Nearly a decade after her first cover shot, Bullock makes headlines again – this time in the love department – when she gets serious with tattooed motorcycle tycoon Jesse James. “Sandy has a great bull detector – always has,” says producing partner Marc Lawrence. “She wouldn’t be with anyone who wasn’t the real thing.”
Days before her 41st birthday, Bullock surprises loved ones when her barbecue birthday party turns into a wedding. In an ivory Angel Sanchez gown, the actress marries James near Santa Barbara on July 16, 2005. “The thing that we want at the end of the day is the same,” she says, “We want to come home.”
A year after wedding her motorcycle man, Bullock relishes in her role as wife. “I’ve been learning to take weekends off more lately,” she says of striking a balance between career and family. Adds James, “She pushes me to be a better person … It really does make me feel like I’m Superman.”
With marriage, Bullock takes on a new role as stepmom to James’s three children. “I have my family, and it’s the family that some higher power put in my path,” she says. “My love and my want for their future and their happiness is no less than if I’d had a child on my own.”
A mere eight days after Bullock’s Oscar win, news of James’s alleged affair with stripper and tattoo model Michelle “Bombshell” McGee rocks one of Hollywood’s strongest marriages. “Her life as she knew it changed,” a close friend told PEOPLE.
After filing for divorce from an apologetic James, Bullock surprises the world with a joyful secret: She is finalizing the adoption of a baby boy, Louis. “He’s just perfect, I can’t even describe him any other way,” she says of the 3½-month-old, born in New Orleans. “It’s like he’s always been a part of our lives.”