Following the enormous success of Silver Linings Playbook, which nabbed leading lady Jennifer Lawrence her first Oscar, David O. Russell opted to recreate the magic for 2013’s American Hustle. By re-casting Lawrence and Bradley Cooper alongside a veritable array of big-name stars, the chances were good that he’d finally sweep the board at that year’s Academy Awards. And then… it never happened. Despite bagging a whopping ten nominations, Hustle failed to shake its obvious aspirations and claimed zero statuettes. This begs the question; what approach will Russell take for his next pic, Joy?
For Russell, the adage “If ain’t broke, why fix it?” has become a mainstay in his casting decisions. Bringing his main core of actors, Lawrence, Cooper and De Niro, back for the QVC-inspired biopic, his intentions this time are wholly different.
The story revolves around housewife Joy Mangano, who skyrocketed to success after her Miracle Mop invention took off on the home shopping network. Following her appearance on the channel, she sold 18,000 mops in a mere twenty minutes. Lawrence will play the Long Island-based Mangano, with De Niro in line to play her father and Cooper’s character in an as-yet unknown role.
“It’s very exciting,” Russell said in an interview with The Playlist. “It’s a blessing because I can write for them. I can talk to them about the parts. I can aspire to be worthy of them.”
What will the lure be for the three toplining actors this time around though? The notion of a movie based around a mop seems a little unappealing. But, as Russell went on to say, his vision for the picture will be a reason in itself. Joy will be a “departure” that sounds like it’ll draw on Lawrence’s superbly nuanced skills to bring this rags-to-riches tale to the big screen:
“It’s set and the ‘80s and ‘90s, but I’m going to take a different approach musically than I’ve ever taken before,” he continues. “I aspire to make an unexpected movie, both for myself and for Jennifer. It’s about a woman… what’s inside her.”
“If you go inside someone, it’s another story. If you go inside her and the people around her, and if you go into a different key of storytelling that feels… It’s a departure. It’s taking risks that we haven’t taken before. This is going to be a very intense emotional and existential look at a woman’s heart and soul as she becomes powerful.”
Will we see a return to Russell’s less awards-friendly pics of years gone by? Assessing his more recent output, it’s hard to believe that this is the same filmmaker who fought onset with Lily Tomlin during the shoot for insane existential comedy, I Heart Huckabees. If his intentions are to depart into a new avenue of emotional exploration, will Joy be a return to his zany madcap beginnings? We’ve got a year to wait before we find out, as the pic is slated to sweep into cinemas on December 25th, 2015.