“De Niro is extremely meticulous when he’s really passionate about something and we had endless conversations,” director David O. Russell said last fall at a press conference for “American Hustle.” “He loved the fact that this man [Victor Tellegio] spoke Arabic—which happens to be one of the true things in the story. Truth is crazier than fiction, but there was a mobster who spoke Arabic… He was really into meticulously constructing this guy. He wanted to do something he’d never done before.” And the result is one of the most memorable moments in the film.
With ten Oscar nominations under its belt, Russell’s film is a sprawling tale of romance and cons, but it’s built on numerous, note-perfect scenes as everyone tries to stay one step ahead of each other. And in this exclusive clip, an attempt to snare Robert De Niro‘s mobster in an FBI sting gets upended when he challenges the fake sheik at the table to lure him into an illegal scheme, by revealing he knows how to speak Arabic. It’s a sly and very amusing twist in a film filled with an array of quick turns and switchups.
“American Hustle” is still in theaters nationwide. If you haven’t seen it, be sure to track it down before Oscar night.