Five Interesting Facts About "American Hustle"

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The story of a con artist and his partner in crime, who were forced to work with a federal agent to turn the tables on other cons, mobsters, and politicians - namely, the volatile mayor of impoverished Camden, New Jersey.
Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures
December 17th, 2013

Five Interesting Facts About "American Hustle"

"American Hustle" is a 2013 crime drama about Irving Rosenfeld, one of the most notorious con men in the world. Irving and his gorgeous partner, Sydney, have taken the upper crust of New Jersey by storm with their uncanny intelligence and charm. When an unorthodox FBI agent named Richie DiMaso forces them to help him infiltrate the ranks of New Jersey's toughest mafia bosses, they find themselves drawn into a web of corruption and lies beyond the scope of anything they have handled before.

Getting into Character

Christian Bale is a method actor known for his dedication to roles and his willingness to do anything to get into character. In "American Psycho," he slimmed down to skeletal proportions in order to fit the role of the film's creepy main character. In "American Hustle," Bale reports gaining over forty pounds to fill his role as Irving Rosenfeld. He also took on an entirely different posture, slouching like Irving is prone to do. Because of the drastic increase in his weight in combination with his poor posture, Bale actually received medical care for two herniated disks during the filming of the movie. The pain was all worth it, since "American Hustle" promises to be one of the most popular crime films in recent years and a unique departure from the actor's usual roles as a svelte action hero.

Character Development

Director David O. Russell may have plenty of well-written films under his belt, but his creative secret is far more unorthodox than most would ever imagine. Christian Bale reports a conversation with the director about the ad-libbing and improvisation used throughout the film in which Russell acknowledged that he didn't really care if it changed the plot. Russell is a purely character-driven director who focuses on making his characters as real as possible and then turning them loose to change the direction of the film. This will prove to be an interesting directorial style in the context of a drama, considering that the genre is known for being intricately structured and often formulaic. Thanks to Russell's laid-back style, fans can look forward to a film that is nearly unscripted and features genuine character reactions and interactions.

A Role of Her Own

David O. Russell admits that he wrote the character of Rosalyn Rosenfeld with Jennifer Lawrence in mind. The director was so taken with the young star of "The Hunger Games" that he decided to create a role in his film just for her. Lawrence may be relatively new to the Hollywood scene, but her whirlwind resume in recent years proves her versatility and her ability to handle any role. Lawrence was the star in Russell's 2012 film "Silver Linings Playbook," in which she portrayed a mysterious young woman with a serious mental illness who winds up stealing the heart of the male protagonist. Lawrence has made waves in the world of magazines and celebrity talk shows with her down-to-earth personality and her insistence on maintaining a healthy weight for the young girls who look up to her. The young actress has quickly become America's sweetheart, so fans are looking forward to her portrayal of the sultry and glamorous Rosalyn Rosenfeld.

Family Reunion

Like many directors, Russell is fond of reuniting with actors he worked well with in previous films. Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, and Bradley Cooper starred in Russell's "Silver Linings Playbook" in 2012, while Bale and Amy Adams starred in "The Fighter." These all-star cast members will undoubtedly have great onscreen chemistry with one another as they interact in the fun and glamorous world of "American Hustle." The leading actors in "American Hustle" are known for their method-acting skills and their ability to take on any role in any genre. Although Christian Bale and Bradley Cooper initially swapped roles, the final result works out well, with both men portraying characters who play to their acting talents.

Historical Precedent

Surprisingly, the wild tale of crime and intrigue in "American Hustle" is based on real-life events in the 1970s and 1980s. The ABSCAM scandal that involved a controversial FBI operation and trafficking rings for stolen goods shocked audiences around the country as it unfolded on the nightly news. "American Hustle" takes place in Boston, Massachussetts, the place where the original scandal occurred. As more details came out, it became obvious that a web of political corruption was behind the strange events. While "American Hustle" will undoubtedly feature some creative liberties and twists for the sake of entertainment, it is always fascinating to have a movie that is based primarily in real historical events.