1. As most of you know, American Hustle is based on a true story. How much of that story is true? A fair amount, actually. The Christian Bale character did exist (Mel Weinberg), he did own a dry-cleaning and a glass-installation business, he was a con artist, and he did help the FBI take down a mayor, six congressman and a senator on bribery charges. As in the movie, he also only cooperated with the Feds after they threatened to prosecute his mistress (Amy Adams), and like in the David O. Russell film, a fake sheikh was used in the scheme to take down the politicians. (via)
2. Not only did Weinberg (upon whom Bale’s character is based) avoid a three-year prison sentence for cooperating in the Abscam investigation, he also received a $150,000 payment from taxpayers for his assistance. (via)
2. The Jennifer Lawrence character was based on Marie Weinberg, although the character and the real-life Marie did not have that much in common. Marie did not, for instance, sleep with a mobster. However, after her husband testified in the Abscam trial, Marie accused Mel — with whom she was seeking a divorce — of accepting a $45,000 payment from one of the defendants. A week after making that accusation, Marie hanged herself, leaving this suicide note: “My sin was wanting to love and be loved, nothing more. But [a] campaign is being made by Mel to discredit me. I haven’t the strength to fight him anymore…. Everything I have attested to is the truth.” (via)
4. Metal in a science oven does not cause fires, nor do microwaves remove the nutritional value from food, as alleged by Jennifer Lawrence’s character in the movie. (via)
5. American Hustle — along with last year’s David O. Russell film Silver Linings Playbook — was the only film to boast Oscar nominees in all four major categories in the last 30 years. Moreover, not only had all four actors been Oscar nominated before American Hustle, they’d all been nominated for other David O. Russell films.
5. Ben Affleck was originally asked to direct American Hustle, which had been called American Bullsh*t (the script, in fact, was 8th on Hollywood’s Black List in 2010). Affleck declined so he could direct The Stand, a project that still has not come to fruition.
6. Christian Bale gained 42 pounds, got a comb over, and slouched so badly that, when Robert DeNiro was on the set, he didn’t recognize Bale and had to ask Russell who that strange man was on set. Bale actually was originally offered the lead role, but had to decline due to a scheduling commitment, so Cooper took over the lead role. Scheduling conflicts were later resolved, allowing Bale to retake the lead role.
Moreover, due to the weight gain, Bale herniated two discs and purportedly suffered a permanent height loss of 3 inches. (During filming, Bale apparently also insisted that he be referred to only by his character name.) (via)
7. Interestingly, though the script was on The Black List, and though Russell rewrote it specifically for Bale, Adams, Cooper, and Lawrence — who he had in mind all along — most of the dialogue was actually improvised because Russell didn’t give a rat’s ass about plot. All he cared about were the characters.
8. During the marketing run-up to American Hustle, every time Amy Adams’ three-year-old daughter would walk by an American Hustle movie poster, she would ask Adams, “Mommy, why are you always showing your boobs?” (via)
9. The scene in which Jennifer Lawrence and Amy Adams’ character kissed was all Amy Adams’ idea, and though there may be character justifications for it, Adams confessed, “Maybe I just wanted to kiss Jennifer. She’s so cute!” (via)
10. The brilliant ice-fishing story that Louis C.K.’s character told during the movie was improvised on the set. It did have an ending, but it was cut from the film. The ending involved the character’s brother sh*tting on the ice.
11. A similar movie based on the Abscam story, Moon Over Miami, was developed in the 1980s, and was set to star Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi. However, the film was scuttled after Belushi’s death.
12. Jennifer Lawrence had to have duplicates of several of her dresses made because she had a knack for staining them while eating Doritos. (via)
13. Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Rohm played a married couple in American Hustle, Carmine and Dolly Polito. They’ve also worked together before, in an episod eof Angel.
14. Interestingly, Senator John Murtha was also targeted in the Abscam investigation, but he did not accept the bribe. It was Charlie Wilson, actually, he saved him from censure in Congress. Wilson, of course, was played by Tom Hanks in another movie, which also starred Amy Adams.
15. The perm? Entirely Bradley Cooper’s idea.
American Hustle was released on DVD and Blu Ray on March 18th.