Jennifer Lawrence Unveils 'Joy': "A Woman Across Four Generations"

Joy still Jennifer Lawrence - H 2015
Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

David O. Russell's new film, which will be released Dec. 25, stars the Oscar-winning actress as a divorced mom who becomes a successful entrepreneur.

David O. Russell’s Joy, one of the last of the year-end awards hopefuls still awaiting release, held its first screenings today in Los Angeles and New York. Loosely based on the life of Joy Mangano, the inventor and entrepreneur behind the Miracle Mop and a string of other household products, the film stars Jennifer Lawrence as the title character, a woman determined to forge her own way in life and business.

The film, which Fox will release Dec. 25, marks Lawrence’s third collaboration with Russell, following 2011’s Silver Linings Playbook, for which she won the best actress Oscar, and 2013’s American Hustle, for which she received a supporting actress nomination. She’s surrounded by several members of what’s becoming Russell’s ongoing acting company — Bradley Cooper plays a QVC exec who recognizes Joy’s potential, while Robert De Niro is on hand as her not-always-as-encouraging father. The cast also includes Diane Ladd as the grandmother who urges Joy to believe in herself, Virginia Madsen as her soap-opera addicted mom, Isabella Rossellini as a rich widow who takes up with Joy’s dad, Edgar Ramirez as Joy’s loyal ex-husband and Dascha Polanco as Joy’s best friend.

Appearing at a post-screening Q&A in New York that was also beamed to the Darryl F. Zanuck Theater on the Fox lot in Los Angeles, Russell said he made the film, which he wrote as well as directed, because “for me, it was my first film with a woman protagonist at the center.” He explained, “It’s the story of that woman’s journey from the time she’s 10 to the time she’s 43. I’d never done that [before]. And I’d also never gone into [a movie about a] more grounded, mature person, a more ordinary person who became extraordinary and was extraordinary from a young age. I got to do the magic of that young age, I got to do her nightmares, and I got to see what it was like how she handled success.”

As for Lawrence, she said of her interest in the project, “I got to play a woman across four generations, which is incredible for an actor.” As for reuniting with Russell, she turned to the director, seated beside her and said, “I’ll do anything with you until you die,” quickly adding with a laugh, “It’s sweet and f—ed up.”

For Hollywood insiders, the film has one further distinction: It name-checks former studio exec Barry Diller, who’s now chairman of IAC/InteractiveCorp. While Diller isn’t a character in the film, he’s referenced by Cooper’s character, who explains to Joy that the former Fox chairman has bought an interest in QVC, the shopping network where Joy Mangano first connected with an audience.

The movie’s QVC sequences also portray Joan Rivers, played in the film by her daughter, Melissa Rivers.