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Jesse James’ Marriage to Janine Was full of Violence He Says

from She’s just bagged a Golden Globe – and now Sandra Bullock is tipped for an Oscar. But could her very tangled private life ruin her innocent image?

They have been calling her ‘America’s Sweetheart’ for more than a decade now. But as she won a Golden Globe for Best Actress last weekend, Sandra Bullock finally gave notice that she was ready to graduate as one of the Queens of Hollywood.

Bullock, who is an improbably beautifully preserved 45, is said to be pretty much ‘a sure thing’ for an Oscar nomination for her role in The Blind Side – and the gossip in Hollywood is that she will romp home with a golden statuette come the ceremony in March.

This is absolutely a blessed time professionally for Bullock. She was the star of two mega-hit movies last year – The Blind Side, a drama about a woman adopting a homeless black youngster, and the romantic comedy The Proposal – which together grossed more than $500 million, an astonishing figure.

It’s fair to say that Bullock’s standing with the public has never been higher. She grumbles – only half-joking – that the doorbell never stops ringing with couriers bearing scripts for her to read and bottles of complimentary champagne from anxious-to-impress movie executives.

But the other dramas unfolding behind her front door in Long Beach, California, are of the kind that would no doubt have those same executives blanching and wincing over their mineral water and sushi lunches.

Four-and-a-half years ago, Bullock made a most unexpected choice of husband – one Jesse James, a heavy-set motorbike enthusiast, who is a highly unlikely consort for a gleaming goddess of the silver screen.

His former line of work was acting as a bodyguard for touring heavy metal bands, his friends are Hell’s Angels and he has a tattoo on his palm that reads, charmingly: ‘Pay up sucker.’ The word ‘rough’ comes to mind.

James’s current line of work is as a celebrity mechanic – a reality TV show featuring him is a hit on U.S. satellite TV.

Their romance began when James was newly separated from his second wife, Janine Lindemulder – who happened to be pregnant with their daughter, Sunny. Now, Bullock and James are in the middle of a deeply unsavoury custody battle with James’s former wife, who is also an actress – but one of a rather different stamp to Bullock.

Lindemulder is a 41-year-old porn star, with fully tattooed arms and peroxide bleach hair. She has worked ‘in the industry’ for 23 years and has a history of drug use, having spent an extended period addicted to cocaine, although she says she is now clean and working as a bartender.
Jesse James and Janine Lindemulder

Bullock contends that Lindemulder has actually fallen back on making her way as a professional ‘dancer’ – and those inverted commas are Bullock’s, not mine.

Late last year, Bullock and James went to court to gain custody of the little girl, Sunny, who was born after her parents separated. They now have custody, but continue to wrangle with Lindemulder over access visits and any exposure the child might have to Lindemulder’s new husband, Jeremy James Aikman, who is a convicted criminal with a charge sheet as long as your arm.

There was fury recently when Bullock discovered that Aikman had not only spent time with Sunny but posted pictures of her on his MySpace page.

Not only is this a world away from the pampered world of A-List celebrity that Bullock inhabits, it’s also nothing that her upbringing as the adored daughter of a middle-class opera singer and a voice-coach father prepared her for.

Probably the most striking element of this unusual story is that Bullock says, in legal papers seen by the Mail, that she has sacrificed her own desire to have a baby because of the need to provide stability for another woman’s child.

In a letter written to the judge late last year, and read out in court, she said: ‘I am aware that Janine has claimed many times that my desire to have Sunny was because I could not have children of my own. As difficult as that is for me to hear and to write, it could not be further from the truth.

‘To share the joy of bringing another life into the world with Jesse is something that I desire very much, but I realised that due to the instability in Sunny’s life, bringing another child into the world at this time would not be in Sunny’s best interests, so that is something we chose to put on hold.’

Sadly for Sandra, of course, her age is now seriously against her and she surely knows that children of her own will probably never happen.
Sandra Bullock with Jesse James

She spent her 30s building a career, declaring herself too professionally focused to get married or have a family. Then, in her early 40s, when she met a man who already had children (James also has two boys from his first marriage to a woman called Karla), she decided that fate had presented her with all the children she needed.

‘I met Jesse and it all fell into place,’ she told an interviewer. ‘Suddenly the answer presented itself in a much better package than I’d ever planned. . . I spent my whole life avoiding having children for the reason that most people should avoid having children, which was selfishness.

‘And then I met Jesse and I went: “Wow!” There’s that feeling of wanting to procreate because I love someone and I see him to be a good father. And the Universe went: “No, you have some other things you need to take care of.” ‘

Perhaps it’s not surprising to learn that Bullock is rather an unusual movie star all round. Her mother was Helga D Meyer, a German opera singer, and her father John Bullock, an American businessman. She lived in Germany for much of her childhood and spent time travelling with her parents and sister Gesine between Europe and America.

