received her third Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Actress role for Motion Picture Musical or Comedy.
In November 2009, Bullock starred in The Blind Side, which opened at No. 2 behind New Moon with $34.2 million, making it her second highest opening weekend ever. The Blind Side was unusual in that it had a 17.6% increase at the box office its second weekend, and it took the top spot of the box office in its third weekend. The film cost $29 million to make according to the Box Office Mojo. It grossed over $309 million, making it her domestic highest-grossing film, her fourth highest-grossing film worldwide, and the first one in history to pass the $200 million mark with only one top-billed female star.
Bullock had initially turned down the role of Leigh Anne Tuohy three times due to a discomfort with portraying a devout Christian. She was awarded the Academy Award for Best Actress, Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama, Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role and Critics' Choice Movie Award for Best Actress. The Blind Side also received an Academy Award for Best Picture nomination.
Winning the Oscar also gave Bullock another unique distinction—since she won two "Razzies" the day before, for her performance in All About Steve (2009), she is the only performer ever to have been named both "Best" and "Worst" for the same year.
In 2011, Bullock starred in the drama Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close alongside Tom Hanks, a film adaptation based on the novel of the same name. Despite mixed reviews, the film was nominated for numerous awards, including an Academy Award for Best Picture nomination. Bullock was nominated for Best Actress Drama by Teen Choice Awards.
In 2013, Bullock starred in the comedy film The Heat, alongside Melissa McCarthy. It received positive reviews from critics, and took in $230 million at the box office worldwide. Bullock also starred in the science fiction film Gravity, opposite George Clooney. The film premiered at the 70th Venice Film Festival, and was released on October 4, 2013 to coincide with the beginning of World Space Week. Gravity received universal acclaim among critics and a standing ovation in Venice. The film was called "the most realistic and beautifully choreographed film ever set in space". Bullock's performance was praised, with some critics calling Gravity the best work of her career. Variety wrote,
"Bullock inhabits the role with grave dignity and hints at Stone's past scars with sensitivity and tact, and she holds the screen effortlessly once Gravity becomes a veritable one-woman show... the actress remains fully present emotionally, projecting a very appealing combo of vulnerability, intelligence and determination that not only wins us over immediately, but sustains attention all the way through the cathartic closing reels."
Gravity took in $716 million at the box office worldwide, making it Bullock's second most successful picture. For her role as Dr. Ryan Stone, Bullock was nominated for the Academy Award, Golden Globe Award, BAFTA Award, Screen Actors Guild Award, and Critics' Choice Movie Award for Best Actress. By August 2014, Bullock was the highest earning actress in Hollywood. In 2015, she voiced the character of Scarlet Overkill in the animated film Minions, which became her highest-grossing film to date, with over $1.1 billion worldwide. That same year, Bullock also starred in and co-executive produced the comedy-drama film Our Brand Is Crisis.
As of May 2017, Bullock's films have grossed over $5.1 billion worldwide, which makes her the 29th most profitable movie star according to The Numbers; her total domestic gross stands at roughly $2.5 billion, placing her as the 21st top U.S. star at the box office.
Bullock is set to star in an all-female spin-off of the Ocean's Eleven franchise, titled Ocean's Eight, which will be directed by Gary Ross.
Since her acting debut, Bullock has been dubbed "America’s sweetheart" in the media due to her "friendly and direct and so unpretentious" nature.
On March 24, 2005, Bullock received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6801 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood.
While critics have praised her screen persona, some have been less receptive towards her films. At the 2009 release of The Proposal, Mark Kermode said Bullock had made only three good films: Speed, While You Were Sleeping, and Crash, and added that "she's funny, she's gorgeous, it's impossible not to love her, and yet she makes rotten film after rotten film".
Bullock was selected by People magazine as its 2010 Woman of the Year and ranked No. 12 on People's Most Beautiful 2011 list. In 2010, Time magazine included Bullock in its annual TIME 100 as one of the "Most Influential People in the World."
In 2013, The Hollywood Reporter named Bullock among the most powerful women in entertainment. In September 2013, Bullock joined other Hollywood legends at the TCL Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard by making imprints of her hand- and footprints in cement in the theater's forecourt.
In November 2013 it was announced that Bullock was named Entertainment Weekly's Entertainer of the Year due to her success with The Heat and Gravity, which Entertainment Weekly believed would earn her an Oscar nomination. Bullock shared the title with other distinguished people in the industry such as the creators of the television show Breaking Bad, Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Lawrence, "Grumpy Cat" and others.
In 2014, Bullock ranked No. 2 on Forbes' list of most powerful actresses and was honored with the Decade of Hotness Award by Spike Guys' Choice Awards. In 2015, she was named "The Most Beautiful Woman" by People.
Bullock runs her own production company, Fortis Films. She was an executive producer of the George Lopez sitcom (co-produced with Robert Borden), which garnered a syndication deal that banked her some $10 million. Bullock tried to produce a film based on F.X. Toole's short story Million-Dollar Baby, but could not interest the studios in a female boxing drama. The story was eventually adapted and directed by Clint Eastwood as the Oscar-winning film, Million Dollar Baby (2004). Fortis Films also produced All About Steve which was released in September 2009. Her father, John Bullock, is the company's CEO, and her sister, Gesine Bullock-Prado, is the former president.
