The cast of Bird Box had to play characters who don’t see, but they’re not blind. In the world of Bird Box, there is an epidemic of something in the sky that makes anyone who sees it commit suicide. The survivors quickly learn to cover the windows and make any urgent trips outside blindfolded.
Sandra Bullock and Trevante Rhodes play two of the survivors. They studied with blind coaches to create a post-apocalypse where using your eyes could kill you.
“Sandy met with someone very, very early on,” Rhodes said. “We were coached on the proper means in which to maneuver blind. For me, honestly, it was kind of liberating in a sense in that it was just something I hadn’t done before. I haven’t done much but it was an opportunity to step into a space that was completely new to me and it was fun. It was liberating.”
While the characters in A Quiet Place had to learn to function silently, the stars of Bird Box had to learn to get around blind, which of course real people do every day.
“We had an extraordinary coach who’s not sighted,” Bullock said.
“He walked into my house and said, ‘Your wall is three feet. This ceiling’s about nine feet.’ Took him outside, he goes, ‘There’s a fence. There’s some kids toys right here.’ I was like how, how, how? What he gave us was the tools and the tricks that they use, the cane, the clicking. Make a sound, you can hear the sound bouncing off. Shuffle your feet, you hear what’s close. You hear an open field, you can hear that, feel it. So by the time we got on set, you navigate the scene.”
The cameramen were looking through the lens, but they also had to adjust to filming “blind” actors.
“We had an amazing steadicam operator, Roberto [De Angelis] and his job was just to get out of our way should we switch directions which happened a lot. [Director] Susanne [Bier] just let it go. I said, ‘If I fall, let it happen. If I hit something, let it happen unless I stop it.’ I only stopped it once when I drew blood.
Bier attested to Bullock’s gung-ho attitude. At one point she has to paddle two children in a canoe down a river blindfolded.
“We had a few stuntmen who were seriously terrified because Sandra was kind of unstoppable,” Bier said.
“I think they made sure it was never dangerous, but it was really daunting having Trev, having Sandra, at times having the kids. The kids had sort of semi-transparent blindfolds but Sandra did not have any transparent blindfold and she was literally falling over trees and things like that. Having said that, the most important thing of the blindfold is really communicating. I think for actors, the eyes are a tool. It’s like painters’ brushes. It’s a little bit like telling a painter, ‘Make this beautiful painting but you can’t use your brushes.’ So they were literally left with communicating without the most important tool they have which was kind of a testament to their brilliance. At all times we are emotionally engaging with them but they cannot use their eyes which is pretty amazing.”
Bird Box is in theaters and on Netflix December 21.