Director David O. Russell Talks About His Epic Fight with George Clooney

The Oscar nominated director of "American Hustle," reveals his filmmaking recipe and sets the record straight on his infamous on-set spats.
3:00 | 01/17/14

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Transcript for Director David O. Russell Talks About His Epic Fight with George Clooney
Scissors because you've got no choice you work for me. You can change in the rules don't -- balloon powered drunk but you know you wanna tell me this when we come up. I know I think we shouldn't give any you know I think that they're now icicle -- he's got -- -- to have it didn't do it. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- Because people just -- over Watergate and Vietnam -- right you can -- -- who politicians again just because you going to be a big shot and promotion. No I'm thinking day or it is going to be fantastic we're -- video surveillance on doing this from the feet up. You'll never do it properly because you get too much government attitude to these flawlessly. Eight home right -- -- -- I was -- and you don't know. That's. The somebody people in the beliefs. -- -- Hi everybody I'm Peter Travers and welcome -- popcorn where we tell you what's happening at the movies and there's a movie that's out there right now for you to -- called American hustle that's got everybody in the world and it. But the thing I'm concerned about is that it's directed and written by David O. Russell and David O. Russell is right with us now. But. Peter had no thank you. -- feeling that the world keeps saying. He's done it again American hustle. Is this great movies won the new York film critics what is best picture nominated for five billion Golden Globes all of your cast is nominated. This following the fighter and silver linings playbook to get up in the morning on the Kamerion say. I'm great. That's the kiss of death that is. That he'll have made these movies was like coming the very humbled period where it -- -- -- -- -- look over your shoulder. Be wary that you're not. Making doing that work and -- -- might have said to you when I first spoke to your you know we certainly edit room Christian Bill Bradley Cooper and we looked at each others -- I think this -- Interest thing could help we're not -- -- five people who think -- that I'd rather be that guy always than the guy who's. That's that -- Douglas and as you -- I think you gotta stay hungry and that's that would mean these pictures standard how does it feel it feels good and like a relief. Because when we did silverlight Claybrook we were kind of not on the radar as much people who know who Jennifer Lawrence was that it. Nearly three Bradley hope those poor benighted fools I think I don't happen to them and -- -- -- -- -- -- he. So there is a little more aware. Eyes on this picture -- you know which of these -- attention to -- is got to come from a place of great passion which everybody in the cast. Would you say that all the time it's one of the things whenever I read about -- -- it has been personal from NASA houses the theme of American hustle -- -- Built around the Abscam scandal -- the late 1970s -- -- that become personal for. Obvious to me. Really are crucial to the characters you know I'm never gonna just -- -- -- event and it was never about. That's campers for me dislike for the fighter was never about boxing purse or -- -- Claybrook was never. A romantic comedy which means my -- two -- or it was never about just mental illness percent it's about the people and when you approach it from those people which I fell in love with. Hold. That's that's opinion that I can put these people are all dreamers in some respects I relate to people who are dreamers. -- inventors. Black enters their reckoning with places -- come from and who wish to be -- -- all things when Jennifer Lawrence as. -- I don't like change change is very hard for me sometimes I think I'll die before a change. I can relate to that personally -- -- people who can. I've known people who have. Have. -- have to make all these adjustments and have all these dreams so I relate to that and. Personally -- think themselves to -- yes I mean that's what they're doing that's what we all do. Yes we do we're saying okay this is who I am but I wanna be that person anymore. And just -- -- set it up political. The Christian Bale -- -- this guy who is a scam artists. -- Christian Bale is playing a con artist and he explains that that's because his father. Had a glass business in the Bronx which is true this character were based it upon did. And his father did struggling get taken advantage of more aggressive -- people in business which is something I can also related to personally. And so therefore he kind of dedicated himself. To a life of he became a little cynical and -- and -- never that's never gonna happen to me. And he became -- legitimate businesses the dry cleaning its chain of stores and a glass business but he also sold stolen and forged -- but he's. Married to Jennifer alliance right -- this. Wife that he has at home with the sun -- doors to us but. This -- this piece of work class yes there -- any hooks up with Amy Adams yes and she's. -- she's different things trees -- also incentives. Yes. Yes they did met their match the -- over Duke Ellington -- is -- creation of his own elegance as well that it and they both appreciate and love him and they are that's to me everything that they have great love of that music and -- certain style of a certain. Joy of life that to me the picture couldn't be without their love of that if they were merely cynical criminals exactly. It doesn't just make says because it makes sense as to who you walk systemic I think you love all these people. Yes I don't think anybody in -- -- no matter what they do or what law they break is inhuman to you. Including Bradley Cooper who is playing the FBI. That using them in this sting operation yes these politicians taking bribes everybody's got their reasons -- Yes having his character's it's everybody's got a mother or girlfriend or wife that they that -- -- -- -- tell their dream to. And that you feel. And note that feels like if I'm Erica Bradley Cooper talked into his -- his fiancee. Going to get out of his little apartment in Brooklyn. And not just via functionary behind the desk and I'd like to do something that he feels as. Greatly just. We put in -- something from Robert Moses. -- -- he built all of -- that those freeways and parks in New York City in the Long Island and he famously went through many neighborhoods in Long Island and if you -- -- was. Vanderbilt -- go. For miles around the property but. Otherwise they would go right through the property and this was a great injustice and that. In that his family had happened his so we put -- -- -- strive for justice and Cooper's character. That it is quite sensible and then the story he -- -- the -- a little bit. What goes on and that what what goes on as far greater than what's he's even touched in the movie. -- they also have Louie CK in this movie basically his FBI superiors boss yes it's doing its. It's just you have -- -- voice of reason. Yes yes half it has -- that's at the isn't as those -- is -- kind he's an observer of human and human folly and human. Contradiction. Fantastic. Actor. And and filmmaker