Sandra Bullock

"I have no desire to maintain a lifestyle," declares Sandra Bullock. "I am horrible at being a celebrity. If I am out in public, I dress like a pig." While most people would debate that forceful description, the actress' lack of pretension has certainly contributed to her enormous popularity. And there's no question about the authenticity of her unaffected charm. Back in her high school days, the then-cheerleader was voted "Student Most Likely To Brighten Up Your Day" by her classmates. Sandra Annette Bullock was born on July 26, 1964, in a Virginia suburb of Washington DC. Her mother was an opera singer, her father a voice coach, and it wasn't long before the youngster established her own showbiz credential by singing in the children's choruses of her parents' productions.

She was also something of a tomboy, and was determined to beat the boys on her street at their own games. Indeed the hoydenish characters she has played in films like Miss Congeniality and Forces Of Nature contain more than a little of her real-life persona. "I was a tomboy by necessity," says the actress. "There were so many boys in our neighbourhood and I didn't want to be left out of the games, so I took up every sport I could. I was a deadly skateboarder!"

But there is also a more serious and creatively accomplished side to Sandra. Since breaking into the big time with the 1994 Keanu Reeves vehicle Speed, she has gone on to make her mark as a producer, with movies like Two Weeks Notice and Hope Floats.

In the former film, her on-screen chemistry with Hugh Grant sparked rumours of a real-life romance. Ever the professional, Sandra studiously avoided denying the tabloid reports, which generated more publicity for the project than any ad campaign could hope for. "Hugh is better at it than I am," she later admitted. "And I liked watching him do it."

Her career choices have followed a similarly considered strategy. The mantle of "America's Sweetheart", which followed her role in Speed, was simply a stepping stone to becoming a Hollywood power player. "Had I not made Speed 2, I wouldn't have had the clout to produce Two Weeks Notice," she reveals. "It's about having real control."

There's no doubt that Sandra has come a long way from her first efforts at drama, studying acting at East Carolina University. As an aspiring thespian she worked at an ice-cream parlour, before moving on to a series of minor roles in New York theatres.

Now commanding upwards of $15 million a movie, Sandra is ranked among Hollywood's most bankable actresses. And she's also one of its most talented – in 2010 she earned a Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild Award and her first Oscar for her role in The Blind Side.

But with such status come inevitable frustrations. In the past there has been relentless interest in her romantic life, with her name linked to those of several Hollywood hunks.

When she filmed Speed 2, it was co-star Jason Patric. Then came A Time To Kill and reports of a romance with Matthew McConaughey, followed by another with Hugh Grant.

However, it’s her relationship with biker Jesse James, who she met on his Monster Garage TV show in December 2003, that ended up grabbing the most column inches.

The pair married in July 2005 and lived together with Jesse's three children from previous relationships. However, in the wake of Sandra’s joy at scooping an Oscar in February 2010 came turmoil in her personal life. It emerged that Jesse had allegedly engaged in a string of extramarital affairs with heavily tattooed women, including stripper Michelle “Bombshell” McGee.

Handling the situation with dignity, Sandra disappeared from the public radar as further lurid headlines appeared in the weeks following the scandal.

But all was not as it first seemed. In fact, as covered in the pages of HELLO! magazine, the actress had been in hiding to prevent the unearthing of a secret – that she had adopted a baby boy, Louis, from New Orleans.

“I will be adopting as a single parent,” she told us. “Anything else will be taken day by day. I have a different relationship with Jesse now. A bittersweet one. One of new understanding. One of forgiveness. One of support for his recovery. One that changed my life. I don't really know how our paths will intersect in the future, but the father I have known Jesse to be with all the kids is one that I hope Louis can experience one day, no matter how Jesse and I go on with our lives.”

Soon afterwards the couple divorced and the actress began to combine working with looking after little Louis. Since the adoption the mother of one has worked on several films including; Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close alongside Tom Hanks, light hearted comedy The Heat and most recently in the sci-fi thriller Gravity opposite George Clooney.

Gravity was not only a box office hit, bringing in over $675million, but also earnt Sandra several awards and put her in the running for Best Actress at the 86th Anuual Academy Awards, for her role as Ryan Stone.

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