Sandra Bullock, photographed exclusively for Vanity Fair by Norman Jean Roy in Malibu, California, on May 3, 2006.
NEW YORK, N.Y.—Sandra Bullock tells Vanity Fair contributing editor Michael Shnayerson that she didn't have a very positive outlook on marriage before she tied the knot with Jesse James. (The July issue of Vanity Fair hits newsstands in New York and Los Angeles on June 7 and nationally June 13.) "I always thought of marriage as a death sentence, that there'd be a ball and chain, and you'd be told, 'You need to stop doing these things and become a good little wife.'" Now, she says, "People say, 'Oh, my God, you're going to have sex with one person the rest of your life.' I hope I have sex with him for the rest of my life, because I like it!"
Bullock says people always tell her, "First year's the hardest." Her response: "I'm like, 'Shut up!' I think what I was anxious about that I'm no longer anxious about is 'I hope I do this well.' But it's not all up to me, which is nice."
Bullock tells Shnayerson that she takes "such pleasure in being female these days." So much so that "we make a joke of it: 'Are you Stan or Stella today?' There's such a girl in me that has longed to be a girl, that I haven't allowed out, that has slipped through, and I'm thinking, God, I like her! And I didn't lose anything. I didn't lose control, but I feel empowered in a weird way. I can say I'm going to stay home, cut flowers, cook and bake a cake, and tomorrow I'm going to go back to the evil empire, and I'll have to fire someone. I've always been able to go back and forth—I just didn't allow myself to do it."
Bullock, who lives across the street from James's first wife and their two children, says, "She's amazing. And we all get along. Totally." Regarding whether she'll have children, Bullock tells Shnayerson, "My feeling is if it happens, it happens.… I'm not actively. … Physically, I'm not worried about anything in that department.… I don't feel as if I'm searching and trying to add any more to my life. I just got married! I have so much that I'm having a hard enough time appreciating and accepting, because I'm not one of those people who can accept good as well as I can accept the bad.… If it's my calling to be a participant in the raising of great kids as a stepmother, and be that great influence, great. If I get pregnant tomorrow, everything would change."
Bullock first met James, the tattooed host of the cable-TV show Monster Garage, when she took her 10-year-old godson to tour West Coast Choppers, James's store in Long Beach, California, as a Christmas present. When they arrived, her godson was struck dumb. "Didn't say a word!" Bullock recalls. "I thought, God, do I have to make conversation?" When she got back to her office, she learned "this nice Jesse person" had called. "I said, 'Do not give the man my number—give him my e-mail. I'll politely say, No, I'm not in a place … '" Open-minded and tolerant as she felt herself to be, Bullock wasn't ready to be dating a biker dude with tattoos.
Through a series of e-mails, James lobbed thoughtful queries about politics, life, and racism. "I went, 'Wow.' I didn't think he'd like jazz or classical music," Bullock recalls. "So basically through a courtship of letters, which I didn't even recognize, I learned about a human being. It was not something I wanted, needed, or looked for, but because he was a stronger person than I was, spiritually and on a tolerance level, I was lucky enough that he educated me."