Even if she is one of America’s sweethearts, Sandra Bullock insists she’s more tough than she is sweet. In her newest film The Blind Side, due out Nov. 20, she plays Leigh Anne Tuohy, an over-the-top, well-to-do Southerner who decides to adopt a disadvantaged African-American boy who becomes a football star. In Sunday’s issue of Parade, Sandra admits that she didn’t need to search far for inspiration to play such a strong woman.

In real life Sandra is very driven and knows that sometimes that can work against her.

“Listen, I know I’m not easy to deal with. I’m controlling, and I want everything orderly, and I need lists,” she says. “My mind goes a mile a minute. I’m difficult on every single level. I’m aware that I can be annoying.”

One sign she’s controlling? She’s got an unexpected passion for ironing.

“I like to iron. Ironing is comfort. It’s control. I’m a nutty person who likes to make sure everything is in its place,” Sandra explains. “I am a big ball of high energy and organization and structure. Don’t forget, I’m half-German.”

Sandra grew up in a household that gave her the ability to be passionate about doing anything she wanted to do, ironing or otherwise.

“My sister, Gesine, and I were lucky enough to be raised by a mother who did things unconventionally, and a father who was fine with the kids being raised that way,” Sandra reveals.  “There was no gender in our house. I didn’t realize that I couldn’t do what boys could do, because my dad raised me as a boy.”

The Blind Side allowed Sandra to utilize her controlling and driven tendencies, helping her better understand her character.

“It’s a film about people doing something for the betterment of someone else in the world. It deals with the ugly side of racial tension, which is still the truth of the South. I could really identify with my character’s determination and outspokenness,” she says. “She faces some daunting challenges. I understood the fierce sense of what’s right and wrong that was driving her.”

Sandra is unconventional and she embraces that.

“I never did anything according to what anyone else wanted. That’s why I think I am happy. I do everything 100 percent — even my stupidest missteps. I know when I’m getting ready to mess up, I’m going to do it full-on.”

Just like her character, Sandra wants to live with no regrets.

“I have to fight every single day to live my true life. I don’t ever want to come home saying, ‘I should have spoken my mind. I shouldn’t have let someone say something that I didn’t feel was right,'” Sandra says.”[But] I have to remember that there’s a balance. I’m in the entertainment business. We’re here to entertain people, to make them laugh and forget.”

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