Jennifer Lawrence has many admirers, from the legions of “Hunger Games” and “X-Men” fans to critics to awards voters — the latter evidenced by her Oscar for “Silver Linings Playbook” and her recent New York Film Critics honor for supporting actress in the upcoming Abscam-inspired con story “American Hustle,” opening Dec. 13.
One of her biggest fans is David O. Russell, who directed her in both award-winning performances. At the Envelope Screening Series, Russell talked about casting Lawrence in “American Hustle” and how she helped pull off one of the film’s most electric scenes.
“She had three weeks off between ‘X-Men’ and ‘Hunger Games,’ and she was knackered from the whole ‘Silver Linings’ campaign,” Russell said. “And they work her hard in that ‘Hunger Games’ world. The girl is constantly working.”
While scouting locations for “Hustle,” Russell said, he couldn’t help reaching out to Lawrence about the role of Rosalyn Rosenfeld, the loose-cannon housewife of Christian Bale’s con man character.
“I said, ‘I think I would feel remiss if I didn’t at least tell her about this,’” Russell recalled.” “And as soon as I was halfway telling her about the thing, she was so excited to play a ‘Real Housewife of Long Island’ in 1978, and to be a genius in the way that that woman in Jennifer’s form would be a genius, and to be toxic in those ways — after being so virtuous in ‘Hunger Games’ — was enormously exciting to her.”
Russell also talked about a charged scene in which a confrontation between Lawrence and Amy Adams’ characters culminates in a kiss.
“Part of that was an idea that Amy Adams — feeling the electricity between her and Jennifer as opponents and lovers of the same man — said, ‘What if we kissed?’ And I said, ‘Well, that sounds awesome, but I don’t really … How would that happen?’ … And so I forgot about it, and then when I was hanging out with Jennifer on set, I said, ‘Oh, you know, Amy had this idea, this crazy idea.’ And she just goes, ‘Hmm,’ and she just thinks about it and forgot about it.”
Russell continued: “And then we’re shooting the scene, and we’re not going to do the kiss — we haven’t even talked about it because we all just think that’s just crazy, right? And then Jennifer suddenly says to me, ‘I’m going to do it as my final punctuation mark to this toxic conversation.’ And I said, ‘Oh, I never thought of that.’”
The scene went over like gangbusters — except perhaps for one person. Russell said, “That was something that we had to tell Jack Huston that day that he thought he was going to kiss Jennifer. … I said, ‘No, no, no, no. She already just kissed somebody. She can’t kiss you.’"
For more from the cast and crew of “American Hustle,” watch the full video above and check back for more highlights.