american hustle (poster)*Camden Mayor Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner)is a driving force in “American Hustle” and a target of a government sting to bring him down along with other government officials guilty of bribes.

However, you find yourself rooting for Polito because of his altruistic concerns for his constituents who are mostly Black and Hispanic. He has even adopted an African American son. The David O. Russell directed film is loosely based on the late 70’s Abscam scandal. Christian Bale (Irving Rosenfeld), Amy Adams (Sydney Prosser), Bradley Cooper (Richie DiMaso), Jennifer Lawrence (Rosalyn Rosenfeld), and Michael Pena (Paco Hernandez/Sheik Abdullah) also star.

Members of the cast, director Russell and producers were in New York City recently to promote their film at the Crosby Hotel. With much talk about the characters in the movie reinventing his or her life, The Film Strip asked cast members if the lure and excitement of acting is predicated on the fact that they get to reinvent themselves with each role?

CHRISTIAN BALE: For me, it’s studying people. It’s nice. Everybody at nighttime dreams and goes a little insane and that’s socially acceptable because we’re dreaming. It’s a little bit, for me, like dreaming in a waking state because you get these people and you get to go a little insane and that’s expected. The more that you are, the better it is. I find that very addictive.

JENNIFER LAWRENCE: Yeah, the study of people is kind of like what I’ve been doing since I was little in Kentucky. Just watching people and just studying them and being able to mimic their body language and things like that. Being able to figure a person, what kind of person are you playing, how they move, how do they walk. But between action and cut it’s almost like meditating in a weird way because any thing that I’m feeling, cold or pain, after cut I’m not. [While acting]  I’m in a completely different frame of mind and it’s a high.

David, how was it reinventing an era?

DAVID O. RUSSELL: I never think about doing a period per se. To be a student of human behavior, that’s what Jennifer was just talking about. That’s what everybody here did, to be a student of human behavior. That’s what Christian and I spoke about in his backyard. It’s a constant study of human behavior, which is always fascinating and unpredictable and sometimes horrible and magical.

CB: For myself, I’m always interested in what David is making. I always know it’s gonna be something that’s really fascinating and something that will be really memorable for many years to come. He’s always got a very interesting take to it and he’s got an approach to working with each and every actor that’s really different and dynamic. And when I first saw the pictures of the real Mel Weinberg, it was not what I expected at all and I just saw such incredible possibilities of what we could achieve together.

AMY ADAMS: David always makes sure that his characters are multidimensional and his women, thank you David, are multidimensional. So playing those dimensions is just a thrill as an actress.

Can you talk about the big role music plays?

DOR: Everything comes from character and it comes from what you love. I give the characters in the film what I love. So Duke Ellington begins the picture at the beginning their (Irving and Sydney) love affair together; and ‘Jeep’s Blues’ is one of my favorite tracks. I’ve known ‘Jeep’s Blues’ for over 30 years and I thought the fact that those two would love ‘Jeep’s Blues’ would [play well]. So everything about them indicate they have chosen lives of elegance like Duke Ellington, you know. I like Edward Kennedy Ellington they have chosen his [grandeur]. They have elegance about them that they chose and they have a passion for that music. And when Ella Fitzgerald plays when the two are on the phone, the stage is set for hope and romance. I love to use songs.

Christian, would this be the music that the real life Mel Weinberg would listen to?

CB: I would say that the thing that got Irv through his bad times is just imagining a relationship with Shirley Bassey. That was the thing. When I spoke with Mel Weinberg, he was in love with Shirley Bassey. So whenever there were bad times, I’d imagine him dancing with Shirley Bassey.

Syndicated entertainment reporter Marie Moore reports on film and TV from her New York City base. Contact her at thefilmstrip@gmail.com