NEW YORK, April 18 (UPI) -- After she stars in a frothy romantic comedy, there is nothing Sandra Bullock likes to do more than make a suspenseful crime drama.
"It's fun to go back and forth," the 37-year-old "28 Days" and "Speed" actress told United Press International.
"I think any actor will tell you once they get done doing one thing, they want to do exactly the opposite... I tend to go, 'I will never do a comedy again' and then I do something else and I'm like, 'I'll never do a drama again,' so it's just variety," she said.
Bullock, who most recently played an FBI agent undercover at a beauty pageant in the comedy "Miss Congeniality," will be seen starting Friday as a seasoned homicide detective investigating the murder of a young woman in Barbet Schroeder's ("Reversal of Fortune," "Single White Female") new drama, "Murder By Numbers."
"I wanted to do a psychological thriller," Bullock explained. "Not an action thriller and not a whodunnit because you know 'who done it' at the beginning of the film. How many other films give away who did it right in the beginning? The sort of the unraveling and the thriller aspect comes from not knowing what the characters are going to do... I think to pull that off is really tricky and I like tricky things and I love dark material. I love it and I also like topical material."
The entertainment industry has in recent years come under fire for producing films, video games and TV shows that glorify violence. Some parent groups and legislators have even gone so far as to say the media has inspired some young audience members to commit acts of savagery, as was charged in the 1999 Columbine school shootings. In that case, two teen-age boys, ardent movie buffs and Internet fans, killed and injured more than a dozen students and teachers at their school.
"You can dissect this and [wonder] what soapbox are we getting on," Bullock replied. "But [it is essentially about] something that's been going on for thousands of years, but now is very topical because of Dartmouth and Columbine and we initially based this on Leopold and Loeb [the 1924 case where two intelligent young men concocted a murder/kidnap scheme as an elaborate game to get away with the perfect crime.]
"It's just harder to understand why someone that young could be in that much pain or that much rage or think they have that much control over humanity and I think we have a tendency to skirt the issue and whitewash things and sweep them under the carpet and I look at them through the media and think, 'Oh, they are the evil people and we are the good people' and I don't identify with that and that's not the way it goes.
"You need to put a face, a human being with feelings and complexities and I think once you have that, it becomes far more disturbing where you can't ignore it, where you really need to look at what's making this happen. Is it the media? Is it video games? Is it the upbringing? Is it school? What is the cause? So, I think that is something [about the film] that is very topical and it's not glorified, which I loved," she explained.
Asked what the mood was on the set of such a serious movie, Bullock replied, "Everyone had a pretty wicked good sense of humor."
"When you're doing a film like this, you need a little stress relief and usually I'm known as a prankster but I was not really having a good time, not a bad time but not an easy time of figuring out the role. That's why Ryan and Michael and Ben [Chaplin] were instrumental in causing most of the trouble," she revealed.
To lighten the atmosphere, Bullock also had barbecue flown in from Texas and hired massage therapists and acupuncturists to work on the cast and crew.
"If you take care of your crew, they will go the extra hour, they will make the shot work. They come up with some of the best ideas. If you go: 'This scene's not working. Why is this working?' They [often come up with solutions.] When I crew up, my first thought is 'How can I make them as happy and want to come to work every single day?' because there are going to be some hard days."
"We had this wellness center and if you could get past the Teamsters who already are in there... You know in the beginning they're like, 'this is ridiculous,' but by the end they're having their teas and getting acupuncture and talking about Feng Shui. You can always tell whose been in there because they smell like those great oils and they're all happy and shiny. It also makes people healthier because on a crew if one person gets sick, everybody gets sick. That's what this business is for. They work harder than we do."
Bullock said she started offering perks to her crew when all she could afford were Starbuck's runs in the early 1990s.
"I was so happy that I actually got the job that I just wanted to thank everybody," she laughed. "Actors get such ridiculous perks that you might as well make some of those perks benefit everybody."
Bullock can next be seen in "The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood," based on the best-selling novel.
She is currently filming "Two Weeks Notice" with Hugh Grant. Describing the romantic comedy as a valentine to New York, Bullock said it asks the question, "Is it ever too late to tell someone you love them?" This project gave her the opportunity to co-star with Grant ("Bridget Jones's Diary," "Four Weddings and a Funeral,") an actor Bullock has said she wanted to work with for years.
The star of "Practical Magic" and "Hope Floats" then seized the moment to set the record straight on any rumors you may have heard about her recently.
"Anything that's been in the paper, since I've started shooting [is untrue...] Hugh and I aren't dating. We're not fighting. I'm not pregnant," she emphasized.
Referring to a tabloid gossip column piece that accused her of snubbing firefighters who visited the movie set to present her with a T-shirt commemorating the events of Sept. 11, Bullock continued: "I'm not ignoring firemen. Tonight, I'm having dinner with firemen."
Bullock said she understands that unflattering gossip comes with the territory of being famous, but admitted, "That one kind of hurt."
"We came here to New York. We wanted to put the money back in, say thank you. The firemen are always on our set. At the end of the day, if they're not there, you're like: 'Where's Engine so-and-so? They said they were going to be here.'"
"Murder By Numbers" opens Friday.