5 Things You Might Not Have Known about American Hustle

Written and directed by David O. Russell, American Hustle (2013) is an Oscar-nominated crime drama that tells the story of Irving Rosenfeld and his partner Sydney Prosser as they work for unpredictable FBI agent Richie DiMaso. The plot, loosely based on a true story, involves the New Jersey mafia as well as power brokers such as Mayor Carmine Polito. The following are five facts you might not know about the film and its production.

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1. It’s Based on the Real-Life ABSCAM Scandal

The real-life story upon which American Hustle is loosely based is the FBI high-level sting operation known as ABSCAM. The investigation received this name in recognition of Abdul Enterprises, or AB(dul)SCAM, the fake company the FBI established in the late 1970s to catch criminals dealing in stolen art.

2. The Cast Has Worked with Russell before

Russell has directed seven feature films including I Heart Huckabees, The Fighter, and Silver Linings Playbook. American Hustle brings together many of the actors with whom he had previously worked. Christian Bale and Amy Adams, who play Rosenfeld and Prosser, were both in The Fighter, while Bradley Cooper (DiMaso) and Jennifer Lawrence (Rosalyn Rosenfeld) were the romantic leads in Silver Linings Playbook.

3. Russell Cast the Actors against Type

Although he clearly found success with the four main stars of American Hustle in prior roles, Russell had Bale, Cooper, and Adams, in particular, play against their perceived character type. To start, Bale gained 50 pounds for the role and wore a fake combover as well as excessive chest hair to play the sleazy Rosenfeld character. Cooper, who was once named Sexiest Man Alive, had the idea to put his hair in a perm, ultimately for comedic effect. Adams, prone to playing good-girl roles in the past, plays more of a seductive and sultry character.

4. It Features an Uncredited Role by a Big-Name Star

Robert De Niro is one of the most recognizable actors in Hollywood, but his name is nowhere to be found in the film’s credits despite the fact he played the role of mobster Victor Tellegio. According to Russell, the Oscar-winning actor signed on because of his interest in the unique role. Moreover, De Niro had just worked with Russell in Silver Linings Playbook.

5. There Was Emphasis on Improvisation

Russell is on record as saying he wasn’t trying to make a historical drama and instead wanted to tell the most captivating story with elements of truth and fiction. He also placed substantially more emphasis on crafting the characters themselves than the dialogue, much of which is improvised.

Jeff Sica is a regular guest on Fox Business and has also provided commentary for CNBC and Bloomberg.