While You Were Sleeping (film)

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While You Were Sleeping
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJon Turteltaub
Written byDaniel G. Sullivan
Fredric Lebow
Produced byRoger Birnbaum
Joe Roth
CinematographyPhedon Papamichael, Jr.
Edited byBruce Green
Music byRandy Edelman
Distributed byBuena Vista Pictures Distribution, Inc.
Release date
  • April 21, 1995 (1995-04-21)
Running time
103 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$17 million[1]
Box office$182 million[1]

While You Were Sleeping is a 1995 American romantic comedy film directed by Jon Turteltaub and written by Daniel G. Sullivan and Fredric Lebow. It stars Sandra Bullock as Lucy, a Chicago Transit Authority token collector, and Bill Pullman as Jack, the brother of a man whose life she saves, along with Peter Gallagher as Peter, the man who is saved, Peter Boyle and Glynis Johns as members of Peter's family, and Jack Warden as longtime family friend and neighbor.

The film was a critical and commercial success, grossing over $182 million at the box office. Bullock and Pullman received praise for their performances. Bullock also garnered a nomination for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Comedy or Musical.


Lucy Eleanor Moderatz (Sandra Bullock) is a lonely fare token collector for the Chicago Transit Authority, stationed at the Randolph/Wabash station. She is secretly in love with a handsome commuter named Peter Callaghan (Peter Gallagher), although they are complete strangers. On Christmas Day, she rescues him from the oncoming Chicago "L" train after a group of muggers push him onto the tracks. He falls into a coma, and she accompanies him to the hospital, where a nurse overhears her musing aloud, "I was going to marry him." Misinterpreting her, the nurse tells his family that she is his fiancée.

At first, Lucy is too caught up in the panic to explain the truth. She winds up keeping the secret for a number of reasons: she is embarrassed, Peter's grandmother Elsie (Glynis Johns) has a heart condition, and Lucy quickly comes to love being a part of Peter's big, loving family. One night, thinking she is alone while visiting Peter, she confesses about her predicament. Peter's godfather, Saul (Jack Warden), overhears the truth and later confronts her, but tells her he will keep her secret, because the accident has brought the family closer.

With no family and few friends, Lucy becomes so captivated with the quirky Callaghans and their unconditional love for her that she cannot bring herself to hurt them by revealing that Peter does not even know her. She spends a belated Christmas with them and then meets Peter's younger brother Jack (Bill Pullman), who is supposed to take over his father's furniture business. He is suspicious of her at first, but he falls in love with her as they spend time together. They develop a close friendship and soon she falls in love with him as well.

After New Year's Eve, Peter wakes up. He does not know Lucy, so it is assumed that he must have amnesia. She and Peter spend time together, and Saul persuades Peter to propose to her "again"; she accepts, even though she is in love with Jack. When Jack visits her the day before the wedding, she gives him a chance to change her mind, asking him if he can give her a reason not to marry Peter. He replies that he cannot, leaving her disappointed.

On the day of the wedding, just as a priest begins the ceremony, Lucy finally confesses everything and tells the family she loves Jack rather than Peter. At this point, Peter's real fiancée Ashley Bartlett Bacon (Ally Walker), who happens to be married herself, arrives and also demands the wedding be stopped. As the family argues, Lucy slips out unnoticed, unsure of her future.

Some time later, while Lucy is at work, Jack places an engagement ring in the token tray of her booth. She lets him into the booth (after he pays his fare), and with the entire Callaghan family watching, he proposes to her. In the last scenes of the film, they kiss at the end of their wedding, then leave on a CTA train for their honeymoon. She narrates that he fulfilled her dream of going to Florence, Italy, and explains that, when Peter asked when she fell in love with Jack, she replied, "it was while you were sleeping."



Both Demi Moore and Julia Roberts were offered the role of Lucy Moderatz but turned it down.[2]

The original screenplay was entitled “Coma Guy”. The title changed shortly after being acquired by Caravan Pictures.[3]


Box office[edit]

The film was a tremendous success, grossing a total of $182,057,016 worldwide against an estimated $17,000,000 budget. It made $9,288,915 on its opening weekend of April 21–23, 1995.[1] It was the thirteenth-highest grosser of 1995 in the United States.[4]

Critical response[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes the film has a "Certified Fresh" approval rating of 80% based on reviews from 61 critics, with an average rating of 6.40/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "While You Were Sleeping is built wholly from familiar ingredients, but assembled with such skill -- and with such a charming performance from Sandra Bullock -- that it gives formula a good name."[5] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 67 out of 100, based on reviews from 20 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[6] Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade A on scale of A to F.[7]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote: "It's a feel-good film, warm and good-hearted, and as it was heading for its happy ending, I was still a little astonished how much I was enjoying it."[8]


Bullock also was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Comedy or Musical.[citation needed] The film is recognized by American Film Institute in 2002 with a nomination for the list AFI's 100 Years...100 Passions.[9]


  1. ^ a b c "While You Were Sleeping". Box Office Mojo.
  2. ^ Howden, Martin. "Great roles actors have turned down". Yahoo Movies. Archived from the original on 2011-07-18.
  3. ^ Spencer, Ashley (April 21, 2020). "While You Were Sleeping' turns 25: An oral history of the Sandra Bullock rom-com favorite". Washington Post.
  4. ^ 1995 Yearly Box Office Results
  5. ^ "While You Were Sleeping (1995)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved September 13, 2021.
  6. ^ "While You Were Sleeping". Metacritic. Retrieved 2020-05-04.
  7. ^ "WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING (1995) A". CinemaScore. Archived from the original on 2018-12-20.
  8. ^ Ebert, Roger (1995). "While You Were Sleeping movie review (1995)". Chicago Sun-Times. 3/4 stars
  9. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Passions Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 20 August 2016.

External links[edit]