Sandra Bullock Plays an Ex-Con Who Served 20 Years for a 'Heinous Crime' in The Unforgivable

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The Unforgivable
The Unforgivable

KIMBERLEY FRENCH/NETFLIX Sandra Bullock in The Unforgivable

Sandra Bullock's next role is a "complex" drama-thriller that might just earn the actress her next Oscar nomination.

In a first look at The Unforgivable, Bullock plays Ruth Slater, a woman who has just gotten out of prison after serving a long prison sentence for a "heinous" crime.

"My character is someone who has been incarcerated for 20 years for a pretty heinous crime [and] gets out," Bullock told Entertainment Weekly of the film, which she also produced. "There are several people whose lives she affected by this crime she committed, and there's a lot of hatred and anger and bitterness and sorrow associated with her release. She wants to find this one person, the only family she had when she went in, and you keep asking yourself, 'Why can't you let it go? This family member was traumatized by your actions — let it go! Stop harming these people all over again.'"

"Finding out the background to the story of why she did what she did is sort of the whodunnit of this," Bullock said of the movie, which is based on a British miniseries. "It's a murder mystery within a very complex character drama."

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The film also stars Jon Bernthal, Vincent D'Onofrio, Viola Davis, Richard Thomas, Linda Emond, Aisling Franciosi, Rob Morgan, Emma Nelson, Will Pullen, and Thomas Guiry

Working with the all-star cast was "ridiculous and selfishly beneficial," Bullock told the outlet.

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"I don't care where you think you are on the level of talent on your acting scale, if you place yourself opposite those who are far better than you, they will only elevate you," said Bullock. "I was so scared. I was basically making a silent film for my character, and I was like, 'If I fail with my emotional inner life, we've lost the storytelling.' But I would get opposite these tremendous human beings and you just go 'thank you' to be opposite talent like that. Everybody dreams about it. And then here we had it."

Director Nora Fingscheidt said she hopes the movie will help build a greater sense of empathy for people who have criminal pasts among viewers.

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"I would love that they maybe reconsider their judgment of people who are outside the society, people who are massively disadvantaged because of their past," Fingscheidt said. "I think it's worth sometimes taking a second look. It's not so easy to reenter society. You might change in prison after 20 years quite a lot, but for the majority out there you're still a prisoner and you will live with that forever. It's really worth looking into details and giving people second chances. That is what I was thinking about a lot."

The Unforgivable is out in select theaters on Nov. 24 and available on Netflix on Dec. 10.

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