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David O. Russell, Bradley Cooper & Jennifer Lawrence Talk 'Midnight Meat Train,' Dancing & More In 'Silver Linings Playbook'

The Playlist By Jen Vineyard | The Playlist November 15, 2012 at 10:04AM

"Silver Linings Playbook" is one of those rare films that embraces all of life's messy contradictions. It's romantic, but not schmaltzy. It's about sports fans -- the really obsessive ones -- but it's also for non-sports fans who've never watched a football game (or would never want to). It's about mental illness, but without turning anyone living with or recovering from one into a caricature, contrasting bipolarity with so-called normal obsessive emotional states, without compromising what any of them really are. Writer/director David O. Russell achieves a tricky balancing act, thanks to the performances of his cast (Bradley Cooper as a bipolar man with anger management issues fresh out of a mental institution, Jennifer Lawrence as a recovering sex addict, and Robert De Niro as an obsessive-compulsive and superstitious gambler, also with anger management issues).

Bradley Cooper Silver Linings Playbook
2) Bradley Cooper is from the area they used for the film.
At first, Cooper didn't think he could handle the role of Pat Solitano, a part originally considered for frequent Russell collaborator Mark Wahlberg, but De Niro convinced him that he could -- because he knew where Pat came from. "Truth be told, he really did champion me for the role," Cooper said. "I confided in him early on that I didn't know if I could do it, and he said, 'You're from Philly. You're going to be fine.' "

Philadelphia -- and its surrounding suburbs of Jenkintown, Drexel Hill, and Ridley Park -- are more than just a location for 'Silver Linings.' "Upper Darby, Ridley Park, these are very specific neighborhoods that have a particular feeling," Russell said. "The language that Jacki Weaver [who plays the mother] uses, like 'homemades' [for made-from-scratch pasta], we heard that right on the block we shot on, and I had never heard that before."

"What David cares about is telling an authentic story about a specific group of people, on a specific block, in a specific house," Cooper said.

Philly natives will recognize the Llanerch Diner on the Havertown/Upper Darby township line, where Cooper and Lawrence have a Halloween "date." This and other locations were places Cooper knew, having grown up right across from the Baederwood Shopping Center. Plus, Cooper had an Italian/Irish home, just like his character -- who wears an art deco face of Christ on a necklace just like the one Cooper's grandfather used to wear.

"It's a warm feeling, to go 'I know these people,' " Russell said. "It pervades the whole thing."

Silver Linings Playbook Bradley Cooper Jennifer Lawrence
3) Bradley Cooper is probably a better dancer than his character -- unless he's delusional.
Lawrence's character Tiffany ropes Cooper's Pat into being her dance partner for a local competition, which meant a lot of rehearsal time for both the characters on screen and the actors off. Aided by choreographer Mandy Moore (not the actress!) -- a vet of "Dancing with the Stars" and "So You Think You Can Dance" -- the actors studied moves made famous by Gene Kelly in "Singin' in the Rain," the lindy hop in "Hellzapoppin'," and presumably "Dirty Dancing" to replicate that movie's infamous lift.

"The dance is amazing, but my dancing isn't," Lawrence laughed. "I'm a terrible dancer. I needed a week and a half to learn it."

Cooper got less time in rehearsals because of his shooting schedule, but he said it was okay, since his character is supposed to be the lesser skilled of the two. "I actually love to dance," he said, "but I can't tell if I'm one of those delusional people who love to dance but aren't any good."

The first time Cooper and Lawrence met, he said, was in the dance studio, "and the next thing you know, I'm sweating, and she has her hands under my armpits. Very embarrassing!"

To shoot the dance competition itself, he noted, took three days, 16 hours a day. "I felt bad that Bob and Chris [Tucker] had to come and watch!" Cooper said. "But the dance really reflects Pat and Tiffany's relationship in many ways. It has a bipolar aspect to it when you get to the end of the movie."

This article is related to: The Silver Linings Playbook, David O. Russell, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro

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