David O. Russell
|David O. Russell|
Russell at the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival
|Born||David Owen Russell
August 20, 1958
New York City, United States
|Other names||David O'Russell|
|Occupation||Director and screenwriter|
|Spouse(s)||Janet Grillo (1992–2007; 1 child)|
David Owen Russell (born August 20, 1958) is a BAFTA Award winning American film director and screenwriter. His films include Spanking the Monkey (1994), Flirting with Disaster (1996), Three Kings (1999), I ♥ Huckabees (2004), The Fighter (2010), Silver Linings Playbook (2012), and American Hustle (2013), which all feature ensemble casts.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Career
- 3 Ghetto Film School
- 4 Filmography
- 5 Awards and Nominations
- 6 References
- 7 Further reading
- 8 External links
Russell was born in New York City, New York, the son of Maria (née Muzio) and Bernard Russell, who was a sales executive for Simon & Schuster. His father was from a Russian Jewish family, while his mother was Italian American and Catholic. He was raised in an atheist household. Russell was married to Janet Grillo from 1992 to 2007.
Spanking the Monkey
His first directorial effort was the 1994 independent dark comedy Spanking the Monkey. The film was produced by Dean Silvers, and starred Jeremy Davies as a troubled young man and Alberta Watson as his lonely mother. Despite the controversial subject matter, the film received critical acclaim and won him Best First Screenplay and Best First Feature from the Independent Spirit Awards, as well as the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival.
Flirting with Disaster
His next project was the Miramax comedy, Flirting with Disaster (1996), his second collaboration with Dean Silvers, and first with Harvey Weinstein. The film follows a neurotic man (Ben Stiller) who travels with his wife (Patricia Arquette) and a high-strung caseworker (Téa Leoni) to find his biological parents. The film also starred Mary Tyler Moore, George Segal, Alan Alda, Josh Brolin, Richard Jenkins, and Lily Tomlin. It was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the Cannes Film Festival, and was well received by most critics. Roger Ebert said of the direction, "Russell finds the strong central line all screwball begins with, the seemingly serious mission or quest, and then throws darts at a map of the United States as he creates his characters." Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly gave the film a 'B' and declared it "one of the ha-ha funniest comedies currently at a theater near you."
The success of those two films led to the Gulf War thriller Three Kings, starring George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, Ice Cube and Spike Jonze. Adapted from an earlier script by former stand-up comic John Ridley, the film follows three American GIs who devise a plan to steal hidden Kuwaiti gold during the 1991 Iraqi uprising against Saddam Hussein. Filmed in the deserts of Arizona, California and Mexico, and featuring actual Iraqi refugees as extras, Russell used several unique cinematic techniques to achieve a feeling of realism. He filmed using handheld cameras and Steadicam, and shot on Ektachrome slide photography stock that was cross processed in colour negative chemicals, to reproduce "the odd colour of the newspaper images [of the Gulf War]." He also insisted on filming all of the explosions in one shot, as opposed to a typical action film.
Three Kings was released in 1999 and was his biggest critical and financial success. It grossed $60 million in the United States and over $100 million worldwide. It holds a 94% at Rotten Tomatoes, with the consensus "Three Kings successfully blends elements of action, drama, and comedy into a thoughtful, exciting movie on the Gulf War." It ended up being the first of several collaborations with Mark Wahlberg. During filming, news spread of Russell and George Clooney nearly having a fistfight on the set. In a 2000 interview, Clooney described his confrontation with Russell after tensions on the set had been steadily increasing. According to Clooney, Russell was demeaning the crew verbally and physically. Clooney felt this was out of line and told Russell, "David, it's a big day. But you can't shove, push or humiliate people who aren't allowed to defend themselves." After the confrontation escalated when, according to Sharon Waxman in "Rebels on the Backlot," Russell actually headbutted Clooney and Clooney grabbed Russell by the throat, Clooney said Russell eventually apologized and filming continued, but Clooney described the incident as "truly, without exception, the worst experience of my life." When asked if he would work with Russell again, Clooney responded, "Life's too short." In early 2012, Clooney indicated that he and Russell had mended their relationship, saying "We made a really, really great film, and we had a really rough time together, but it's a case of both of us getting older. I really do appreciate the work he continues to do, and I think he appreciates what I'm trying to do."
