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David O. Russell Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (3) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (1) | Trade Mark (4) | Trivia (13) | Personal Quotes (15)

Overview (3)

Date of Birth 20 August 1958New York City, New York, USA
Birth NameDavid Owen Russell
Height 5' 11" (1.8 m)

Mini Bio (1)

David Owen Russell is an American film writer, director, and producer, known for a cinema of intense, tragi-comedic characters whose love of life can surpass dark circumstances faced in very specific worlds. His films address such themes as mental illness as stigma or hope; invention of self and survival; the family home as nexus of love, hate, transgression, and strength; women of power and inspiration; beauty and comedy found in twisted humble circumstances; the meaning of violence, war, and greed; and the redemptive power of music above all.

Russell has been nominated for five Academy Awards® and four Golden Globes®. He has won four Independent Spirit Awards and two BAFTA Awards. He has been nominated for three WGA awards and two DGA awards. He has collaborated with actors Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro, Jennifer Lawrence, and Mark Wahlberg, on three films each, and with Christian Bale and Amy Adams, on two films each. Jennifer Lawrence won the Academy Award for Best Actress in Silver Linings Playbook (2012) and Christian Bale and Melissa Leo won for best supporting actor and actress in The Fighter (2010). Russell is the only director to have two consecutively-released films (Silver Linings Playbook (2012) and _American Hustle (2013)_ qv) garner Academy Award® nominations in all four acting categories. Jennifer Lawrence earned an Academy Award® nomination and Golden Globe® win for Best Actress for her work in Russell's most recent film Joy (2015). To date Russell's films have garnered a total of 26 Academy Award nominations and 19 Golden Globe nominations. In 2016, the Art Directors Guild honored Russell with the Contribution to Cinematic Imagery Award.

Russell is a board member and longtime supporter of the Ghetto Film School, which helps develop and support emerging filmmakers in the South Bronx and runs the nation's first film public high school. He also has been an ardent supporter of the Glenholme School, a therapeutic boarding school for children and young adults with special educational needs. He was instrumental in raising funds to build a new arts center at Glenholme that opened in 2011. Glenholme honored Russell in 2011 with the Bowen Award for Outstanding Support and in 2015 with the Doucette Award for Longstanding Commitment.

Russell was recently honored by the renowned McLean Hospital for his efforts to advance public awareness of mental health issues through advocacy and his 2012 film Silver Linings Playbook. The director has been open about his own family's experiences with mental illness. His advocacy efforts brought him to Washington where he and actor Bradley Cooper supported legislation in Congress and met with Vice President Joe Biden to also discuss parity for mental health in all health care.

Born in New York City, Russell attended public schools in Mamaroneck, NY. He continued his education at Amherst College, where he majored in literature and political science, and was given an honorary degree in 2002. He started as a writer before making his first documentary short about the Hispanic immigrant community in Boston. He earned critical acclaim early in his career in 1994 when he wrote and directed his first feature film, Spanking the Monkey, which won the Audience Award at Sundance and two Independent Spirit Awards for Best First Feature and Best First Screenplay. Russell's early films include Three Kings (1999) and Flirting with Disaster (1996).

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Kjm

Spouse (1)

Janet Grillo (1992 - 2007) (divorced) (1 child)

Trade Mark (4)

Handheld camera movement
Ensemble casting
Frequently uses the Led Zepplin song "Good Times Bad Times" in his films.

Trivia (13)

Honored at Manhattan's Museum of Modern Art in April 2002 by guests such as Lily Tomlin, Mark Wahlberg and Sandra Bernhard. Ironic site for tribute, since Russell once served as a waiter at parties there, to the likes of Martin Scorsese.
Graduated from Amherst College 1981, majoring in English and Political Science.
Former Son-in-law of Angela Grillo
Was member of the dramatic jury at the Sundance Film Festival in 2003.
Went to Mamaroneck High School in Mamaroneck, New York with Bennett Miller and Dan Futterman.
Father of actor Matthew Antonio Grillo Russell with producer/actress Janet Grillo.
Directed 7 different actors in Oscar-nominated performances: Christian Bale (twice), Amy Adams (twice), Melissa Leo, Bradley Cooper (twice), Jennifer Lawrence (three times), Robert De Niro, and Jacki Weaver. Bale and Leo won Oscars for their performances in The Fighter (2010); Lawrence won for her performance in Silver Linings Playbook (2012).
His father was of Russian Jewish descent and his mother was of Italian ancestry.
The only director to helm two consecutively-released films (Silver Linings Playbook (2012) and American Hustle (2013)) that were nominated for Academy Awards in all acting categories.
Finally exited his directorial project Accidental Love (2015) (then still titled "Nailed") in June 2010 after many financial and legal troubles during the shooting of the film and negotiations with film financier Ron Tutor eventually broke down. The movie was shelved ever since ending principal photography in November 2008. It was rumored that the film was never fully finished and that crucial parts of the plot were never shot. It was eventually released in 2015. However, Russell's name is no longer associated with the film. Therefore, he receives directing credit as "Stephen Greene" (similar to the old "Alan Smithee" pseudonym used by directors who disown the final product of a film they may have directed at one point but eventually were not able to exercise creative control over (due to producers' or financiers' interference, for example)).
Wrote the screenplay adaptation of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016), with the intention of directing it. After he dropped out, Burr Steers revised and polished the script and directed it. In the end, Russell didn't receive any credit.
Did uncredited rewrites on the script for Meet the Fockers (2004).
Wrote early drafts of the screenplay for Stuart Little (1999), but didn't earn any credit.

