When Pat and Tiffany have an argument near a movie theater on Halloween, astute viewers will notice the partially obscured marquee reads "Midnight M--- Train." That's for "Midnight Meat Train," a 2008 horror movie Cooper did in which his character follows the trail of some mysterious murders aboard a late-night subway car, adapted from the Clive Barker story. "It's one of his most distinguished works," Russell teased Cooper.
When asked who suggested slipping the cult classic into 'Silver Linings,' Cooper pointed enthusiastically to Russell. "I remember when David asked, 'What do you want the movie to be on the marquee?' And I didn't even know if he was joking or not, but he said, 'What about "Midnight Meat Train'?' " Cooper recalled. "And then I show up on set and there it is, with the posters in the entranceway to the theater, too! It was fantastic. You can just almost see it."
Just in case anyone's planning to run out and rent the film now, Cooper has made it a little difficult for folks to see his work. "I own all the copies," he joked.
Based on their interactions on set, De Niro predicts that Cooper has a director's gene just waiting to express itself. "This guy is probably going to be a director," he said proudly. He could be right -- Cooper said he watched Russell with an eye to learn.
"What I learned from David is not one thing," Cooper said. "I mean, I could run down a list of twenty things just practically speaking that he taught me about the way he looks at shooting a movie. I don't know if I can give away his secrets, but there are very practical things that I will steal completely that are just so true. As a matter of fact, in the two movies I've done since this, I've gone up to the directors and said, 'Maybe we should just put the camera here.' "
Some of the other tips that Cooper picked up, he said, were about keeping a room lit so you can shoot it at any time, and so the camera can go on either actor, depending on what you want to do. "It makes it very exhilarating for an actor," he said. "It's almost like theater. It's intoxicating." Also, make sure you do one last take in which the actors get free reign, "which will drum up moments that hadn't happened before," he said.
One such take happened on 'Silver Linings,' in which De Niro cried, despite the emotional moment not being in the script. Russell, who was behind him and couldn't see the tear, recalled asking, "What's happening? Is he trying to remember his lines? He didn't tell anybody he was going to do that. It just happened on that last take, and to see Mr. De Niro cry surprised us all."
"Silver Linings Playbook" opens in limited release on November 16th and will roll out across the country in the next few weeks.