She dropped out of East Carolina University to pursue her acting career (although she later completed her degree) and made her first notable film appearance in Demolition Man in 1993, followed a year later by Speed and then a string of romantic comedies including While You Were Sleeping, Two Weeks Notice and Miss Congeniality.

Long dubbed America’s Sweetheart, she had significant relationships with co-stars Tate Donovan, Matthew McConaughey (the two of them set up home together in Austin, Texas) and with Ryan Gosling, but never settled down.

Ultimately, she said, she had no desire to marry. ‘I’m one of those people who are very good at being alone,’ she said.

‘Whether I was in a wonderful relationship or not, my priority was my work, my art, what I wanted to carve out for myself. When I wasn’t responsible for anyone else but me I had a wonderful, wonderful time.’

She added: ‘I’ve always been petrified of marriage – I’ve always thought that someone would want to change me, that I’d be locked up like this specimen in a box.’

That all changed when, in 2004, she entered Jesse James’s motorcycle shop, West Coast Choppers. She had brought in her godson to meet James, a minor celebrity thanks to shows such as Motorcycle Mania and Monster Garage.

James recalls: ‘Sandra came into the shop and I was kinda conked out. I asked her out and she said “No”, so I asked her assistant, and it turned into a great courtship.’

The great courtship, unconventionally, was conducted against the background of James exiting his second marriage, to a porn star. In a court statement, James described their marriage, which lasted less than two years, as ‘not a great experience’, and said: ‘It was filled with violence. It culminated with assault on me by Janine.’

Nobody in Hollywood could quite believe what was going on. Bullock is one of the town’s elite, earning between £6 million and £9 million a movie.

She is a sophisticated star with an interest in architecture; he is a man who has made his name customising the motorbikes of famous clients. As her co-star Hugh Grant drawled: ‘I haven’t met the motor mechanic yet, but I’m dying to.’ Bullock snapped back: ‘Hugh has a mental deficiency.’

James and Bullock were married in 2005, exchanging vows at sunset on a ranch near Santa Barbara. It was the oddest of affairs, with Bullock looking beautiful in a white lace dress, while arriving on a monster truck.

Friends in attendance included Star Trek’s William Shatner, actress Jamie Lee Curtis and James Hetfield, singer with heavy rock band Metallica. There were life-sized ice sculptures of a swan and a Chopper motorbike at the reception.

By this time, her mother Helga had died of cancer, but Bullock believes that her spirit was with her as she said her vows. Her loss made her feel that she should ‘savour the moment’.

Quite soon after the marriage, it became obvious that the set-up with Lindemulder was problematic. Lindemulder’s friends indicated that she hadn’t wanted to divorce James after their initial separation. After Sunny was born, Lindemulder says that James barely saw her for two years and wanted to be part of her life only when he became seriously involved with Bullock.

It has to be said, though, that Lindemulder is not anyone’s idea of an apple-pie mom. She started off trying to make it in the movies and then ended up working in lesbian adult films in the Nineties. There was an early marriage to a construction worker, which resulted in a son named Tyler.

Lindemulder went on to date Motley Crue lead singer Vince Neil and a sex tape surfaced of the two of them and a Penthouse model named Brandy Ledford.

In 2008, she was ordered to pay almost $300,000 in back taxes, and she ended up serving a six-month prison term for tax evasion when she was unable to pay.

This was the point at which Bullock and James stepped in, saying that they should have temporary custody of Sunny while her mother was in prison. Indeed, they exhorted the judge to jail Lindemulder, with James saying ‘She has chosen to support her lifestyle of drugs and living beyond her means’ rather than pay taxes.

He also said that he thought a spell behind bars would teach her the true meaning of ‘consequences’.

‘I believe that Janine should not be shown any leniency in her sentence,’ he wrote.

Upon her release, James asked for proof that she would provide a safe environment for their child and keep her away from ‘pornographers, drug addicts, guns and firearms’. He also asked for custody, saying that Lindemulder had never taken Sunny to a playground or to a pre-school.

Bullock contended that Lindemulder would leave the child unattended while she was ‘asleep from drug use’. They both said that Sunny was better off with them, in a happy family home where she has her own room and visits from two stepbrothers.

Lindemulder had to go to court to have supervised access to the little girl at Christmas and now sees her only one day a week. There are rumblings that she is seeking more time with her daughter.

There is also talk that she has made a video diary about her time in prison and her struggles with James and Bullock – and if she can find the right business partner, she is thinking of releasing a film of her own.

It won’t, of course, be a blockbuster to compete with Sandra Bullock’s own work. But heaven knows it’s the sort of publicity that an Oscar contender could do without.


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