January 21, 2014 11:44am PT by Scott Feinberg
'American Hustle' Stars on Accents, Music and the Catfight-Turned-Makeout Scene (Video)
I recently sat down with several of the key players behind the best picture Oscar nominee American Hustle -- co-writer/director David O. Russell, lead actress Amy Adams, supporting actor Bradley Cooper and supporting actress Jennifer Lawrence, all of whom also received individual Oscar noms for the film -- to discuss its making and meaning.
As you can see in the videos at the top and bottom of this post and/or read below, we touched on a wide variety of topics over the course of about a half-hour -- from the similarities between actors and con men like the ones Christian Bale and Adams play in the film, to Adams' British and Lawrence's Jersey accents in the film, to the role of music in all of Russell's films, to Cooper's hilarious scenes with Louis C.K. to Adams and Lawrence's much-discussed confrontation-turned-makeout scene.
Aren't actors just pretending to be people they aren't, like con men, I asked? After initially suggesting that the two were quite different, Lawrence eventually laughed as she came around to the conclusion that "Yes, we are like con men" -- but Adams emphasized, "By the time you're playing the character, you're telling the truth -- you're telling the character's truth."
Adam's British accent had to be convincing or audiences wouldn't have believed that she could con so many people, and that Lawrence's Jersey accent was central to her character, too. "I'm from Kentucky," Lawrence said, "so obviously my stab at it is not gonna be exactly right. So we had a dialect coach come and help with some of the things that I didn't watch from just watching JerseyShore. And then on set it got really hard cause we were shooting in Boston, so sometimes I'd slip into a Boston accent just from hearing it."
Russell, meanwhile, acknowledged that music has played a key role in the plots of -- and inspiration for -- his earlier films, including The Fighter (2010) and Silver Linings Playbook (2012), and Hustle. "There's a lot of love in the movies," he said. "I don't want to make a movie without love. I will take darkness and put it in there, because that's part of life -- life can be just horrifyingly dark -- but I love the magic that gets people through it. And a lot of that is music." He added, "I like picking music that hasn't been used... and I like to use it in a way that shocks people," -- and then imitated the Bee Gees.
Cooper said he wasn't intimidated by his scenes with the comedy master C.K., which are interspersed throughout the film and always provoke audience laughter, but looked forward to them because he admires C.K. so much. Russell then noted that C.K. told "the actual written ending of the ice fishing story [that his character repeatedly tries to tell in the film] on the Leno show last week, much to my shock." Russell said it was originally revealed in the film's ending, but he decided to cut it and had no major objection to C.K. revealing it.
And Adams and Lawrence addressed the bathroom scene involving the two of them that catches many by surprise. "That's just a good catfight," Adams said. "You need one in every film." Lawrence laughed, "It was your idea!" Adams then complimented her, "I would like to say right here that this girl -- this woman, sorry, I always say girl -- this woman is amazing and so much fun to work with. I had such a blast. And so rarely do women get to work together in that kind of intimacy and chaos that we got to in that moment, and it was so much fun. I know a lot's been focused on the ending, but there was so much that we shot that you didn't see, and you were so much fun to play off, so it's good to get to thank you instead of just talk about your soft lips."
Lawrence thanked her and noted, "Soaking wet with lip gloss!" Adams then confessed that after the first of the two takes, she heard Lawrence laughing, looked in a mirror and discovered that she had lip gloss smeared all over her mouth. "It looked like you really got alpha'd," Lawrence cracked, to which Adams responded, "I did! Well, I think the only thing I could have done at that point that would have topped you is killed you, and that wasn't gonna happen."