Comic-Con: Sandra Bullock, Tom Cruise talk ‘Gravity,’ ‘Edge of Tomorrow’

July 20, 2013 | 6:13 p.m.

Zack Snyder’s announcement of a planned Superman and Batman film may have generated the most buzz out of Comic-Con’s Hall H on Saturday, but it was footage from Alfonso Cuaron’s space thriller “Gravity” that had the hall’s 6,500 attendees in silent, rapt attention.

“Gravity,” a suspense-filled story about two astronauts stranded in space, features only the faces of Sandra Bullock and George Clooney.

“If I was going to be stranded in space, I wouldn’t mind being stranded with them,” Cuaron quipped during the panel.

When Bullock walked onto the stage with producer David Heyman, she was greeted by loud cheers, and several people screamed, “I love you, Sandra!”

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She recalled the intense physical demands of the role, which required her to be in a 9-by-9-foot, LED-lit cube for the majority of filming, suspended from 12 wires, 10 feet above the ground, to simulate the weightlessness of outer space. A camera on a robot, dubbed “Iris,” filmed from all angles, sometimes moving 25 miles per hour before instantly stopping inches from Bullocks’ face.

A poster for "Gravity." (Warner Bros.)

A poster for “Gravity.” (Warner Bros.)

Bullock said she and Cuaron curated music for her to listen to while she was filming.

“You were able to create a soundtrack,” she said. “They were able to create that for you while you were doing a scene. So you could feel something outside of this extreme loneliness while you were in this cube.”

Despite the precise mathematical planning and innovative technology involved in creating a gravity-free environment, Cuaron said his directing focus was not on the technology but on Bullock’s performance and her character’s emotional journey.

Cuaron said “Gravity’s” cinematography would feature many of his trademark continuous shots, exemplified in his apocalyptic masterpiece “Children of Men.”

Cuaron debuted footage from the film. The continuous shot showed the catalyst for the astronauts’ isolation: satellite debris colliding with their space shuttle mid-mission. The scene, gorgeous and horrifying, elicited gasps from the audience.

Though Cuaron called “Gravity” a “nonstop ride,” he noted that the film’s trailer added some exaggerated elements not present in the film itself.

“They want to make it exciting, so they put, for instance, explosions,” he said. “As we know, there’s no sound in space. The film, we don’t do that.… It’s a very intense film. It’s a very immersive experience. You’re with the characters. We wanted people to feel like they’re floating in space.”

Cuaron and Bullock were followed onstage by Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt and the filmmakers behind “Edge of Tomorrow,” a science-fiction film based on the book “All You Need is Kill” by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, who was in attendance.

Cruise dialed up the charm throughout the panel, palling around with the moderator, Nerdist personality Chris Hardwick. Cruise noted that the pair had shared a role — the big-haired rock star Stacey Jaxx from “Rock of Ages” (Hardwick acted in an early Los Angeles production of the musical), and the two broke into song, crooning “I Wanna Know What Love Is.”

Cruise was joined on the panel by costar Blunt, director Doug Liman (“The Bourne Identity,” “Mr. and Mrs. Smith”) and screenwriter Chris McQuarrie. At one point, Cruise pointed to costar Bill Paxton, seated in the audience, and invited him to join them onstage.

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In “Edge of Tomorrow,” Cruise plays a soldier who discovers he has the power to keep repeating the same day — a day that happens to be crucial in the outcome of a war against alien invaders.

“The alien invasion film has now become a trope, and people understand the language of this kind of genre,” Cruise said. “And now we can really get into this kind of fun character journey.”

Tom Cruise and Bill Paxton discuss "Edge of Tomorrow" at Comic-Con. (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Tom Cruise and Bill Paxton discuss “Edge of Tomorrow” at Comic-Con. (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Blunt, who plays a tough-as-nails soldier dubbed Valkyrie One, said the part was the most physically demanding role she has undertaken. She trained in martial arts, gymnastic and weights, and warmed up with Cruise every day to prepare to wear enormous exoskeleton suits, which weighed 85 to 125 pounds, while filming.

“The suits were really really heavy to wear, so if you didn’t stay fit, you’d throw your back out,” Blunt said. “Our personalities did a 180 as soon as we had the suits on. We were much nicer out of the suit.”

Although the preview footage focused on action, Paxton emphasized that the film also contains humor.

Cruise “getting into the suit is like something out of a Woody Allen movie,” Paxton said.

“Edge of Tomorrow” is slated for release June 6, 2014.

The panel also featured a preview of the upcoming animated feature “The Lego Movie,” as well as a brief preview of “Warcraft,” a feature film based on the popular MMORPG.

A scene from "The Lego Movie." (Warner Bros.)

A scene from “The Lego Movie.” (Warner Bros.)

“The opportunity to do something like ‘Warcraft’ is a once-in-a-lifetime thing,” said the film’s director, Duncan Jones (“Source Code”). “You hope that when you get the chance to make films, you really get the chance to create fantasy, and in ‘Warcraft,’ I actually get to create a world.”

Comic-Con International continues through tomorrow, as more than 130,000 entertainment professionals and enthusiasts gather at the San Diego Convention Center for the annual pop culture expo.

– Noelene Clark | @NoeleneClark | Google+

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