During a press conference for “American Hustle” I had the opportunity to speak with Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Christian Bale, Amy Adams and Director David O. Russell. The crew shared their thoughts and experiences with their roles, traveling back to the 70s and how it was to work with Russell.
ShowBizCafe: What did you enjoy most about your characters? What made it fun to play these different roles?
Christian Bale: The characters were really colorful and shiny and really fun to play, but we were shooting this film for 42 days and so you have to find much more than that to be getting yourself up at the hours that we get up every morning. It’s like when someone puts on a mask and then reveals their true self, everyone is performing in a certain way and then it’s about at some point stripping away that mask and seeing what’s really beneath them. That happens in some ways to each one of the characters in the movie, they attempt to reinvent themselves in their need to move on and find something else in their lives. That ultimately becomes what is fascinating [to me]… you get a sense that you’re still discovering the character or you’re still discovering the piece as you keep going.
Amy Adams: My favorite part was playing the vulnerability of my character because yeah she has this physicality and this power, but if I don’t ground that on any true emotion it’s not going to be that much fun to play because there are no layers and she won’t be multidimensional. Playing those dimensions is a thrill as an actress.
Bradley Cooper: There are all these different physical things that are fun to play as an actor. The exterior that David was creating around [Richie}, it all was informed around the idea that he is a child. We wanted him to look different and that maybe I’d look a bit unrecognizable. We thought maybe curly hair and then David [thought that] maybe he curls his own hair because he wants to look different. [Richie] tries to be like these guys that he thinks are archetypes of men to him like Dock Ellis who is a baseball player who curls his hair.
ShowBizCafe: The emotions in this film are very over the top and passionate. How did you find the inspiration to reach down for them?
Amy Adams: Not everything in reality is subtle and slow. When I lose my cool, it is over the top, in life Amy is over the top at times and that’s how we are as humans. What David really does, I feel, is exemplify reality. He finds the moments in people’s lives’ where this pushed reality is the truth for these characters.
ShowBizCafe: One of the distinct qualities about David’s sets is how free and open to creativity they are. There is a story about Amy suggesting the kiss with Jennifer. Amy, how does it feel to make such a great contribution to the script? And are there any other scenes that were also changed or improvised out of inspiration?
Amy Adams: 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 feel just like a moment in which two girls are going to kiss on the screen, it was from somewhere emotional. She killed it and then the laugh she gives after I mean come on, genius. I didn’t direct her, I just thought: “what if she plants one on her” and Jennifer executed that in a brilliant way that sells it comically and dramatically, and it never feels that it shouldn’t have been there, it feels so organic and that’s all due to Jennifer.
David O. Russell: Before the [kissing] scene with Amy and Bradley, we suddenly huddle and say “tell her you love her” and we never even told [Amy] that we were going to do that. In the scene something chemically changed in her and she just kind of melted and suddenly she’s leaning forward to kiss him, which had not happened in any take.
Jennifer Lawrence: David above anything, his characters are incredible and you have so much emotional freedom that sometimes what’s on the page turns into something completely different when David starts yelling these ideas when you’re on your toes.
ShowBizCafe: Amy, how does dance play a part of Sydney Prosser’s story?
Amy Adams: I was trained as a dancer so it’s always been part of how I story tell, it’s through my body and through movement. For me dancing was sort of how I started to feel her. One of the things that struck me was that once I had the wardrobe and I knew that she was going to be a sexual being I also thought about people who also had an elegance through their sexuality and the power that they had through their sexuality. I thought about [people like] Ann-Margret, these dancers who seemed like they were still in control because of the way they moved their bodies.
ShowBizCafe: Did you find it difficult to play characters based in such a different era?
Christian Bale: I think the era is certainly over the top to us looking back at the fashions because it was such a wonderfully exuberant era; it was like Halloween for a decade. The colors were garish and the style was just phenomenal, but the people themselves were no different.
ShowBizCafe: What do you guys find most thrilling about acting in general?
Christian Bale: Everybody dreams at nighttime and they tend to go a little insane and … to me it’s sort of like dreaming in an awake state because you get to study people and you get to go a little insane. You get to be obsessive about something and its expected, and the more that you are the better it is, and I find that very addictive.
Jennifer Lawrence: It’s a study of people, it’s kind of like all of these things that I’ve been doing since I was little that were useless in Kentucky like just watching people and studying them and being able to mimic their body language. Between action and cut it’s almost like meditating in a weird way because anything that you’re feeling [goes away]. If I’m cold, in between action and cut I’m not; or if I’m in physical pain in between action and cut I’m not, I’m in a completely different frame of mind and that’s a high.