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‘American Hustle’ Cast Talks Funny Hairdos, Masks, Sexual Power & “That Kiss” Between Jennifer Lawrence & Amy Adams

The Playlist By Edward Davis | The Playlist December 11, 2013 at 3:24PM

“I was broke, I was fearless and ... I had nothing to lose,” Amy Adams' Sydney Prosser declares during the opening stages of "American Hustle" (our review), and it's something of a statement of intent for many of the characters in the film. While the advertising has promised a vivacious, entertaining, period-soaked caper movie—which David O. Russell's film certainly is—"American Hustle" is also a surprisingly rich character piece, one in which good people try to do the right, but in the wrong way, in a morally gray world.
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American Hustle

Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence kiss in the movie. It was Adams’ suggestion, but there was more to it than being lurid.
Jennifer really made that contribution. I came up with the idea, but she executed it that felt like a moment purely driven from character. It didn’t feel just like a moment where two girls are going to kiss on screen. It came from somewhere emotional. She killed it. And the laugh she gives after? C’mon, that was genius. I didn’t direct her, but I just thought, “what if she just plants one on her?” and [Jennifer] sold it in a brilliant way that it worked comedically and dramatically and it felt organic, never like it shouldn’t be there and that’s all due to her.

"I really thought of people who had an elegance with their sexuality and the power they had through their sexuality." - Amy Adams

David O. Russell: But the fact that [Jennifer’s character] falls apart immediately after in the arms of Jack Huston shows that she’s really been trying to front, after this very frightening encounter with her husband’s love, it’s really quite a show of vulnerability. That show of strength [was actually] one of these masks we all must wear at different points in our lives to protect ourselves to get through relationships, or jobs. That’s the question that fascinated Christian and I—the idea of a cynical con man isn’t that interesting to me as the idea of people with real hearts that are trying to do what everybody does: surviving, and adapting and deciding who they’re going to be.

Jennifer Lawrence on her soon-to-be iconic moment of singing Paul McCartney’s “Live And Let Die” in the movie.
[David] said he had a vision of Rosalyn wearing yellow cleaning gloves and running through the entire house singing, "Live and Let Die," she said. "I thought that sounded incredible, but [thought] 'How’s it going to make sense?' But she’s so angry and she’s at this point where she’s been lied to for so long and she's been left out of everything, and she’s getting to this point in this marriage that she’s been fighting for so long, that she’s been imprisoning this man for so many years in this marriage and she’s finally ready to let it die. So, I think that was this really great, crazy moment. I threw my neck out, actually.

Jennifer Lawrence on the high of acting.
[Acting for me], it’s a study of people and all of these things I’ve been doing since I was little that were always useless in Kentucky. Just watching people, studying them, and being able to mimic their body language and figure out a person, what kind of person you’re playing, how they move, and how they walk. But, between action and cut, it’s almost like meditating in a weird way because anything that you’re feeling, like if I’m cold between action and cut, I’m not; or if I’m in physical pain between action and cut, I’m not. I’m in a completely different frame of mind and it’s a high.

Christian Bale on acting being the waking dream
Everybody at night they dream and go a little insane because that’s acceptable, and to me [acting is] a little bit like dreaming in a waking state because you get to study people and get to be a little insane and be obsessive of something and its expected of you and the more that you are [in that state], the better it is and I find that very addictive.

What Golden-Age actress does Jennifer Lawrence remind David O. Russell of?
I immediately think of Carole Lombard with [Lawrence].

Bradley Cooper loved working with Louie C.K.
I’ve hit the jackpot I think with working with the two best comedians around: Zach Galifianakis and Louis C.K. He was unbelievable, and it was perfect casting. It was effortless and addictive, and we wanted more. We’ve become friends since, and we look back on those scenes with a lot of delight. It was Louis' idea to put that last thing in—their final exchange. We were laughing so hard on the day when we’re walking down the hall and they’re yelling at each other about the ice-fishing story. It had gotten to that point. He was wonderful.

American Hustle cast

Christian Bale thinks style is style and people the same, no matter what ridiculous fashion they’re wearing.
I gotta say though, I think it’s only over-the-top to us now looking back at the fashions in the era, because it was such a wonderfully exuberant era. It was like Halloween for a decade, and the colors were garish, and the style was just phenomenal for us to look back on. But the people themselves, we’re no different now.

David O. Russell says the “power of intention” scene revealed itself on set that day.
There were other scenes that were scripted that never felt right to me for their final scene, that, thank god, revealed itself as the right scene for these two to resolve things. [Jennifer’s character] is the Picasso of passive aggressive karate. There’s a genius in it that is soulful for [Christian’s character] to accept it while being confounded by it, to break up? If she does it its OK.

Another key moment of improv was Bradley Cooper’s character telling Amy Adams that he loved her.
David O. Russell: Every actor has athletic passion, and then they’re willing to move. And that’s exciting, we can move within that character. Bradley’s doing a scene amped up, and suddenly we huddle and say, “tell her you love her,” I don’t think we even told Amy we were going to do that. And in the scene, something chemically just changed in her and she kind of melted and suddenly she’s leaning forward to kiss him, which had not happened in any take and that’s because we collaborated and came up with that and it totally makes strong the moment she chooses to reveal herself.

Amy Adams on the sexuality of her character.
I was trained as a dancer, so it’s always part of how I storytell, through my body and through movement I find the character. One of the things that struck me— once I had the wardrobe and I knew she was going to be a sexual being—I really thought people who had an elegance with their sexuality and the power they had through their sexuality, so for me dancing was how I started to feel her. I thought about dancers who were in control because of the way they moved their bodies, so that’s what I started thinking about in the moment.

The way (or non-way) Christian Bale’s character danced).
We called [Christian’s character] “the badger” because he moved like a badger and when he took his glasses off he would blinking badger eyes in the the light of the day. And he danced beautifully as this man who sunk three inches into his spine and herniated a disc and became [the character] and the characters dancing across Park Avenue was a highlight of my life and playing the music as we were crossing the street was magical.

Christian Bale on the song “Delilah” [featured in the music].
You ever listen to the lyrics of that song? That’s a sick song. When you hear the lyrics you think, Tom Jones was sick. -- reporting by Rodrigo Perez

"American Hustle" opens on Friday, December 13th.

This article is related to: American Hustle, Christian Bale, Jennifer Lawrence, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, David O. Russell, Interviews, Interviews, Interview


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