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'American Hustle' brings together frequent David O. Russell collaborators for a '70s story

'American Hustle' stars Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Jennifer Lawrence, and Bradley Cooper.

By Staff writer / December 26, 2013

'American Hustle' stars Bradley Cooper (l.) and Christian Bale (r.).

Francois Duhamel/Sony – Columbia Pictures/AP

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Actors Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence reunite with “Silver Linings Playbook” director David O. Russell for Russell’s newest film, “American Hustle.”

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Staff writer

Molly Driscoll is a Books and the Culture staff writer.

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“Hustle,” which entered wide release Dec. 20, stars Christian Bale as scammer Irving Rosenfeld, actress Amy Adams as Sydney Prosser, his partner-in-crime and lover, and Lawrence as Irving’s unpredictable wife. When FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Cooper) catches Irving and Sydney at their crimes, he enlists them to help take down a group of politicians who aren’t on the up-and-up.

The story is based on the ABSCAM operation, which was launched in the 1970s, and the movie also co-stars actors Jeremy Renner, Robert De Niro, and Jack Huston.

Many are pointing to the movie as a possible awards season darling and “Hustle” has already received nods from the Screen Actors Guild Awards, which are often a signal for what may win big at awards ceremonies later in the year like the Oscars. The movie received a nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture (the SAG equivalent of Best Picture) and Lawrence received a nomination for Best Supporting Actress. 

Russell, who was also behind such films as the 2010 movie “The Fighter” and 2002’s “Adaptation,” spoke with Indiewire about working with actors more than once (Bale and Adams worked with the director in “The Fighter” and De Niro starred in “Playbook”). 

“They're great collaborators,” he said of the group. “I write the roles while I'm in deep conversations with them at their homes or on the phone. It inspires me to write for them and to want to deliver a role that's worthy of them and to let them use every range of their behaviors in new ways that will surprise them and audiences.”

Meanwhile, Adams contrasted her character, Sydney, with happier roles she’s had in the past in movies like “The Muppets” and “Enchanted.”

“[Sydney] is the most miserable human being I’ve ever played,” she said in an interview with the New York Times. “She is not happy. I’m used to playing people that, even if they’re survivors, there’s some sort of light in them. I don’t know that she has that, necessarily. I think I like playing happy people.”

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