I Heart Huckabees
Russell's next project was the existential comedy I ♥ Huckabees. Russell had conflicts with Lily Tomlin during its filming, a video of which surfaced on video sites such as YouTube. These conflicts were first reported in a 2004 New York Times article by Sharon Waxman in which she describes him calling Tomlin "...the crudest word imaginable, in front of the actors and crew." Additionally Waxman describes Russell storming off the set and back on again, continually shouting, which is corroborated by the leaked videos. The set was characterized as emotionally charged, with Russell begging nothing but his dream for the film from the actors, who were sometimes driven to their wits' ends after hours of takes. Afterward, Tomlin remarked that she and Russell are "fine", saying, "I'd rather have someone human and available and raw and open. Don't give me someone cold, or cut off, or someone who considers themselves dignified." In a 2011 interview with Movieline, Tomlin was asked about the incident and she replied:
It happens sometimes—but David is a very mercurial person, and that's part of why he's so brilliant. He almost reflects the movie. I did two movies with him, and I Heart Huckabees was so crazy, so all over the place, I think he kind of embodies intuitively whatever he's trying to make happen. It was just crazy, crazy stuff. We were always doing something, and then we'd get manic and crazy and I just flipped out on him. Then he flipped out on me. And you know, stuff goes on. But it's nothing. It's like family. If you have a big fight in your family, usually it's treated that way on the set. We don't want to misbehave; believe me, it's embarrassing. It's humiliating, you know? Because you just lose it. You act like a crazy person. [Laughs] But I adore David. I adore him as a talent. A lot of my friends said, "Well, you won't work with him again." I said, "Of course I would! I adore him, I love him. He's brilliant." 
The film itself was released to mixed reviews.
Nailed is a political comedy co-written by Russell and Kristin Gore which stars Jessica Biel, Jake Gyllenhaal, Tracy Morgan, Catherine Keener, Paul Reubens, Josh Brolin, and Kirstie Alley. Production was delayed or shut down four times in 2008, resulting in IATSE shutting down production because the crew was not getting paid. Actor James Caan left mid-production "due to creative differences and [the] split was amicable."
The film, which is unlikely to ever be released, revolves around the character of Alice Eckle (played by Jessica Biel) who gets accidentally shot in the head with a nail by a clumsy workman, eliciting wild sexual urges. The uninsured Eckle goes on a crusade to Washington to fight for the rights of the bizarrely injured. She meets an immoral congressman (Jake Gyllenhaal) who takes advantage of her sex drive and capitalizes on her crusade as Eckle heads into her own career in politics.
In 2010 Russell returned with The Fighter, a biographical sports drama produced by and starring Mark Wahlberg. The film focuses on junior welterweight boxer Mickey Ward's rise to claim the WBU Light Welterweight title, as well as his difficult relationship with his mother, Alice Ward (Melissa Leo), and his older half-brother Dickie Eklund (Christian Bale). The film became a major critical and financial success, grossing $125 million, and appearing on several critics' year-end top ten lists. The Fighter also received seven Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director for Russell, the first of his career, and earned awards for both Bale and Leo, for Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress, respectively.
