updated 03/09/2010 AT 2:00 PM ET
•originally published 03/09/2010 AT 4:00 PM ET
Jesse James may be a tough guy who builds motorcycles and performs death-defying stunts, but he’s not above the pomp of the Oscars – or being a plus-1 to the night’s most celebrated actress, his wife Sandra Bullock.
“It’s awesome,” he told PEOPLE of being her date as they made their way into the Governor’s Ball at the Hollywood & Highland Grand Ballroom after the Oscar ceremony Sunday. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to support my wife and her work. She does it all the time for me. She goes to Mexico, to the desert, to the hospital – a lot – to support me and my work. The least I can do is put on a suit and support her.”
James may be more comfortable in his garage than on the red carpet, but he was bursting with pride as he checked out his wife and her shimmering, gold-beaded Marchesa gown.
“She’s beautiful. She’s amazing. She takes my breath away, James said. “Sometimes I look at her and I do, I just lose my breath.”
Watching Bullock, who won a Best Actress award for her role in The Blind Side, clutch her new gold statuette, James added: “I’m so proud of her. Nobody deserves this more and works harder. She’s old-school Hollywood – just gracious and a star who’s so much better than you expect them to be.”
Bullock, who told reporters backstage after her win that she was ready for a meal, got her wish at the Ball, where she dined on a smoked salmon and potato pancake appetizer and chicken pot pie.
What could make a night that included a smitten date, a dazzling dress, an Oscar win and chicken pot pie even better? “I just want to go home and be surrounded by everybody in my family,” Bullock told PEOPLE. “That will make it all the more special.”