We had the opportunity to chat with David O. Russell about “The Fighter” recently (more from that conversation soon), but during our discussion with the director, we had to ask what had he been up to since “I Heart Huckabees” hit theaters in 2004.
“It was a very productive time for me in the last couple of years,” Russell said. “I wrote a lot of things by necessity, you know, and I wrote some scripts that I really quite like. They didn’t come together yet, but they will come together I think. There’s a bunch of them.” But of course, as any fan of the director knows, he did work on another film in between, the unfinished comedy “Nailed.”
Starring Jessica Biel, Jake Gyllenhaal, Catherine Keener, Tracy Morgan and James Marsden, the Kristin Gore-scripted pic starred Biel as a socially awkward and uninsured waitress who accidentally gets shot in the head with a nail. She goes to Washington on a crusade to fight for the rights of the bizarrely injured and meets an immoral congressman played by Gyllenhaal who takes advantage of her sexually and politically. We read the script — and it’s a sharp one that sort of plays like a live-action episode of “The Simpsons” from the show’s golden era (see: “Lisa Goes To Washington” for a feel on the tone) — and with the strong cast in place, we had high hopes. Unfortunately, the film ran into numerous financial issues and eventually was shut down with only one day of filming left to complete it. Earlier this summer, Russell said that he couldn’t reach an agreement with the picture’s new owner, Ron Tutor, to finish it but we wondered if there was any chance at all he might circle back and get it in the can.
“I think you kinda keep going and stay with the forward moment,” Russell said, “That’s kinda what you have to do. So that’s what I’m doing.”
But even though he won’t get a chance to finish it and has washed his hands of the project, it does seem like what he did manage to capture, throughout all the financial issues and production stoppages, was something interesting. “There was a lot that was going on that I liked, but it was kinda a stillbirth, you know? So when that happens, the whole thing gets kinda weird.”
Thankfully, Russell didn’t face any of those issues shooting “The Fighter” and the film, which will be expanding into more theaters this weekend, is one of the more electric boxing films to hit screens in a while and is definitely worth tracking down.