Diane Haithman is contributing to Deadline’s Oscar coverage
With 10 nominations for American Hustle (including all the biggies — Picture, Director, all four acting categories and screenplay) David O. Russell described himself this morning as “exhilarated — sort of a little busy, and exhilarated.” Last year his Silver Linings Playbook received eight nominations, including all of these major categories with one exception: Adapted Screenplay rather than Original Screenplay. Russell, tired and recovering from a cough, called the back-to-back recognition “extraordinary. It’s just kind of a momentum that built from from Silver Linings to American Hustle. I don’t know if you could force it to ever happen again.”
And not to forget 2010’s multiple nominee The Fighter, which Russell includes in the trajectory. “I wrote Silver Linings before The Fighter but didn’t make it until after The Fighter. About American Hustle he said: “This story has been circling [for a long time]. This was a very special moment, you could feel it. This was going faster than we realized, but there was an excitement. It was something that took many years to take shape.”
Russell also hinted today about his next project: “I am writing an opus for a community that may involve many of these actors.”
Even with so many previous noms and awards, Russsell said he respects these nominations “enormously.” But in case they don’t come, he said he makes a habit of calling everyone involved the night before the announcements. “I say thank you — no matter what, we made this film and I’m so happy and grateful,” Russell said. “That’s the way I can go to sleep. That’s what we stand on when we wake up.”
In part, Russell credits the success of Hustle to actors “taking chances they never took before. You are saying: ‘I don’t know Amy this way, I don’t know Jennifer this way. ‘To me they were the most beautiful they have ever been, and the most ugly.” He added: “I think it’s a world of real East Coast, New York and New Jersey characters, their romance and their survival, from their desperation to their romantic lives. Their passoin their emotions, dreams and disasters. I have to give a range to my actors. That means I have to have a huge life and death predicament, a Picasso of a predicament, that has to keep moving and exploding sideways.”
Given the entertainment landscape, was it difficult not to veer into Jersey Shore-style stereotypes with the film’s characters? The pressure to remain authentic is “true of any motion picture,” Russell said. “Any motion picture is a great risk that can go terribly wrong. You have to keep that in mind every step of the way. You can never let your guard down. That’s the job. And if you don’t like it, get another job.”
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.