Discover BAFTA-winning director David O. Russell's thoughts on his work and the film industry today in the annual David Lean Lecture.
Director, writer and producer David O. Russell delivered this year's David Lean Lecture, discussing his work and the varied influences behind his films.
Listen to the interview in full >
David O. Russell began his lecture by acknowledging his own work and the type of films he has been making since The Fighter and that he was “grateful to tell the stories of salt-of-the-earth people who become extraordinary.” It was these kinds of character who stories needed to be told and whose stories he had felt inspired to bring to life. This was a theme that the director often referred back to throughout this lecture.
I'm very grateful to tell the stories of salt-of-the-earth people who become extraordinary.
O. Russell’s own cinematic journey began when he was very young and he talked about his lecture’s namesake, David Lean, as an early influencer. The director first saw Lean’s adaptation of the Charles Dickens novel Great Expectations when he was seven years old and it is a film which stayed with him throughout his formative years. The set on which O. Russell stood reflected this, a fitting vision of Miss Havisham’s lair.
The director spoke about his personal reasoning for making Silver Linings Playbook, citing his son’s diagnosis and the importance of recognising mental health as a reason for making the film: “I would never have done it has I not had a connection.”
"I never would have done it had I not had a connection" - the director on his family connection with mental health #silverliningsplaybook— BAFTA Guru (@BAFTAGuru) December 19, 2015
O. Russell has a cast of actors he works with regularly, including Jennifer Lawrence. He spoke of one of his first encounters with the actress who, upon auditioning for The Silver Linings Playbook over Skype, amazed both himself and his producers: “she was timeless.”
O. Russell noted that his other regular collaborators such as Bradley Cooper, Christian Bale and Amy Adams often inspire him and his work. When questioned about working with such brilliant talent, O. Russell commented on his position and guiding influence as a director saying "great talent doesn't just show up."
Great talent doesn't just show up.
The director's recurring theme of ordinary but extraordinary people is perhaps most evident in his most recent project Joy. Commenting on her strength and resilience through tough times in her life and career, O. Russell stated that Joy is a woman whose own personal strength was an asset and that she was willing to forgive those around her: "strength is large enough to be forgiving."
It was this strength that O. Russell finished his lecture on, and on finding the faith in yourself, film and in life: "Any worthy endeavour will make you think you're not gonna make it."
Any worthy endeavour will make you think you're not gonna make it.