Sandra Bullock, an Oscar-winning actress who weathered a divorce and a cheating scandal, feels empowered by a single word - "Mama."
Her son Louis, who she adopted just before her much-publicized 2010 split from husband Jesse James, turns 2 years old in January and is learning how to talk.
"He calls me 'Mama' and it gives you a sense of power," the 46-year-old actress told OnTheRedCarpet.com. "It breaks your heart and opens it up in the best way. It is astounding. It's like something I just can't even explain. But I think everyone who has a child knows what it feels like. It makes you a better person."
Bullock and James, a motorcycle customizer, married in 2005. He was her first husband. The two split in March 2010 amid reports James had cheated on Bullock, which he later confirmed, and after she won her first Oscar, given for her performance in the movie "The Blind Side." The actress filed for divorce in April 2010 and it was finalized that June.
Bullock maintains a home in New Orleans with her son, who is her only child. She and James had adopted him in January 2010. After their split, she announced she would raise him as a single parent.
Bullock made her comments about her son to OnTheRedCarpet.com an interview to promote her new film "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close," which sees her playing a mother to 9-year-old Oskar, portrayed by Thomas Horn. Her son searches New York City for a lock that matches a key left behind by his father, who died in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the city's World Trade Center.
Bullock was visiting Manhattan on the day Islamic extremists caused two planes to crash into the buildings.
"We were here that day and we saw it - we saw the second plane," Bullock told OnTheRedCarpet.com. "We saw the people and we saw everything. So I got to see an amazing city pull together and try and figure out what the situation was and help each other."
To prepare for her role, the actress had the opportunity to listen to voice messages several people had left their loved ones before they died in the attacks.
"I was blown away at the calm and the hope and the inspiration they left behind for those who they knew were going to hear it," she said. "I don't know how in that time in their life, they were able to say, 'I'm going to leave a gift behind.' And they did."
"That, to me, is ... just made you so proud of humanity and kindness and love. It did restore your faith in people," she said. "Hearing that ... in the ugliest of times against humanity, you had these beautiful gifts come out of this horrible, horrible situation for those left behind."
"Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close" is based on a 2005 book by Jonathan Safran Foer. The movie stars Tom Hanks and hit several theaters in the United States on December 25. It will be released to many more on Jan. 20, 2012.
Reporting by George Pennacchio of KABC Television, which produces the entertainment show "On The Red Carpet" (check for local TV listings).