David O. Russell is one of the more controversial filmmakers working today. Even when you take out the allegations of abuse in his personal life and you just look at his work career, there are recorded instances and interviews from colleagues that seem to point to the fact that Russell can be a bit more difficult to work with sometimes. And while Julia Stiles doesn’t go into incredibly detail in her new interview with The AV Club, the actress does explain what his abrasive directing style taught her during their time working together.
For those not aware, Stiles worked with Russell during “Silver Linings Playbook,” the acclaimed film that was nominated for eight Oscars and took home one for Best Actress (Jennifer Lawrence). But according to Stiles, the director’s style taught her a lot of lessons, for better or worse.
“The first thing that comes to mind is ‘Silver Linings Playbook,’” revealed Stiles. “I don’t really want to get into David O. Russell as a director, but I learned a lot about acting, for better or worse, in terms of how he treats people on set. I’m not condoning that, but I learned a lot from him because he constantly talks throughout your take.”
She continued, “He’s talking at you while you’re acting or trying to act. It’s very jarring, but it got me out of my own head. I had no time to censor myself or be really self-conscious because he’s barking at you and you have to obey or listen. As jarring as it is, it got me to not think so much as an actress, I guess. It got me out of my own head.”
This interview seems to continue to paint the picture of David O. Russell as the type of director that doesn’t hold back when he deals with actors. Of course, we are all probably well aware of the behind-the-scenes videos that surfaced years ago showing him yelling at actress Lily Tomlin. However, during the filming of “American Hustle,” actress Amy Adams recalled to GQ that he made her cry “most days” and said, “He was hard on me, that’s for sure. It was a lot.”
Regardless of his directing style, Russell doesn’t have trouble nabbing big names for his projects. It probably doesn’t hurt that just about every film he makes in recent years finds itself smack dab in the middle of the Oscars conversation. But for his upcoming film, he’s already signed John David Washington, Margot Robbie, Michael B. Jordan, and Christian Bale (who has worked with Russell previously).
Here are some of the aforementioned behind-the-scenes videos of the outbursts featuring Lily Tomlin from “I Heart Huckabees”: