In Bird Box, Sandra Bullock’s character is focused on staying alive — and averting her eyes — as a mysterious force threatens the population. Why? Simply seeing the monster causes people to die.
But when she wasn’t fighting for her life or her children’s, the Oscar winner, 54, helped lighten the mood between takes of the dramatic thriller.
“Sandy is this super cool person who manages to keep a funny, positive vibe on set even when you’re doing heavy content matter,” Bird Box‘s Danielle Macdonald tells PEOPLE. “She’s a really good connector of people. Sandy’s just the life of the party. She loops everyone in and makes you feel really comfortable really quickly.”
Macdonald, who plays expectant mom Olympia, especially appreciated the atmosphere Bullock created given the weight of her role.
“I’m quite emotional in most of my scenes, so it was nice to have that kind of reprieve and downtime on set,” the Australian actress, 27, says. “Getting in that mindset of crying all day, you tend to get a headache.”
Filming in Los Angeles allowed Macdonald to relax with friends — both furry and human — at home when she wasn’t shooting.
“When I would get off set, I would meet up with my friends or I would go cuddle with my animals,” she says. “Maybe watch some cheesy, fun show or movie, or something like that just to get me in a good headspace. Then the next day, get back into it.”
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Coming together off-screen turned the cast into a family in the same manner facing an unknown predator does in the movie.
“These explosive strangers from completely different backgrounds, different ages and everything, they come together in this house to ward off this unseen threat,” Macdonald says. “It’s so much about keeping everyone alive and that family connection that ends up being created, and really doing anything to the people that you love. It was really cool to find that family connection with each other.”
And she understands Bird Box is hard to explain to someone who hasn’t seen it yet.
“It’s kind of a post-apocalyptic thriller type movie,” the Patti Cake$ star says. “It’s a hard one to define, genre-wise.”
One thing Macdonald knows for sure: She’s a “big Disney fan” just like her character, who plans to name her baby after a Disney princess.
“I love Disney movies,” Macdonald raves.
Bird Box, also starring Sarah Paulson, is out now on Netflix and in select theaters.