Behind the Scenes of 'Joy': The Methods of David O. Russell
David O. Russell has been described as an intense and passionate director, and in the wintery cold of early March he was shooting a particularly emotional scene in Joy. Edgar Ramirez, who plays Joy's husband, recalls David saying to him "OK, Edgar, you are very angry - now cry".
The actor had not even a minute to find it within himself. He was thrown into it. "If you fake it, you'll be able to bring yourself to tears. Cry! Go, go go! Do it!" The director doesn't lack for demand.
But Ramirez, talking to THR, said that he "didn't know it was possible to feel so free on a movie set." He used the word swirling, which is accurate of Russell's methods. Demanding may not be the right word, but there's certainly an air of adaptive nature in his style. He's willing to go places that he wasn't prepared to go. "I remember a character appearing overnight," Jennifer Lawrence said. "It was so hilarious and amazing. David never stops coming up with ideas, even when we're filming... the process evolves as we go along."
The past decade has seen him produce some of the finest films of their respective years, though short on awards. But if the man can make a film based on a woman who invented a mop, on Fox's budget, than he's clearly making a case for himself as one of the current most relevant filmmakers.
The concept for Joy, based on the real-life entrepreneur, steadily made its way through the pipeline before, in 2013, screenwriter Annie Mumolo was hired to write a script (and potentially direct). Fox wanted something more from it, and a light-bulb moment occurred: they would bring the script to David O. Russell. And the director was intrigued.
Russell called his vision a "multigenerational fable", and he wanted to make it in his own way. He re-jigged the entire script, though Mumolo still earnt a "story by" credit. Days before filming commenced, Russell was still doing rewrites. In those days leading up, storms had been catastrophic to some of the sets. The blizzard caused havoc. And the actors were restless during the 45-day shoot.
But even with rumours of Lawrence having a blowout with the director, she dismisses it. She is adamant that she would work with him again on anything, "as long as it isn't in the middle of a blizzard".
Joy opens on Christmas day.