“That was a first for me,” says David O. Russell, writer and director of Silver Linings Playbook . (And director of Spanking the Monkey, Flirting with Disaster, Three Kings, I Heart Huckabees and The Fighter.) He’s talking about casting his leading lady via Skype: Jennifer Lawrence, in her parents’ home in Louisville, Kentucky, a year and a half ago, sitting in front of a computer and auditioning for the role of Tiffany Maxwell, the young, messed-up widow who falls for the not quite as young, but more than as much messed-up character played by Bradley Cooper . Silver Linings goes into wide release Wednesday, Nov. 21, and both Cooper and Lawrence are already getting lots of Oscar buzz.
“She had prepared for the role,” Russell remembers in a recent interview. “She had put on the makeup as she imagined Tiffany to be described — they’re very thorough over there at that house. You know, her mother discovered The Hunger Games, her mother reads the books and gives them to her….. And they both read the [Silver Linings] book and the screenplay.
“So she had on the heavy eye liner and she did this whole thing, she worked with me over Skype. Jennifer really not only showed her ability to take direction over Skype, but also showed her particular gifts and charms and just-being-herself toughness and humor and intelligence. It all came across. And it was a surprise, because we had already narrowed our field down to three other choices. And she was someone who was just a pro forma audition, out of courtesy.”
So much for the other three.