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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).

Midnight Meat Train Bradley Cooper
4) David O. Russell put in a shout-out to Bradley Cooper's horror movie as an Easter Egg.
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.

Bradley Cooper Silver Linings Playbook
5) Bradley Cooper steals from David O. Russell and will continue to do so -- as a director in his own right.
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.

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

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