Jennifer Lawrence, David O. Russell Banter at Variety Q&A

Bale, Adams, Cooper and Renner also screen 'American Hustle' at the Variety Screening Series

Amy Adams, Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley
Mike Coppola/Getty Images

Jennifer Lawrence received her second straight SAG nomination last week for playing Rosalyn in “American Hustle.” Turns out last year’s SAG Awards were a turning point for director David O. Russell in convincing Lawrence to take the role.

“David, you asked me during the SAG Awards when they were announcing my category,” Lawrence recounted at the Variety Screening Series Q&A of “American Hustle” Dec. 7 at New York’s AMC Lincoln Square.

“I’m literally sweating bullets at the SAG Awards. If you go back to the footage, you can probably see me doing this,” gesturing with her arm out, “while David’s trying to pitch me this movie,” Lawrence said. (Not-so-spoiler alert: she won that SAG Award for Best Actress in “Silver Linings Playbook.”)

Lawrence and Russell joined stars Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper and Jeremy Renner for the Q&A moderated by Variety‘s chief film critic Scott Foundas.

Russell shared his process of creating the characters, “from the feet up,” with the actors, starting initial conversations with Bale, Cooper and Adams. “Eric Singer wrote a script that was more procedural,” he said, “I was very interested in the characters’ point of view, of reinvention and a larger idea of surviving.”

Bale modeled the physicality of his antihero character of Irving Rosenfeld very loosely on a photo of Mel Weinberg, the con artist who helped the FBI with the Abscam operation. “He had this comb-over, he was rather rotund and his clothes didn’t necessarily fit him perfectly. It was so not cliche. There’s gotta be this rolling momentum to him, and there’s a great charm to him as well,” Bale said.

Lawrence shared about the memorable “Live and Let Die” scene that came straight from Russell’s head. “He had this vision of me, of Rosalyn, just dancing through the house with the yellow cleaning gloves on,” she said. “We actually had to tailor the movie around it, to make it make sense,” she said. “Sometimes David has these brilliant visions and ideas and sense has to come later.”

Cooper agreed, saying, “David created all these characters with all of us, and then wrote the script. It was a very collaborative experience.”

With the exception of Renner, all of the main stars have worked with Russell on “The Fighter” and “Silver Linings Playbook,” including cameo player Robert De Niro.

“Is this your team now?” Foundas asked.

“You take it one role at a time and one idea at a time,” Russell responded, perhaps hedging a bit. When Lawrence protested, Russell joked, “All of them except for Jennifer, I would say.”