David O. Russell’s screwball comedy “Silver Linings Playbook” seamlessly shifts between moods and tones as it tells the story of a bipolar man’s relationship with his family and Tiffany, the lovely neighbor who unsettles and inspires him.
Negotiating these tonal shifts and making them feel real was a tall order for Russell, particularly in the film’s climactic dance competition scene that showcases its two stars, Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. Russell wanted to put across a sense of exuberance and fun, but retain a certain soulful, amateurish charm as well.
In this excerpt from the Envelope Screening Series, Russell and Cooper talk about getting the moves right for the sequence.
“Neither one of them was squeamish about the dancing,” Russell says. “So if neither actor is squeamish about the dancing, that means you remove one obstacle. I’m squeamish about dancing, especially on camera. These guys had never danced on camera before and they were not squeamish about it. They embraced it. And they got to know each other ... by rehearsing every day for two weeks before we started shooting. I saw them go from zero to 60 in those two weeks.”
Adds Cooper: “Jennifer Lawrence worked so hard. Besides being incredible in the movie, she also had the lion’s share of the dance. Every moment when she wasn’t on set being Tiffany, she was in that dance studio.”