Personal Quotes (15)

There's nothing better than an actor who is really, really hungry to show everything they've got.
It's imperative for me to tell everybody that this is personal, it means a lot to me. You have to impart how much it means to you in a personal way, which will bring everybody into it, and get you closer to working with that horse, whether that's a Steadicam operator or an actor. That's the thing I'm most proud of. You know, ironically given how you can get tagged, exaggerated from one or two past incidents, is that I'm most proud of being in sync and feeling like a family with the crew...and having everybody being willing to go through fire for this vision. That's a wonderful thing. It's a little sad when it ends. (...) That's why I start every day in the van. I have a van, like the van that they drove me to the set in, and I want the actors, I want the head of every department to come with me in the van at the very first moment I arrive there, and let's talk about what the day is, so that everybody has a very intimate feeling of what we're doing. Because the movie's not out there on the set with all those extras trying to look at the camera. You can get out there, and the energy's very dissipated, and it's very chaotic and the whole thing can be misdirected, the energy. And you want everyone to be feeling what you feel in your heart.
[on directing Amy Adams in American Hustle (2013)] I just really wanted to challenge her. I wanted her to do a role that was as strong as the guy parts, and more cunning in certain respects. Appetite has a lot to do with it. And she has an enormous appetite. It's almost athletic. She rises to the challenge...I have a musical idea that I would like to discuss with her.
I make every movie and scene as if it could be my last.
People go to the movies because they want a full experience. If you're not gonna give it to them with guns or bombs, you've gotta give it to them with human opera.
I don't think you should ever 'send a message'... I'm more interested in the people.
Strong women are, to me, the secret to great cinema.
[on how he made Christian Bale and Jennifer Lawrence win Oscars] I would never say that I made these guys win anything. I would say that it was my privilege to aspire and to create a predicament that is twisted and human and allows them to have roles that will show as much behavior and emotion as possible. That's my goal. I want to deliver that to them. It's my job. To create a role that is vast and complicated and emotional...
I personally have had two phases of my filmmaking career. I was here [at the Berlinale] with Three Kings (1999) in 1999 and then I decided 'let's make a metaphysical film' [I Heart Huckabees (2004)]. Which did okay. It didn't succeed like I wanted it to. And then I met Darren Aronofsky after he made The Wrestler (2008). I said 'what happened, you're doing so good.' He said 'I got my head out of my ass.' And that can happen to anybody. Your head can go up your ass because you're afraid of failure or there's pressure the more movies you make. So I kind of lost my way as a storyteller.
[on the acting atmosphere on his sets] It's like doing drugs. [Christian Bale has] described it like a waking dream. That's why I don't like to call 'cut.' Because once we get going, it's like you're in a dream. Or Jennifer has described it as like being high. And I don't want to interrupt that. Something is happening where everybody is over in that other world. [2014]
I think any spiritual experience that's worthwhile is not about ego and it will humble you in some way. And also, a Zen monk once said to me, 'If you're not laughing, then you're not getting it.'
Anything you could ever want or be you already have and are.
I just love real characters; they're not pretentious, and every emotion is on the surface, they're regular working people. Their likes, their dislikes, their loves, their hates, their passions; they're all right there on the surface.
I watch films incessantly. I like watching films - they're like music to me. I love it. They make me happy. They make me want to live. They make me want to get out of bed. It's like great music. [2015]
[on David Lean's Hobson's Choice (1954)] It's a fantastic, perfect film. [2015]

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