After weeks of keeping mum in the face of damaging allegations about husband Jesse James and their marriage, actress Sandra Bullock finally broke her silence, not to discuss her marriage but to deny reports of the existence of a sex tape.
Why that and why now?
"This one involved her," E! executive news editor Ken Baker said.
This is, after all, a woman known for her chasteness on screen. She didn't perform her first nude scene until last year, when at the age of 44, she appeared naked, except for a strategically placed loofah, in her romantic comedy hit "The Proposal."
"There is no sex tape," the Oscar-winning actress said in a statement to People magazine Tuesday. "There never has been one and there never will be one."
She was presumably referring to a Radar Online report that her estranged husband, who reportedly cheated on her with at least four other women, has made more than a dozen sex tapes, some of them featuring Nazi paraphernalia. Another Internet report suggested that Bullock was in one of the tapes.
James also discussed the matter Wednesday, saying in an exclusive statement to People, "The claims of sex tapes are untrue and completely fabricated."
Presumably, James was referring to not just the reported tape of the couple but the other dozen or so as well.
Bullock's statement marked the actress' first public remarks since reports of James' alleged philandering surfaced last month.
Bullock's rep did not respond to requests to comment.
Bullock has been known to guard her personal life, which, up until now, has been absent from the tabloids. "Her romantic life was never messy, there was nothing to indicate she ever made horrible love choices," E! columnist Marc Malkin said.
Bullock maintains a home in Austin, Texas, to which she retreats often to get away from Hollywood. "Acting allows her to live her life in Austin, where she has an enormous ranch and is rumored to be part-owner in several business," Popeater columnist Rob Shuter said. "She lives there 80 percent of the year."
Bullock Secluded but Not Cut Off
While Bullock remains in seclusion, Baker does not believe she is completely cut off from the world. Her rapid response -- within hours -- to the rumored sex tape proves it.
"I got a feeling she's consuming a lot of this media and is aware of what's going on. She's not just tucked away hiding somewhere. She's right here in town," Baker said, referring to Hollywood. "The fact that she came out so boldly, it's pretty remarkable."
It also cast doubt on the existence of a tape with Bullock, he said. "It sounds like she's saying unequivocally there's not a tape."
One online report claimed that Bullock's security team over the weekend searched for the tape at the Los Angeles home the couple once shared. Baker said there was indeed a moving truck at their home but there's no way to confirm what contents were removed.
More significant than what was removed from their home, he said, is the fact that Bullock has neither seen James nor been near the house since she left days before the scandal broke.
James checked into the Sierra Tucson rehab center in Arizona on Mar. 26. Reports surfaced online earlier this week that James had left the center. But Baker said James had some issues with privacy and security, but those were worked out and he remains at Sierra Tucson.
On Monday, James' former "Celebrity Apprentice" boss, Donald Trump, told MTV News: "He's a tough guy. He's very sullen, but he's tough. But he really did self-destruct and I can't imagine after what he's been with and what he's done that he gets Sandra back."
Meanwhile, Bullock is getting some support from a close circle of friends. Last week, she braved the paparazzi to visit friend Gabriel Brener, an investor in her Fortis Films production company. Comedian George Lopez, whose ABC sitcom Bullock produced, visited his friend for a second time on Monday and told the assembled paparazzi, "She's all right."
Lopez declined to comment to ABCNews.com.
For now, Bullock remains the "ultimate sympathetic character," Baker said. But, he added, she will be judged on how she handles James, her marriage and the continuing scandal.
"Like it or not, she is a part of this scandal, even if it's as a victim," he said.