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June 4, 2023

Sandra Bullock During Bus Driver Test ‘Speed’ Promotion at Santa Monica Bus Lines in Santa Monica, California, 1994

That time Sandra Bullock took a bus driver’s test with Santa Monica Bus Lines as part of the promotional tour for Speed.

Speed is a 1994 American action thriller film directed by Jan de Bont in his feature film directorial debut. The film stars Keanu Reeves, Dennis Hopper, Sandra Bullock, Joe Morton, and Jeff Daniels. Its premise revolves around a bus that is rigged by a terrorist to explode if its speed falls below 50 miles per hour.

Jeff Speakman was originally attached to star in Speed when the project was under Paramount’s management, but was dropped from the project when it was sold to 20th Century Fox. Stephen Baldwin, the first choice for the role of Jack Traven, declined the offer because he felt the character (as written in the earlier version of the script) was too much like the John McClane character from Die Hard. According to screenwriter Graham Yost, they had also considered Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks, Wesley Snipes, and Woody Harrelson. Director Jan de Bont ultimately cast Keanu Reeves as Jack Traven after seeing him in Point Break. He felt that the actor was “vulnerable on the screen. He’s not threatening to men because he’s not that bulky, and he looks great to women.”

For the character of Annie, Yost said that they initially wrote the character as African American and as a paramedic as to justify how she would be able to handle driving a speeding bus through traffic. The role was offered to Halle Berry but she declined the part. Berry would later regret the decision. Later, the character had then been changed to a driver’s education teacher, and made the character more of a comic-relief sidekick to Jack, with Ellen DeGeneres in mind for the part. Instead, Annie became both Jack’s sidekick and later love interest, leading to the casting of Sandra Bullock. Bullock came to read for Speed with Reeves to make sure there was the right chemistry between the two actors. She recalled that they had to do “all these really physical scenes together, rolling around on the floor and stuff.” Meryl Streep and Kim Basinger were also offered the role of Annie but both declined. Anne Heche was offered the opportunity to consider the role.


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