In November 2006, Bullock founded an Austin, Texas restaurant, Bess Bistro, located on West 6th Street. She later opened another business, Walton's Fancy and Staple, across the street in a building she extensively renovated. Walton's is a bakery, upscale restaurant and floral shop that also offers services including event planning. After almost nine years in business, Bess Bistro closed on September 20, 2015.
Bullock has been a public supporter of the American Red Cross, having donated $1 million to the organization at least five times. Her first public donation of that amount was to the Red Cross's Liberty Disaster Relief Fund. Three years later, she sent money in response to the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunamis. In 2010, she donated $1 million to relief efforts in Haiti following the Haiti earthquake, and again donated the same amount following the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. In 2017, she donated $1 million to support Red Cross relief efforts for Hurricane Harvey in Texas.
Along with other stars, Bullock did a public service announcement urging people to sign a petition for clean-up efforts of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Bullock backs the Texas non-profit organization The Kindred Life Foundation, Inc., and in late 2008 joined other top celebrities in supporting the work of KLF's founder and CEO Amos Ramirez. At a fundraising gala for the organization, Bullock said, "Amos has led many efforts across our nation that have helped families that are in need. Our country needs more organizations that are committed to the service that Kindred Life is."
In 2012, Bullock was inducted into the Warren Easton Hall of Fame for her donations to charities, and in 2013 was honored with the Favorite Humanitarian Award at the 39th People's Choice Awards in 2013 for her contributions to New Orleans' Warren Easton High School, which was severely damaged by 2005's Hurricane Katrina.
Bullock was once engaged to actor Tate Donovan, whom she met while filming Love Potion No. 9. Their relationship lasted three years. She previously dated football player Troy Aikman, and actors Matthew McConaughey and Ryan Gosling.
Bullock married motorcycle builder and Monster Garage host Jesse James on July 16, 2005. They first met when Bullock arranged for her ten-year-old godson to meet James as a Christmas present. In November 2009, Bullock and James entered into a custody battle with James' second ex-wife, former adult film actress Janine Lindemulder, with whom James had a child. Bullock and James subsequently won full legal custody of James' five-year-old daughter.
In March 2010, a scandal arose when several women claimed to have had affairs with James during his marriage to Bullock. Bullock canceled European promotional appearances for The Blind Side citing "unforeseen personal reasons". On March 18, 2010, James responded to the rumors of infidelity by issuing a public apology to Bullock. He stated, "The vast majority of the allegations reported are untrue and unfounded ... beyond that, I will not dignify these private matters with any further public comment." James declared, "There is only one person to blame for this whole situation, and that is me." He asked that Bullock and their children one day "find it in their hearts to forgive me" for their "pain and embarrassment". James' publicist subsequently announced on March 30, 2010 that James had checked into a rehabilitation facility to "deal with personal issues" and save his marriage to Bullock. However, on April 28, 2010, it was reported that Bullock had filed for divorce on April 23 in Austin, Texas. Their divorce was finalized on June 28, 2010, with "conflict of personalities" cited as the reason.
Bullock announced on April 28, 2010 that she had proceeded with plans to adopt a son born in January 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Bullock and James had begun an initial adoption process four months earlier. Bullock's son began living with them in January 2010, but they chose to keep the news private until after the Oscars in March 2010. However, given the couple's separation and then divorce, Bullock continued the adoption of her son as a single parent.
In December 2015, Bullock announced that she had adopted a second child, and appeared on the cover of People magazine with her then 3 1⁄2-year-old new daughter.
On December 20, 2000, Bullock, who was the only passenger, and the two crew all escaped the crash of a chartered business jet uninjured. The pilots were unable to activate the runway lights during a night landing at Jackson Hole Airport due to not using up-to-date approach plates, but continued the landing anyway. The aircraft landed in the airport's graded safety area between the runway and parallel taxiway and hit a snowbank. The accident caused a separation of the nose cone and landing gear, partial separation of the right wing, and a bend in the left wing.
On April 18, 2008, while Bullock was in Massachusetts shooting the film The Proposal, she and her then-husband Jesse James were in an SUV that was hit head-on (driver's side offset) at moderate speed by a drunken driver. Vehicle damage was minor and there were no injuries.
In October 2004, Bullock won a multi-million-dollar judgment against Benny Daneshjou, the builder of her Lake Austin, Texas home; the jury ruled that the house was uninhabitable. It has since been torn down and rebuilt. Daneshjou and his insurer later settled with Bullock for roughly half the awarded verdict.
On April 22, 2007, a woman named Marcia Diana Valentine was found lying outside James' and Bullock's home in Orange County, California. When James confronted the woman, she ran to her car, got behind the wheel, and tried to run over him. She was said to be an obsessed fan of Bullock. Valentine was charged with one felony count each of aggravated assault and stalking. Bullock obtained a restraining order to bar Valentine from "contacting or coming near her home, family or work for three years". Valentine pleaded not guilty to charges of aggravated assault and stalking. She was subsequently convicted of stalking and sentenced to three years' probation.
Beginning in 2002, Bullock was also stalked across several states by a man named Thomas James Weldon. In 2003, Bullock obtained a restraining order against him, which was renewed in 2006. After the restraining order expired and Weldon was released from a mental institution, he again traveled across several states to find Bullock; she then obtained another restraining order.