Bradley Cooper isn’t done praising David O. Russell. “Joy” is the third film the actor has made with the filmmaker, after “Silver Linings Playbook” and “American Hustle,” both of which netted him Oscar nominations. Cooper remains effusive about Russell, who this time casts him as Neil, a composite of execs who helped one Joy Mangano (played by Jennifer Lawrence) bring her invention — the humble Miracle Mop — to the masses. Cooper talks to us about not only his storied collaborators but the satisfaction of being in films that revolve around women.
Who inspired your character in “Joy”?
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Neil Walker is based on three different men Joy Mangano encountered. We wanted to make him a character who was a reflection of Joy’s story. Like Joy, Neil sees things in unconventional ways; he’s different from everyone else in the [QVC] office. He dresses like an old hockey coach, which fits his personality. He is the kind of man who shows his best qualities under pressure — as soon as he calms down.
You've worked with great directors. What sets David O. Russell apart and what do you enjoy about working with him?
I think every director is different. David is a unique character and has a style that is unique. He creates a world where he is the driver and we are there to help him make his history. He always seeks to improve as a director and constantly imposes challenges upon himself. This means that a large number of people can see this film. That’s thanks to David’s strength. He made “The Fighter,” said “OK,” and then went on to make “Silver Linings Playbook,” then said “OK,” and then made “American Hustle.” And now he’s made “Joy”. Those are four really amazing movies in a row. David has a lot of drive, which I think is undeniable.
David likes to work with the same team. Have you developed a close friendship with Jennifer Lawrence and Robert De Niro?
Of course. Bob and I had already worked together on a film called "Limitless," so we had become friends. I met Jen in "Silver Linings Playbook." Yes, it feels quite like a family in many different ways when you make movies with the same people over the years.
From your perspective, are there enough great roles for women in films like “Joy”?
Well, I am a storyteller. I love being involved in stories about men and women that are fascinating. Early in film, Marlene Dietrich was the one who imposed the narrative of the films in which she appeared. I have been fortunate to be in movies where female characters are very complicated and powerful. Women are a force that always need to be taken into account. In my career, which began with television, the first job I had was in a show called “Alias.” JJ Abrams had a female star [Jennifer Garner], so I grew up working within a structure where the woman was the main character.