It’s taken a little while to come together —he’d been a little bit busy with a thing called awards season earlier this year— but David O. Russell and Sony Legacy Records are finally realizing the “American Hustle” soundtrack on vinyl. The label is doing the release up in the pimped-out manner for which it is known: two colored LPs with lavish packaging and six songs not included on the original release (choice cuts by Steely Dan and Todd Rundgren, to name a few). The album will be released on record store day in late November, and part of the reason it took so long to come together is that the “American Hustle” director barely took a break after the Oscars in February.
While he didn’t have back to back movies to make and promote —“Silver Linings Playbook” into “American Hustle” left for little breathing room between mid 2011 and early 2014—Russell went straight back into screenwriting. In fact, the filmmaker told the Playlist in a lengthy interview (the full interview will be posted shortly) he wrote “several screenplays which I plan to direct” in the last few months, not least of which is “Joy,” with tells the story of Miracle Mop inventor Joy Mangano, who also struggled as a single mother of three kids before she made it big.
Russell is building a repertory company of actors he does repeat business with, and “Joy” is no different. It’s set to star the core trio from “Silver Linings Playbook”: Jennifer Lawrence is playing the lead role, Robert De Niro is in talks to play her father and Russell says he’s writing a role for Bradley Cooper (“I hope so,” he said optimistically but cautiously about the latter’s involvement).
“It’s very exciting,” Russell said. “It’s a blessing because I can write for them. I can talk to them about the parts. And I can aspire to be worthy of them.”
But the key element on Russell’s mind for “Joy” and moving forward is change. “We can aspire to be worthy of not repeating ourselves in any fashion. To do things that haven’t been seen —that’s what we have to aspire to.” Indeed, the second half of Russell’s career has been about casting against type. The five leads of “American Hustle” —Christian Bale, Cooper, Jeremy Renner, Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence— could have easily mixed and matched their respective gender roles, but Russell carefully chose each to keep himself and the audience surprised, an approach he hopes to continue in “Joy.”
“I think it creates something that is its own animal that exists on its own,” Russell explained about his casting methodology. “It gives you special pleasures when you find it, like a piece of music that speaks to you because it’s so specific.”
Russell was cagey about talking specifics about the movie, saying he didn’t want to jinx himself (“I don’t want to give away my playbook! That’s just bad luck”), but was somewhat less reluctant to talk about it in the abstract and again stressed how he’s hoping to flip his own script. “It’s set and the ‘80s and ‘90s, but I’m going to take a different approach musically than I’ve ever taken before,” he continues. “I aspire to make an unexpected movie, both for myself and for Jennifer. It’s about a woman… what’s inside her.”
But what about those asking “how is a story about the woman who invented the Miracle Mop a movie?” This question seemed to challenge Russell, so he opened up a little more. “If you go inside someone, it’s another story. If you go inside her and the people around her, and if you go into a different key of storytelling that feels… It’s a departure,” he said hesitantly. “It’s taking risks that we haven’t taken before. This is going to be a very intense emotional and existential look at a woman’s heart and soul as she becomes powerful.”
“It’s going to be quite different,” he added, with a smile.
“Joy” is currently scheduled for Christmas 2015 and will surely be another big contender next award season. The movie shoots early next year, and we’ll likely hear some more casting news in the upcoming weeks. More from this interview soon.