LOS ANGELES (Reuters): If love works in mysterious ways, the strangest affair of the summer must be between Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves in The Lake House, a movie debuting in US theatres on Friday. The film weaves a supernatural tale of two people who fall in love even though they are living in different years - one in 2004 and the other in 2006. How do audiences get their heads around that? ''You don't,'' said Bullock. ''Once you start over-thinking it, you get into trouble.'' The premise for Lake House is, of course, not the wildest idea for a Hollywood pairing. After all, this is the town that in real life gave the world Roseanne Barr and Tom Arnold, Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley, Renee Zellweger and Kenny Chesney.
The movies, of course, have stretched peoples' romantic imaginations for years. There was 1948's Portrait of Jennie in which Joseph Cotten finds his muse in a young ghost played by Jennifer Jones. In 1990's Ghost, Demi Moore's character rediscovers romance with her husband after he dies and becomes a ghost. So, the fact that Dr Kate Forster (Bullock), living a lonely life in 2006, would fall in love with frustrated architect Alex Wyler (Reeves) in 2004, doesn't seem beyond the bounds of plausibility for the movies. The fact they communicate in letters placed in the rusted mailbox of an old lake house seems almost, well, commonplace by Hollywood standards even in the current age of e-mail and Internet dating. In fact, the pair agreed that the old notion of handwritten notes passed between potential lovers seemed more deeply romantic and personally thoughtful than digital words read off a computer screen. ''There's just a different kind of intention when you write letters,'' Reeves said.
Bullock and Reeves rose to big-time stardom together in 1994 action flick Speed, in which she played an everyday gal who ended up driving a bus that is wired to explode if its speed dropped below 50 mph Reeves is the cop who saves her. Onscreen, the pair had chemistry, and the movie was a huge hit, raking in 350 million dollars at worldwide box offices. Their appeal together helps make their supernatural love affair in Lake House seem all the more genuine.
''I think it helps that we like each other,'' Reeves said of the pair's ease at working together. ''It's like (instant coffee),'' added Bullock. ''You just add a little water, and there you go.'' At a gathering to promote the film, the pair told reporters that they have stayed friends ever since Speed. In 1997, Bullock ventured into making Speed 2: Cruise Control, in which the same premise-good-looking tough guy saves damsel in distress -- was transferred to a cruise ship on the open sea. Reeves decided against the sequel, and Jason Patric became Bullock's romantic interest in that film. Speed 2 bombed with critics and at US box offices, with about 48 million dollars. Overseas, it picked up another 116 million dollars which helped lessen the blow.
''He was smart,'' Bullock said of Reeves' decision to pass. ''Speed on a boat going 10 knots that looks like it's standing still?'' She looked at Reeves: ''You never called to say, 'Don't do it.''' He smiled but remained tight-lipped. But later, when asked whether he might reprise his role as a crime fighter who has been to hell and back in 2005 science fiction thriller ''Constantine,'' which bombed at box offices, Bullock had this friendly advice: ''Don't.'' At that, Reeves' tight lips cracked into a smile.
The two, of course, went their separate ways after Speed. Reeves remains single and quiet about his private life. Bullock married mechanic Jesse James. She is a Hollywood star who has appeared on People magazine's list of the world's most beautiful people. He is a tattooed muscleman and one-time bodyguard turned customiser of high-end motorcycles and cars. Real life? Sometimes it's stranger than Hollywood fiction.