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Over his past three films, writer-director David O. Russell has found a stable of actors with which he likes to work. Jennifer Lawrence has been his go-to leading lady since Silver Linings Playbook. (And with good reason. When the Michael Jordan of acting wants to return, you hand her whatever role you’ve got.) Meanwhile, Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro have been doing brilliant character work in supporting roles for ensembles that grow from picture to picture.
Joy, the latest from David O. Russell, returns a number of familiar faces to the unpredictable American Dream story of Joy Mangano (Lawrence), the blue-collar single mom best known as the inventor of The Miracle Mop. As you would expect from a Russell dra-medy, Joy is about a lot more than cleaning up messes. Or, maybe, cleaning up messes is actually what it’s really about… just not the kind of messes you initially pictured. When I had a chance to sit down with the cast of Joy in New York City, though, I wanted to know why actors like to work with David O. Russell, and why some like Jennifer Lawrence do it again and again. Here’s what they told me:
The wonderful Isabella Rossellini wins this junket interview for her exquisite joke about taking a role in Joy so she could get to know David O. Russell and eventually marry him. The silver screen icon previously wed Martin Scorsese, and was romantically involved with David Lynch (as well as Gary Oldman). Russell would be in good company.
What I really liked, though, was Edgar Ramirez’s stories about the family atmosphere that David O. Russell creates within his cast. He says that the mood never ends, as the cast often spent time together getting meals and sightseeing when not working on Joy. He said the time spent with his co-stars off-camera – at the encouragement of his director – fed in to the chemistry that they all shared on camera. And he credits Russell with that tactic.
Joy tells the story of an inventive single mother, played by Jennifer Lawrence, who transcends her wacky but supportive family to eventually build an empire in the house-cleaning industry. It co-stars Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro, Virginia Madsen, Edgar Ramirez, Diane Ladd, Isabella Rossellini, Elisabeth Rohm and Dascha Polanco. It will open in theaters on December 25.