Cady Coleman had just finished watching Sandra Bullock in the "The Blind Side" when the actress reached out to her for advice.
Coleman, a self-described fan, had never met or spoken to Bullock before and so the contact in the spring of 2011 came out of the blue, or more appropriately, the blackness of outer space.
A veteran NASA astronaut, Coleman was about two-thirds of her way through a 5-month stay aboard the International Space Station at the time. Bullock, meanwhile, was set to portray an astronaut in director Alfonso Cuarón's movie, "Gravity" (opening in theaters on Oct. 4). (See Photos from 'Gravity,' a Space Thriller)
In the highly-anticipated film, Bullock and co-star George Clooney are astronauts on a routine spacewalk when they are violently separated from their space shuttle. Bullock's performance as "Dr. Ryan Stone" needed to be believable if "Gravity" was to convey to audiences the experience of being stranded in space.
But it wasn't Cuarón or Warner Brothers Pictures or even NASA that brought the real and on-screen space travelers in touch. Instead, it was a chance meeting between their family members.
"It was through my younger brother who's in the innovative wine packaging business," Coleman told collectSPACE.com in her first interview about advising Bullock for the film. "He met Sandra Bullock's sister, who is a chef."
The siblings of the astronaut and actress spoke and Bullock's sister asked if Coleman would be amenable to answering some questions from space.
As it just so happened, Coleman was watching Bullock's Academy Award-winning performance in "The Blind Side" when the two first connected.
"It was really ironic that I'd be watching this movie while running on the [space station's] treadmill and the next day receive an email with her contact information," Coleman said.