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Berlinale ‘Hustle’: 10 Things David O. Russell, Christian Bale and Bradley Cooper Shared In Berlin

Berlinale 'Hustle': 10 Things David O. Russell, Christian Bale and Bradley Cooper Shared In Berlin

David O. Russell’s “American Hustle” is already a massive hit in America, with box office and Oscar nominations both pouring in. But it made its German debut at the Berlin International Film Festival Friday night, which is actually the first (and likely only) film festival “American” hustled its way to. Which gave its director and stars an opportunity to offer thoughts on the film — and a lot of other things — at the film’s Berlinale press conference. Here’s some highlights:

David O. Russell when a German journalist asks him “how he made Christian Bale and Jennifer Lawrence win Oscars”: “I appreciate that you speak English and I apologize for not speaking German. I think German’s a very beautiful language and I wish I spoke it.  But we would never say that I made these guys win anything. I would say that it was my privilege to aspire and to create a predicament that is twisted and human and allows them to have roles that will show as much behavior and emotion as possible. That’s my goal. I want to deliver that to them. It’s my job. To create a role that is vast and complicated and emotional…”

Bradley Cooper, meanwhile, when asked how he learned to speak French: “I was fortunate enough in college to study my junior Spring semester in the south of France. I went to school there and took courses in French. I just sort of kept it.”

Christian Bale on his character’s epic combover: “For me it was so unexpected to see this con artist having such an unconvincing con on his head. And that he was so brilliant at what he did but so terrible at what he did on top of his head. There was a great juxtaposition in it. It became a very vital thing to add to it. And very charming as well. Generally people think of con men being very slick and maybe vain and certainly very smooth operators. We didn’t want to make Irv that.”

David O. Russell on how Robert DeNiro didn’t recognize Christian Bale on the set of “American Hustle”: “[Robert
DeNiro] said ‘who’s that guy?’ I said you just shook his hand, it’s
Christian Bale. And he said ‘no, the fat guy.’ And I said ‘that’s
Christian Bale! That guy.’ And he said ‘wow, he looks really different.’
Which is a big compliment from Bob. Who went over and properly
introduced himself, because the first time went Bradley Cooper, Amy
Adams, fat guy, Jennifer Lawrence..”

Christian Bale how David O. Russell likes to hide places on set: “One of the funniest things for me on set was watching where David was going to hide. He always likes to be very close to the actors. He likes to be able to feel the atmosphere of the scene. So literally he’d be trying to hide under our chairs and the DP would be ‘no David, I see you there.’ And then he’d be jumping over a table somewhere and finding a spot where he could be very close and get a sense of being right there with us.

David O. Russell on how Jennifer Lawrence’s character was originally intended to die:  “Jennifer Lawrence’s character at one point was going to have a much darker demise. She was going to hang herself. I thought, ‘that’s great, that’s really dark and heavy.’ And so the stunt department would come in and ask where the rope and the hook were going to go. ‘Is the rope going to go here or over the dining room table. We gotta hang the rope?’ And then all of a sudden it just didn’t feel right.”

Bradley Cooper on working with Jennifer Lawrence: David and I
both had the opportunity to work with Jennifer on “Silver Linings
Playbook.” And we were sort of amazed at this creature’s ability to be a
sort of young girl and this sort of wise older person at the same time.
She has an effortless way of being on set and in the scene. Talent
drips off of her. It was a very easy way of working.

David O. Russell on how Darren Aronofsky helped him get his head out of his ass: “I personally have had two phases of my filmmaking career. I was here with ‘Three Kings’ in 1999 and then I decided ‘let’s make a metaphysical film.’ Which did okay. It didn’t succeed like I wanted it to. And then I met Darren Aronofsky after he made ‘The Wrestler.’ I said ‘what happened, you’re doing so good.’ He said ‘I got my head out of my ass.’ And that can happen to anybody. Your head can go up your ass because you’re afraid of failure or there’s pressure the more movies you make. So I kind of lost my way as a storyteller.”

Christian Bale on Russell’s recent work: “I think the thing that
resonates so much for me with what David has been telling stories about
recently is just the fact that the things that feel like disasters in
your life, don’t turn out to be disasters. That life throws you many
curve balls. The things that seem like gifts, can turn out to be disastrous. And never to be surprised at how surprised you can be at life.”

David O. Russell on the acting atmosphere on the set: 
“It’s like doing drugs. [Christian Bale has] described it like a waking
dream. That’s why I don’t like to call ‘cut.’ Because once we get
going, it’s like you’re in a dream. Or Jennifer has described it as like
being high. And I don’t want to interrupt that. Something is happening
where everybody is over in that other world.”

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