David O. Russell for ‘Silver Linings Playbook’

Eye on the Oscars: The Director

There are no silver linings without dark clouds. Balancing the two proved writer-director Russell’s consistent challenge in a story centered around a bipolar protagonist. The mandate was “to make sure all of the characters in the story were coming from a real emotional place, including the comedy,” he says. To help his actors “feel the heartbeat,” Russell shared stories about his son’s battle with bipolar disorder. “Fortunately, Mr. De Niro also had personal experiences like that, so we were able to set the tone for everybody.”

Still, finding the right tone for the main character was tough. “Bradley Cooper really let himself go in the role, and there were times when he reminded me how far Christian Bale could go in ‘The Fighter,’ when he became extremely intense and dark — a little too ‘Aspergey.’ That was important for us to explore, because when the actor has lived that, the character has lived that,” the director says. “But it was also important for us to pull back. We quickly understood that a little of that goes a long way.”

Co-star Jennifer Lawrence was a major contributor to equilibrium. “Her chemistry with Bradley very quickly established a footprint for both of them. As we were finding the balance, Jennifer arrived, and her natural frankness and intensity were locked in on the very frame that we had been zeroing in on.” Her first scene, an outdoor run in which she returns a letter to Cooper’s character, was “a very striking day for both Bradley and me. It all just fell into the right pitch.”

More Film

  • Sony's Tony Vinciquerra: Disney-Fox 'Creates Opportunities'

    Sony's Tony Vinciquerra: Disney-Fox 'Creates Opportunities'

    There are no silver linings without dark clouds. Balancing the two proved writer-director Russell’s consistent challenge in a story centered around a bipolar protagonist. The mandate was “to make sure all of the characters in the story were coming from a real emotional place, including the comedy,” he says. To help his actors “feel the […]

  • The Disney, Fox Deal Just Set

    The Disney, Fox Deal Just Set Off a Studio Arms Race

    There are no silver linings without dark clouds. Balancing the two proved writer-director Russell’s consistent challenge in a story centered around a bipolar protagonist. The mandate was “to make sure all of the characters in the story were coming from a real emotional place, including the comedy,” he says. To help his actors “feel the […]

  • What Disney Bought in the Fox

    What Disney Bought: A Billion-Dollar Breakdown of Assets

    There are no silver linings without dark clouds. Balancing the two proved writer-director Russell’s consistent challenge in a story centered around a bipolar protagonist. The mandate was “to make sure all of the characters in the story were coming from a real emotional place, including the comedy,” he says. To help his actors “feel the […]

  • Actor Dustin Hoffman poses for photographers

    Dustin Hoffman Accused of Exposing Himself to a Minor, Assaulting Two Women (EXCLUSIVE)

    There are no silver linings without dark clouds. Balancing the two proved writer-director Russell’s consistent challenge in a story centered around a bipolar protagonist. The mandate was “to make sure all of the characters in the story were coming from a real emotional place, including the comedy,” he says. To help his actors “feel the […]

  • James Lachlan and Rupert Murdoch

    Disney Chief Bob Iger, Murdochs Reassure Employees, Tout Historic Deal

    There are no silver linings without dark clouds. Balancing the two proved writer-director Russell’s consistent challenge in a story centered around a bipolar protagonist. The mandate was “to make sure all of the characters in the story were coming from a real emotional place, including the comedy,” he says. To help his actors “feel the […]

  • Sony Pictures Int’l Prods. Boards Pablo

    Sony Pictures Int’l Prods. Boards Pablo Trapero’s ‘La Quietud’

    There are no silver linings without dark clouds. Balancing the two proved writer-director Russell’s consistent challenge in a story centered around a bipolar protagonist. The mandate was “to make sure all of the characters in the story were coming from a real emotional place, including the comedy,” he says. To help his actors “feel the […]

  • 48 Hours Remake

    '48 Hours' Remake in Development at Paramount With 'Good Time' Team

    There are no silver linings without dark clouds. Balancing the two proved writer-director Russell’s consistent challenge in a story centered around a bipolar protagonist. The mandate was “to make sure all of the characters in the story were coming from a real emotional place, including the comedy,” he says. To help his actors “feel the […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content