SAG Awards Voters Get First Look at ‘American Hustle’ Muscle

Sony hosts its first public screening with Q&A featuring film's director, stars

Jennifer Lawrence American Hustle

Sony held its first public screening Sunday of “American Hustle,” for an audience consisting largely of SAG Awards nominating-committee members — an appropriate move, since David O. Russell clearly loves actors and the feeling is mutual. Reviews are embargoed for another week, but suffice it to say: Big thumbs up.

SAG ballots went in the mail a few days ago, so the film’s timing is good. At a Q&A following the screening at the Cary Grant Theatre on the Sony lot, much of the talk centered around the performances and the director’s work with the cast, most of whom he’d worked with before.

Russell was asked what drew him to the script and he said, “I got very excited about these actors playing these roles.”

He added, “I feel all my work was leading to these three films,” referring to “The Fighter,” last year’s “Silver Linings Playbook” and now “Hustle.” All of them includes themes he likes in a script, such as romance and reinvention.

Amy Adams praised Russell for “going against type” in his casting. Asked about improvising on the set, she said Russell is so spontaneous, “You have to be lubricated…wait, that sounds wrong. I meant like an engine!”

Adams praised Christian Bale, too. “He is such a hero to me….He’s such a rock.” And she praised Jennifer Lawrence as “fearless and so much fun to work with,” while Bradley Cooper has “tireless positivity” — and is a good dancer.

One of the film’s editors, Jay Cassidy, also praised Cooper, who spent time in the editing room and always was generous in his suggestions about other actors. And Russell said that the character played by Jeremy Renner was “the heart that’s under the whole thing.”

The panel also included Renner, actress Elisabeth Rohm, casting director Mary Vernieu and costume designer Michael Wilkinson. He and Adams said their next project is the Superman-Batman movie, but politely declined to divulge any details. Adams said she still hasn’t read a script for it.

Russell did a pretty respectable Bob Hoskins impression. The actor had told Bale, “Acting: It’s not from the ears up, it’s from the feet up.” That “from the feet up” became the motto of Bale’s character in the film.

The Q&A was conducted by Variety’s very own Jenelle Riley.