Wednesday, May 29, 2024

“American Hustle” Director David O. Russell: “I Think Women are Smarter Than Men”


At the American Hustle Screening Friday night at the DGA in West Hollywood. Guests included Harvey Weinstein, Sally Kellerman, agents and VIPS.  It was quite literally a “packed house.” Long lines of people wanting to see David O. Russell’s newest film formed outside. Unfortunately, many were turned away.

“Mad Men” creator Matthew Weiner moderated the Q and A panel afterwards, which included writer/director David O. Russell and actors Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner and Elisabeth Rohm.

Sally Kellerman told me: “Amy’s speaking about David is the way I spoke about Altman.  They are similar filmmakers.  I was blown away by this film.  I just loved every second.” 

Here are some notes from the Q&A:

Weiner: “I just saw the movie with the rest of you.  What an attentive audience.  And no one is hungry and leaving.  This movie is really amazing.  I felt like I was in the period like ‘Dog Day Afternoon,’ or ‘Falcon and the Snowman.’  It wasn’t kitschy.  I just loved it.”

Russell: Having you moderate Matt is a treat for me.

Weiner then asked what was most important to him as a director?

Russell: Nothing is greater than the trust I have with my actors.  Without that trust risk and heart of the actors we don’t have a movie. They’ve all done things they have never done before.  I mean Jeremy singing “Delihah” is priceless.

Weiner: They should trust you.  These are killer parts.  And the music is spot on. How did Christian [Bale] come aboard?

Russell: Christian and I were interested in the bigger ideas. That we all have to believe our own narrative, that everybody is living that invention of themselves.

Cooper: The great thing about David is the form of collaboration.  His script is pained over and beautiful, but it’s also inspired that day, it’s written one way and then we move it deeper and deeper.  I love that and I hunger for that as an actor. To me it’s the best way to make movies.

Renner: David writes scripts so well.  Shooting a scene, there are no rules.  David is a storyteller that focuses on character.

Amy Adams: We’re all actors and actresses pretending in life from one moment to the next.  It’s all depends on how well we do it.  My character was hard for me to play; she was on the edge emotionally. She’s in the midst of survival.

Russell: I’m very into strong women characters (prompting applause.) It all started with Amy in ‘The Fighter,’ I do think women are smarter than men.  They express their intelligence, which comes out in a way that totally baffles men.  That’s in the movie.  Jennifer does her logic as only she can it and comes out as crazy but it’s all truthful.

Weiner: The honestly of the movie is that everyone has a reason for what they’re doing; it’s such a textured film.  I didn’t know what was going to happen because the people are so real.  A lot of people surviving.  Everybody has two characters going on.

Matt: You guys got it right.  God bless New Jersey; it’s the most interesting place.  And Robert DeNiro, how great was he?  I mean we have seen him kill a million people.

Russell: Jersey is  a treasure trove.

Weiner: What’s  is our cultural obsession with criminals?  I love me my criminals.

Russell: I’m interested in the hearts of these people, they weren’t just gangsters.  They were trying to live and love their lives.

Weiner: This movie is very romantic.  A lot of pathos and personal habits in there.  These characters had a whole life, which we got to check in on.

Russell: Their emotional world interested me.  The theme of re-invention I love.

Cooper: David doesn’t settle. He gets home runs.  He always strives for magic.  There is no set like David’s set.


Leah Sydney
Leah Sydney
Leah Sydney writes from Los Angeles for A seasoned journalist with a long history during the halcyon days of the NY Daily News, Leah is a member of the Critics Choice and Rotten Tomatoes.

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