Silver Linings Playbook
Silver Linings Playbook, was adapted from the serio-comic novel by Matthew Quick. Bradley Cooper plays Pat and Robert De Niro, who starred with Cooper in Limitless, co-stars as his father. Jennifer Lawrence plays the lead female role of Tiffany. She commented about Russell, "He’s really my favorite director since I started watching movies." The cast also includes Jacki Weaver, Chris Tucker and the veteran Bollywood actor Anupam Kher. The film was released in the United States and Canada on November 16, 2012. Russell received the Hollywood Director Award at the 16th annual Hollywood Film Awards and an Indie Impact Award at the Palm Springs International Film Festival for his work on the film, as well as two Independent Spirit Awards (Best Director, Best Screenplay), two Satellite Awards (Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay), a BAFTA Film Award (Adapted Screenplay), and the AFI Award for Movie of the Year. Silver Linings Playbook won the People's Choice Award at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival and garnered four Golden Globe Award nominations (with one win for Jennifer Lawrence, Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy) and eight Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director (Russell), Best Adapted Screenplay (Russell), Best Actor in a Leading Role (Bradley Cooper), Best Actress in a Leading Role (winner, Jennifer Lawrence), Best Supporting Actor (Robert De Niro), Best Supporting Actress (Jacki Weaver) and Best Film Editing (Jay Cassidy and Crispin Struthers).
Silver Linings Playbook is about a former teacher, played by Bradley Cooper, who suffers from bipolar disorder, and moves back in with his family. The film was inspired by Devereaux Glenholme School, a 12-month special education boarding school in Washington, CT. Russell's son is currently a student there, and Russell stated, "I was so familiar with the issues in the story that I knew how emotional and funny and original it could be. Without this community I would never have made this film." 
Legacy of Secrecy
Russell will write and direct "Legacy of Secrecy", an adaptation of Lamar Waldron's non-fiction book of the same name, based on the assassination of John F. Kennedy. The film will star Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro.
Ghetto Film School
In 2002, Russell met Andrew Unger while receiving an honorary degree at Amherst College. Unger introduced Russell to Joe Hall, president of Ghetto Film School. After viewing some of the student work, Russell immediately joined the board of Ghetto Film School, located in The Bronx, New York. Along with fellow board members, Russell brought filmmaker friends, movie studios, and industry professionals to donate money and lend their time to teach classes and support the growth of young black and Latino filmmakers from the South Bronx and Harlem. One of the connections Russell brought to the school, Rachael Horovitz, currently serves as the board chairman. In a recent interview, president Joe Hall went on record saying, "Without David there is no Ghetto Film School."
|1987||Bingo Inferno: A Parody on American Obsessions (short)||Director, writer and producer|
|1990||Hairway to the Stars||Director|
|1994||Spanking the Monkey||Director, writer and producer|
|1996||Flirting with Disaster||Director and writer|
|1999||Three Kings||Director and writer (story by John Ridley)|
|2002||The Slaughter Rule||Producer|
|2004||Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy||Producer|
|2004||I ♥ Huckabees||Director and writer (with Jeff Baena)|
|2004||Soldiers Pay||Director and producer|
|2004||Wake Up, Ron Burgundy: The Lost Movie||Executive producer|
|2009||Outer Space Astronauts (TV series)|
|2012||Silver Linings Playbook||Director, writer (based on Matthew Quick's homonymous novel) and producer|
|2013||American Hustle||Director and writer|
|TBA||Nailed||Director and writer (with Kristin Gore)||Unfinished and unreleased. During production in 2008, production was halted as financing collapsed.|
Awards and Nominations
- Film. "The nutty director". Telegraph. Retrieved September 19, 2012.
- Published: May 24, 2000 (May 24, 2000). "Paid Notice: Deaths RUSSELL, MARIA MUZIO - New York Times". Nytimes.com.
- NEWMAN, BRUCE (September 12, 1999). "THE NEW SEASON/FILM: EMERGING DIRECTORS; Cutting the Apron Strings, a Director Turns to War - New York Times". Nytimes.com. Retrieved September 19, 2012.
- Benardello, Karen (2012-11-21). "The Cast and Crew Talk About Silver Linings Playbook". Shockya.com. Retrieved 2013-12-07.
- Rich, B Ruby (November 1, 2004). "This film is part of me". The Guardian (London). Retrieved May 1, 2010.
- "Spanking the Monkey Reviews". Retrieved 2010-01-26.
- "Awards for Spanking the Monkey". Retrieved 2010-01-26.
- "Flirting with Disaster Reviews". Retrieved 2010-01-26.
