David O. Russell didn’t need to worry about the inspirational aspects of his new movie, “The Fighter,” the “Rocky”-like true story of how welterweight boxer Micky Ward overcame and, ultimately, embraced his family’s troubles and eccentricities on his road to redemption in the ring.
“It’s a great story with a great, built-in ending, which you can just naturally ride,” Russell says. “That enabled me to concentrate on the family. And once I met them, I just fell in love with these people. They’re just absolutely comfortable in who they are and what they’re about.”
While the movie primarily focuses on the relationship between Ward’s tumultuous and loving relationship with his half-brother Dicky Eklund (Christian Bale), Russell also wanted to emphasize Micky’s quest to bring together his tight-knit, big and boisterous family with the woman (Amy Adams) he loves.
“She’s a big part of Micky’s quest to separate himself from his family,” Russell says, “and that’s one thing I thought would be interesting to use. He needed her. But he needed his family, too. Can he reconcile both needs?”
Russell came on board “The Fighter” after Darren Aronofsky dropped out to pursue “Black Swan.” Wahlberg turned to Russell, whom he had worked with on “Three Kings” and “I Heart Huckabees.”
“The Fighter” represents an artistic rebirth for Russell, its bracing mix of heartbreak and humor generating the kind of reviews he hasn’t seen since making the Gulf War comedy-drama “Three Kings” in 1999. That movie is remembered as much for Russell’s much-publicized confrontation with star George Clooney as it is for its undeniable excellence.
With “The Fighter,” the only arguments and knockouts were in the ring.
“I just feel incredibly grateful and fortunate right now,” Russell says. “I couldn’t have had a better experience on the movie.”