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David O. Russell’s Joy is a fast-paced, quirky and dysfunctional – in the best way possible – biopic of celebrated inventor Joy Mangano, who came up with the design for the Miracle Mop, then fought tooth-and-nail to bring the resourceful tool into people’s homes. Together with familiar ensemble players Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro and Bradley Cooper, Russell captures the familial energies and tensions that have populated his previous films, from The Fighter to Silver Linings Playbook. But something was off as he worked on his final cut, and in interviewing his cast recently, they tipped me off to a major change.
The women in Joy’s life are portrayed by a trio of Hollywood heavy hitters. Virginia Madsen, Isabella Rossellini and Diane Ladd all play important female figures in Mangano’s story, and I was privileged to sit down with them and discuss the film in detail. During said conversation, I learned that the narration track that accompanies the movie wasn’t always supposed to be that of Joy’s grandmother, Mimi, played by Ladd. In fact, she tells me that changed long after she was finished shooting:
The picture was finished, and I got a call from David and the producers, all in a room together. They had another gentleman narrating. And they said they had come up with a decision that the matriarch, the grandmother, they wanted her to narrate the whole film. So I had to start over with the narration.
It was a decision that Diane Ladd says cost her at least two scenes in the final movie. Apparently they had to be cut because they didn’t make sense now that she was providing a narration track to David O. Russell’s finished film. However, she understood why the director went in this direction, because it made sense for the overall theme of the movie. As her co-star, the legendary Isabella Rossellini, explained to me:
It seems to be, an unconditional love. But it seems, it’s [also] generational women. [This is] a film about women, and the strengths start with the grandmother. It’s expressed in Jennifer Lawrence’s Joy. But it’s really, there is a long story of the strength that women pass on.
It is a fantastic point made by two extraordinary actresses. Listen to them elaborate on the craft of Joy in the full interview clip below.
Joy stars Jennifer Lawrence as Joy Mangano, the inventor of the Miracle Mop (among other products), and it encompasses the struggles she endured before making it big. The movie is in theaters as we speak.