- "Roger Ebert's review of Flirting with Disaster". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2010-01-26.
- "Lisa Schwarzbaum's review of Flirting with Disaster". Entertainment Weekly. 1996-04-05. Retrieved 2010-01-26.
- "Box Office Mojo: Three Kings". Retrieved 2010-01-26.
- "Three Kings Movie Reviews". Retrieved 2010-01-26.
- "Playboy Interview: George Clooney". Playboy. July 2000, p. 2 of online interew
- "George Clooney: The Private Life of a Superstar". Retrieved 2012-02-15.
- "Lily Tomlin Fights With Director". YouTube. Retrieved July 24, 2013.
- Waxman, Sharon (September 19, 2004). "The Nudist Buddhist Borderline-Abusive Love-In". New York Times.
- "Lily Tomlin on Robert Altman, David O. Russell and a Lifetime of Achievement". Retrieved 2011-11-03.
- "I ♥ Huckabees Movie Reviews". Retrieved 2010-01-26.
- Finke, Nikki. "David O. Russell Film Shut Down 4th Time". Deadline.
- "Jessica Biel Mourns David O. Russell’s Nailed". /Film.
- "Caan Quits David O. Russell's 'Nailed'". Entertainment Weekly.
- Indiewire, August 22, 2012: New Details On David O. Russell's 'Nailed,' Film Unlikely To Ever See The Light Of Day Retrieved 2013-02-27
- "Gyllenhaal in bed with Biel for 'Nailed'". The Hollywood Reporter.
- "Box Office Mojo: The Fighter". Retrieved 2010-01-26.
- "The Top Tens: January 12, 2011". Retrieved 2010-01-26.
- "Nominees for the 83rd Academy Awards". Retrieved 2010-01-26.
- "David O. Russell to Direct The Silver Linings Playbook". Retrieved 2010-01-26.
- "Toronto 2012: New-Found Fame Stressing 'Hunger Games' Jennifer Lawrence". Retrieved 2012-09-09.
- "Anupam Kher teams up with Robert De Niro". Retrieved 2011-10-20.
- "Anne Hathaway To Star In David O. Russell's THE SILVER LINING PLAYBOOK".
- "David O. Russell to be honored at Hollywood Film Awards". Retrieved 2012-09-28.
- Sneider, Jeff. "Variety". Hyphenate to be feted at 10 Directors to Watch event in Palm Springs.
- "Spirit Awards 2013".
- "International Press Academy". 2012 Winners.
- "BAFTA Film".
- "AFI Movies of the Year".
- "'Silver Linings' wins Toronto's People's Choice". Retrieved 2012-09-16.
- The Oscars. "2013 Oscar Nominees".
- "Big Bashes, Intimate Affairs". Retrieved 2012-10-25.
- "The Glenholme School News". Retrieved 2012-12-05.
- Schou, Solvej (October 5, 2012). "Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner, Amy Adams to star in David O. Russell project". Entertainment Weekly.
- "David O. Russell to Direct JFK Assassination Film 'Legacy of Secrecy'?". firstshowing.net. May 17, 2013. Retrieved May 18, 2013.
- "E.A. Hanks: Q & A With Joe Hall Of Ghetto Film School". Retrieved 2007-10-19.
- "A Bronx Film School Tale". Retrieved 2010-09-05.
- "Film school set for Bronx". Retrieved 2009-04-12.
- By NIKKI FINKE, Editor in Chief. "David O. Russell Film Shut Down 4th Time". Deadline.com. Retrieved 2013-12-07.
- Waxman, Sharon, ed. (2005), Rebels on the Backlot: Six Maverick Directors and How They Conquered the Hollywood Studio System, HarperEntertainment.
- David O. Russell at the Internet Movie Database
- "Notes on Quirky" Movie: A Journal of Film Criticism
- David O. Russell collected news and commentary at The New York Times
- Literature on David O. Russell
- TWC Director's Gallery: David O. Russell
- David O. Russell - Official Site