David O. Russell to Receive Italian-American Icon Award

On Courting Christian Bale for 'American Hustle'
Austin Hargrave

Over and over, he would drive to Bale's house and discuss real-life conman Mel Weinberg, soon renamed Irving Rosenfeld. "He's like, 'Why are we talking about this? Why is this worth my time? I'm not planning to work this year,' " remembers Russell. "So I start to tell him about it. And pretty soon, he's saying, 'Oh, so he's not a handsome guy, but he's a family guy? He's not Mr. Cold Gangster, [but he's] trapped with a woman whom he can't seem to get around?' " Bale quickly suggested Rosenfeld be overweight -- and later herniated a disc after adding 40 pounds for the role. ("He's still dealing with that," says Russell.)

Capri, Hollywood will honor the Academy Award-nominated director

Capri, Hollywood International Film Festival took advantage of Columbus Day to announce the recipient of its 2014 Italian-American Icon Award. David O. Russell will be feted at the upcoming edition of the festival. The New York-born director is of Lucanian origin on his mother's side. Last year, the festival presented him with the Capri Master of Cinematic Art in Rome, and screened American Hustle at the festival, which takes place annually in Capri over New Year's Eve. 

The director's father Bernard Russell, who speaks Italian, will join him at the ceremony. ''David O. Russell’s grandparents, Frank Muzio and Philomena Brancata came from Craco and Ferrandina, in the province of Matera, a place often visited by his Russian-Jewish father, Bernard," said the festival's director Pascal Vicedomini.

“Russell has often said he owes so much to his Italian heritage in terms of creativity, and has always been a friend of our festival," said Vicedomini. "Now this incredible director and scholar will be with us in Capri, and Italy will have the opportunity to welcome and appreciate his works."

The last three films Russell director have been nominated for three consecutive Academy Awards for Best Director: The Fighter (2010), Silver Linings Playbook (2012), and American Hustle (2013). His next project Joy will showcase Jennifer Lawrence as a struggling Long Island single mother who becomes an unlikely entrepreneur after inventing the self-wringing Miracle Mop. The director's third collaboration with Lawrence will be released Christmas 2015 by Fox.

Read more Hollywood Salaries Revealed, From Movie Stars to Agents (and Even Their Assistants)

Twitter: @Aristonla