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After more than 20 years in Hollywood, Bullock earns her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in March 2005. Her plaque is placed near Speed costar ‘s. “I no longer feel compelled, because of this honor, to carve my name into every wet cement board on a sidewalk,” jokes the actress.
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PRIDE AND PREJUDICE
America’s Sweetheart is anything but as a rich politician’s bigoted wife in the 2005 drama Crash. The Oscar-winning film earns the then-40-year-old actress her first Screen Actors Guild Award for best ensemble cast. The role “gave me so much pride,” she tells PEOPLE. “It was re-inspiring.”
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THE 40-YEAR-OLD BRIDE
Bullock – who once called marriage “a death sentence” – changes her tune just days before her 41st birthday, tying the knot with motorcycle tycoon Jesse James, 36, in a sunset ceremony near Santa Barbara on July 16, 2005. “She pushes me to be a better person,” James tells PEOPLE. “It really does make me feel like I’m Superman.”
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The newlywed relishes in her most challenging role yet: stepmom to James’s three children, Chandler and Jesse Jr. (with ex-wife Karla) and his youngest daughter, Sunny (with his second wife, Janine Lindemulder). “My greatest joy is making our home what it’s supposed to be,” Bullock tells InStyle. “Being a good wife, a good stepmom, a good current wife to the ex-wife. We’re a family.”
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After vowing to never star in another romantic comedy, Bullock is pulled back into the game with The Proposal. At 44, she films a nude scene with – who tells PEOPLE that Bullock “looks terrific naked.” What’s also transparent is Bullock’s box-office appeal: The film (which she also executive-produced) rakes in more than $314 million worldwide.
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Giving $1 million to aid relief efforts after Hurricane Katrina, Bullock also donates tens of thousands of dollars to rebuild New Orleans’s Warren Easton High School, which was heavily flooded by the 2005 disaster. “I just write the checks,” says the actress, who also donates to the school’s scholarship program. In 2010, Bullock generously donates another $1 million to the victims of the Haitian earthquake.
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BY GEORGE, SHE'S GOT IT
Comedian George Lopez – whom Bullock discovered in a comedy club – graduates from his groundbreaking ABC sitcom (which Bullock developed and executive-produced) to the late-night arena in 2009 with TBS’ Lopez Tonight. “She’s the one person I’ve met other than my wife who completely has the belief in my talent, that it could be something,” Lopez says.
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The football drama The Blind Side (costarring Quinton Aaron and Tim McGraw) makes Bullock the first female star to lead a film over the $200 million mark. “Sexism is everywhere. Ageism is everywhere. But you know what? It’s about making money,” she tells EW. “I’ve never had this many opportunities in my lifetime.”
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GUEST OF HONOR
Praised for her contribution to cinema, Bullock accepts the American Riviera Award at the 25th Santa Barbara International Film Festival on Feb. 5. “This has been a big year and in a way I haven’t processed it yet,” she says while receiving the honor from Forest Whitaker.
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After acting for more than 20 years, America’s Sweetheart officially becomes a Best Actress Oscar nominee for The Blind Side. “No one expected much of this film,” Bullock – pictured at the nominees luncheon Feb. 15 in Beverly Hills – tells PEOPLE. “So every time these things have happened … I am still blown away.”
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Capping off an amazing winning streak, the star takes Best Actress for The Blind Side at the Academy Awards.”I didn’t aspire to this,” she says. “I was in awe of it. I admired it. I got to watch it like everyone else did, or present, but it wasn’t something that I said, ‘One day when I get the Oscar.’ “