really and he was -- great collaborator with Bradley Cooper and -- But also. The real character he's based on is a solid. -- midwestern guy who did have those wild outer Borough. Agents. Rattle him and call him up and said let's do these things and use voice of reason and they would -- him so as Bradley to lose now. What is TU. A well directed -- how do you define that not even in your own movies but when you're just looking at other people's -- what is it. Well you know. Thank goodness for. Everybody in the world there's many different kinds of movies that just like there's many kinds of different tastes so I I respect that it's -- its taste it's very personal and different. I can only speak about the cinema that I love -- Which genuinely. Has a vision and it has that the what I call the -- effect of character. It's character emotion. It's music. And its camera movement. Those three things. In this is it would -- with a great emotional motion forward that is repulsive. And. A little breath taking and a little bit ahead of me you know and is gonna surprise me and it's that most difficult thing to -- I think because we're also Saturday we've seen so much wit every everybody's ahead of us we can yes so -- a movie can surprise. That's hard yeah do you remember what that one was when the couple movies -- -- on the did that to you. When you -- of this amazing puberty at age where everything is solidified and you're saying. Mom and dad I am going to be filmmaker. I didn't say that you never said. I was always going to be -- writer how can and then and then I came to it later and I kind of backed into but I learned by memorizing different pieces of settlement of Everett not. It's like we are saying about salons earlier I think so cinema or a song can save your life and -- it has saved mine many times you know. It's a reason for getting out of bed it's a reason for for having thinking the days not so -- you can reset yourself emotionally if I go over my head mentally. Twenty minutes of it's a wonderful life or Chinatown I memorized when he minutes of Chinatown which -- -- give back to right now that's how I taught myself to sleep with who's the investigating office -- you. Though -- I can tell you memorize this is the sequence between. When them when he goes to the orange -- -- all the way from the orange groves. Two win expose her to what is her daughter's house for voters sister's house that's an amazing twenty minutes of -- And I learned everything by memorizing it miles and -- -- sections of -- last b.'s worked. And and big sections of campers work. And of course -- follow its course as closely. When I first met you. And even if you remember that we wherever it was Tom -- in the form though we were at the Sundance film fest of spanking the monkey the very first -- I got to shake -- -- He did you did but I had made all of you and your actors who were talking and I didn't know he -- biggest movie hadn't started and it was your first that it. Instead you guys need to shut out. You have to respect for the film -- -- did not appear that this was what that watts. And then you went on -- you made forty with disaster. Free kings I heart Huckabee is. All of these things come out and yet early in -- -- you had a reputation for being difficult to work with DG yourself think he would become more. -- listen you know you have to learn from their mistakes and that's why I can be humbled to -- characters take any liability in turn into an asset. I would say two to statistically. If you take all the actors I want to it. I would say -- there was no problem there was that there were two doozies of issues that happened that. I was the first one to learn about viral Politico on the Internet. Much to my chagrin I was a Lily Tomlin penalties Lily Tomlin which you know those are private moments on the set that belonged to be private part of the creative process and I can tell you that there are ones that are spectacular not a -- that ultimately -- success -- going back to Robert Mitchum. Frank Sinatra all the way up to Polanski and Nicholson spectacular. Moments that were -- on YouTube they would have for five million hits. Roman Polanski destroying Jack Nicholson's trailer -- Michelson wouldn't come out from watching the lakers game. To the set of trying to tell you through the TV out the window of Nicholson's trailer I never did anything remotely like that but it wasn't -- -- with -- -- -- -- -- -- -- exactly that -- thought -- that -- my career -- by the -- and it hurt. So I was humbled by it. By the -- lovely -- network -- tomorrow. Georgian -- Colonia new media friendly makeup and you know happy to see him around town anytime. -- -- you move forward you know those are things past but you have to stay that way and I want the set to be a very loving environment where actors can take risks and I'm grateful. That's become you know from the people in the fighter who were nominated and did great work all the way up to American hustle and where they can come and and take a risk -- be vulnerable reactor. Which brings me as always -- and -- down to song. We -- so much before you even got it. Yes but I won and now what is that you know when I see this community watching Jennifer Lawrence saying then that these killer for me. Especially when she's wearing those cleaning gloves while she's singing to a child this. You -- you did you know you didn't know he didn't get to talk about McCartney it's all there. So I think from everything you've been saying that song is at heart and yes live and let I love everything that's -- Russell Means. I wanna make women I think it past them. I packed my way into it happened there was dancing and magic in this silver linings playbook returned never would've predicted in my or my great love for romance which I've discovered. But it's never -- cliche as far as I'm concerned if you come by it. Fresh from real real less -- for real people those things are real and that's -- -- -- -- and -- -- for. That's a -- makes me feel good every day -- it has that romance to me. That's discovered from the mosque and the difficulty so what about what about -- -- we'll talk with the -- one instance. I wanted you to take this out in all -- okay you're gonna marinate sound either now you came from there I feel were -- Yes we are that would that -- we can sit and have a slice -- -- he does it -- And there's that bond song I'm that get you again. I see that song in -- and I just need it means or -- Fearless the words to -- Sort of -- that invokes this. So pardon my desire to years. While actors who rumors. That song thing appears to be the -- antithesis. Of so let's get all the pain. And get to their refrain I messed up those last words okay when it was most of the the -- you know. -- -- -- Two. Something something if you wanna go walking there it's the future if you wanna go walking there -- the -- well. It's -- there is -- the Loveland. I understand. Memories and or -- -- and focus our own mind. -- the -- and no it was a hate who would have thought who went up this. That life is the lovely can't have a better message from -- I can see your trust you for hours my question that it would do that sells pizza we'll do that it's asked me to.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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