Press conferences are inherently awful to attend. They’re early. It’s packed. People are pushy. The questions are (often) crazy. There’s always a loud, aggressive foreigner in the crowd spouting nonsense.
But the New York press conference for American Hustle was too good to pass up.
Director David O. Russell’s follow-up to Silver Linings Playbook is based on the FBI ABSCAM operation of the late ‘70s. Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale, sporting a hideous comb over and huge gut) and his mistress, Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams, ravishing), are raking in plenty of dough through various small time scams. After they’re busted by hotshot FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper, great perm)—much to the chagrin of his disapproving boss, played by Louis CK—they’re forced into cooperating in an undercover investigation involving Miami mobsters, U.S. congressmen, and the Mayor of Camden, New Jersey, Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner, bouffant ‘do). Things, however, get dicey when Irving’s fiery Long Island housewife, Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence, electric), gets involved.
The best film ensemble of the year—along with O. Russell, co-writer Eric Warren Singer, and the film’s producers—gathered at the Crosby Hotel in Downtown New York to discuss the dementedly brilliant American Hustle. Here are the best bits from the talk.
On Jennifer Lawrence’s Kiss with Amy Adams:
Amy Adams: Well, I feel like Jennifer really made that contribution. I came up with the idea, but she executed it in a way that felt driven purely from character. It didn’t just feel like a moment where two girls are going to kiss onscreen—it felt emotional. And the laugh she gives after? That was genius.
Bradley Cooper On His Perm:
Bradley Cooper: With Richie, the exterior—the crustacean—around this spirit David was creating, it all was informed by this idea that he’s a child, really. He’s a young boy. He being Richie, not David O. Russell. [Laughs] And we also wanted me to look different and be a bit unrecognizable, and then we thought curly hair. And it was David’s idea that he’d curl his own hair because he wants to look different. He tries to be like these guys who he thinks are archetypes of men, to him—like Dock Ellis, the baseball player who curled his hair. And he chews his tongue because it’s a manly thing that gives him this sort of bravado, but it’s also probably stress-related. He wants to be recognized in this world.
On What Katniss and Rosalyn Would Say To Each Other If They Crossed Paths [Ed Note: This was the dumbest question asked, and prompted the entire panel to laugh/groan]:
Jennifer Lawrence: I actually brought The Hunger Games books to set. [Laughs] No. Every movie is different. Every character is different. I have no idea what Katniss and Rosalyn… I don’t even want to say that sentence because I don’t want people to print it. Yeah, every movie is different.
On Jennifer Lawrence’s Wild Dance to “Live and Let Die”:
Jennifer Lawrence: We were going to go over the script before we started shooting and [David] said he had a vision of Rosalyn wearing yellow cleaning gloves and running through the entire house singing, “Live and Let Die.” I said, “That sounds incredible… how’s it going to make sense?” I’m so stupid with these and like, “I’ll dance, I’ll sing, whatever,” but she’s so angry and she’s at this point where she’s been lied to for so long and left out of everything, and she’s getting to this point in this marriage that she’s been fighting for so long, that she’s been imprisoning this man for so many years in this marriage and she’s finally ready to let it die. So, I think that was this great, crazy moment. I threw my neck out, actually.
On Bradley Cooper and Amy Adams’s Dance Scene:
Bradley Cooper: We had a ball dancing together.
Jennifer Lawrence: Yeah, so did we!
Bradley Cooper: [Laughs] They’re both wonderful dancers.
Amy Adams: Yeah… but who’s better, Bradley? Come on now, it’s a simple question.
Jennifer Lawrence: It’s so simple. I have an answer…
On What Motivates Them As An Actor:
Christian Bale: It’s definitely studying people. It’s nice. Everybody at nighttime, they dream and they tend to go a little bit insane, and that’s acceptable. To me, it’s sort of dreaming in a waking state because you get to study people and you get to go a little insane and be obsessive about something, and it’s expected, and the more you are the better it is. I find that very addictive.
Jennifer Lawrence: It’s a study of people and all of these things I’ve been doing since I was little that were always useless in Kentucky—just watching people, studying them, and being able to mimic their body language and figure out a person, like what kind of person you’re playing, how they move, and how they walk. But, between action and cut, it’s almost like meditating in a weird way because anything that you’re feeling, like if I’m cold between action and cut, I’m not; or if I’m in physical pain between action and cut, I’m not. I’m in a completely different frame of mind and it’s a high.
On What Golden Age Cinema Actress Jennifer Lawrence Reminds Russell Of:
David O. Russell: I immediately think of Carole Lombard with [Lawrence].
On the Over-The-Top ‘70s Era of the Film:
Christian Bale: I gotta say though, I think it’s only over-the-top to us now looking back at the fashions in the era, because it was such a wonderfully exuberant era. It was like Halloween for a decade, and the colors were garish, and the style was just phenomenal for us to look back on. But the people themselves, we’re no different now.
On Working with Louis CK:
Bradley Cooper: I’ve hit the jackpot I think with working with the two best comedians around: Zach Galifianakis and Louis CK. He was unbelievable, and it was perfect casting. It was effortless and addictive, and we wanted more. We’ve become friends since, and we look back on those scenes with a lot of delight. It was Louis’s idea to put that last thing in—their final exchange. We were laughing so hard on the day when we’re walking down the hall and they’re yelling at each other about the ice-fishing story. It had gotten to that point. He was wonderful.