.The new trailer for Lawrence's upcoming film "American Hustle" has premiered exclusively here on Yahoo Movies, and it gives a first look at her in character as a mother dealing with an unfaithful con artist husband (played by Christian Bale). Watch the trailer, then read what Russell said about how Lawrence and her Oscar-caliber costars embraced the big hair and bigger personalities of the unbelievable true story.
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Russell — who directed Jennifer Lawrence to an Academy Award for her performance in last year's "Silver Linings Playbook" — told Yahoo Movies in a phone interview that she jumped at the chance to play such a different character right after finishing work on "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire." Said the filmmaker, "It was a vacation for her to dive into that character in the middle of all the other work as Katniss Everdeen."
Lawrence plays Rosalyn, the long-suffering wife of grifter Irving Rosenfeldwho becomes an unexpected complication in his high-stakes con game. "You could just see her eyes light up at the idea of becoming this woman who was loving and a great mother, but also — as she’s described in the movie — a 'Picasso of passive aggressive karate,'" Russell said. "She is very tender and loving with her kid, but I love when people are unconventional or incorrect in terms of how they can be around their family."Inspired by a true story of an FBI agent who enlisted con artists to catch crooked politicians, the film reunites Russell with several stars he has directed in the past, including Bale and Amy Adams from "The Fighter" (for which he won an Oscar and she earned a Best Supporting Actress nomination) and Bradley Cooper from "Silver Linings Playbook" (he, too, got an Oscar nod). And the director made an effort to push each actor in an unfamiliar direction. "It's good if it's a character they haven't played before," Russell said, "then they're excited to find some way in to being this other person. That's exciting for me and for them."
In Bale's case, becoming a different person meant changing both his waistline and his hairline. Bale lost a significant amount of weight for his role as the crack-addicted brother to Mark Wahlberg's boxing champ in Russell's "The Fighter," but he went the opposite route for "Hustle," packing on a potbelly.
Russell said to prepare for a role, "Christian goes off to his 'Christian workshop,' and he often comes back with his own concoction. He does what he needs to do to feel the character." And that included learning how to craft an elaborate comb over with his own hair. "It takes time to meticulously construct," Russell said. "It's like a construction that people do everyday when they go to work… We filmed him doing it in real time, which was just kind of amazing watching him do it."
[Photos: See the 'American Hustle' Character Banners]
For Amy Adams — who broke out playing a Disney princess in "Enchanted" and scored another Oscar nomination as a nun in "Doubt" — breaking new ground meant getting glamorous with some sexy '70s styles. "I think she had, like, 80 wardrobe changes," Russell recalled. "And I said, 'You're going to be one of these Cosmo women,' because her character did work briefly with Cosmopolitan magazine."
Adams plays Sydney Prosser, Irving's partner in his cons (and his lover), whom Russell described as, "A woman who really enjoys glamour and who is also tough and smart, but very, very sexy."
Russell's other "Silver Linings Playbook" star, Bradley Cooper, also takes a 180-degree turn from the heartbroken and unbalanced part he played in their last collaboration. Cooper plays FBI agent Richie DiMaso, who enlists Irving and Sydney in an elaborate undercover operation to root out corruption. Russell said that Cooper "goes a step further transforming into a New York character with super-intense emotion and energy and heat with Amy."
"They get in way over their heads," Russell said about this unlikely team that's a fictionalized version of an actual federal case file. "It's escalating danger, which is true... It started out with a couple of small con artists and a couple of Federal agents, and it just exploded." As Agent DiMaso delves deeper into the New Jersey political landscape of the time, the stakes get dramatically higher. "Suddenly it involves the mafia, which happened in truth," Russell explained. "Then it involves the power brokers [and] politicians, which none of these people had ever dealt with, ever. The FBI guys hadn't, the con artists hadn't. None of them had dealt with these increasing perilous levels of danger, and that's part of what makes it exciting."
The new addition to Russell's company of actors is Jeremy Renner, who plays a New Jersey politico who becomes the target of Cooper's sting operation. Russell said, "Jeremy Renner is in some ways a little bit of a hard-boiled person in his own life and also in the characters he has played." So his role in "Hustle" is a departure for how Renner tends to present himself both onscreen and off.
"This character wears his heart on his sleeve, which was sort of the opposite of what Jeremy is used to, personally. So it was kind of unusual for him, but also very exciting for him."
Russell hopes that "American Hustle" continues his streak of films that go against audience expectations: "My goal above all is to create stories and characters that are kind of fascinating and surprising in ways that people aren’t used to."
"American Hustle" opens on December 13 in New York and Los Angeles, and nationwide on Christmas Day.