The Lake House requires more than just chemistry to make the romance work. The two love interests only meet once in the film, as the concept has them discover each other through a sort of time portal. Sandra Bullock lives in the waterfront property in the present, 2006. Keanu Reeves lives there in 2004, but the magic mailbox delivers their letters across the years.
Reeves and Bullock on Lake House Magic
Fortunately for the actors, contrivances of film sets allowed them to work together. “It was the story so, for me, it was part of that yearning to want to see the person, to see Kate,” Reeves said. “It’s in the script. It’s part of that yearning. Also, [director] Alejandro [Agresti] kind of set up situations where we were in the same room acting together but apart. It really kind of called upon being open and whatever connection you and I have to let that be.”
Shooting distant scenes on the same set helped Bullock too. “There’s an ease,” she 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 are 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. I know what it’s like to wonder. We have a nice history. There’s a great level of comfort that I have.”
Their first movie together, Speed, had physical acting challenges. Now the duo had to get emotional together. Bullock plays a harried ER doctor with an unfulfilling on-again/off-again boyfriend that leaves her longing for the man in the past.
“If something is written well, I think the inherent tone is right there for you,” Bullock said. “Like I can read something and go, ‘I can understand this. I can understand this level.’ And then I’ll argue with myself while I’m there or the director or Keanu. I think I naturally find it. I think every human being, every biological creature has a level of melancholy in life and in general. Levels are different. It was pretty much written to a certain degree and once we started working together and figuring out the environment and why would she allow herself to be drawn into something like this without giving the exposition of you’re a doctor. You’re logical. Why are you allowing this to happen when it makes no sense? It was fun to sort of figure out the levels and the balances. I could sort of push it a little and it was completely wrong and it felt like wrong. Then we would do it again and talk it out and you know pace and find another way to do it and then it would feel absolutely right. Sometimes it’s natural and other times you just have to fight to figure out. Well this was we spent a lot of time alone. But when you’re working with other people you’re level might not be right for yourself or the other person.”
Then Bullock apologized for getting so deep. “We’re dogs and ponies when it comes to these things. We’re entertainers and our job is to entertain and I love it, but the real people behind it are nine times out of 10 not the person that is doing the entertaining. The last thing people want to see if someone melancholy or down you know. You want everyone to be happy. We all have levels of it and you sort of exercise it in stories like this. It was beautifully written that way and it was easy to fall into.”