Christian Bale shares his very awkward first meeting with Amsterdam director David O. Russell. Boasting a stacked cast of talented actors, Amsterdam tells the story of 3 friends who are framed for murder and uncover one of the biggest conspiracies in American history. The film stars Bale as Burt, and also includes leading performances from The Wolf of Wall Street’s Margot Robbie and John David Washington, best known for starring in Christopher Nolan’s Tenet. Although not yet released to the public, initial reviews for Amsterdam have been mostly negative, with many critics taking issue with the film’s haphazard plotting.
The first trailer for Amsterdam teases the film’s somewhat wacky tone and also shows off the film’s impressive roster of supporting stars. In addition to Bale, Robbie, and Washington, Amsterdam also features performances from Chris Rock, Andrea Riseborough, Anya Taylor-Joy, Michael Shannon, Mike Myers, Taylor Swift, Timothy Olyphant, Rami Malek, Zoe Saldana, and Robert De Niro. Amsterdam marks Russell’s first feature film since 2015’s Joy, and the controversial director is also known for American Hustle, Silver Linings Playbook, The Fighter, and 1999’s Three Kings, which starred George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, and Ice Cube.
In a new interview with GQ, Christian Bale discusses his working relationship with Amsterdam director David O. Russell and reveals that the two actually had a very awkward first encounter. Bale explains that he went to audition for Three Kings and, after feeling like Russell wasn’t paying attention to his performance, directly confronted the director about it. Russell then clapped back at the actor with a reference to a specific scene from Home Alone. Check out Bale’s full comment on the meeting below:
“I did an audition for [Three Kings] where he didn’t even want me in the room. And I actually sort of insulted him. He knew who he wanted to cast for the role. But I think he was just being polite and seeing other people. So he was busy working away on a script or whatever, letting the casting director run the show. So I sat there like, ‘Oh, you’ve got nothing to say? You’re sitting there doing this strong silent thing, you’re gonna say nothing?’ And so he kind of looked at me, and there was a little fire in his eyes, and he says to me, ‘All right, you know how I want you to do it? Remember Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone?’ And he slaps his hands on his face, and does the big look, and he says, ‘That’s the feel. I want to get that feel from this reading now.'”
David O. Russell’s History Of Aggressive Behavior With Actors
Bale’s recollection of his first meeting with Russell is emblematic of the director’s interactions with a number of other stars over the years. Although Bale’s experience on Amsterdam seems to be mostly controversy-free, Clooney, for example, has gone on record about butting heads with the director on Three Kings, saying he clashed with Russell over his constant shouting and demeaning behavior towards the cast and crew. Similarly, videos leaked in 2003 showing Russell’s meltdown on the set of I Heart Huckabees in which he screamed at star Lily Tomlin.
More recently, Russell is also said to have clashed with Amy Adams on the set of 2013’s American Hustle, which reduced the actor to tears and forced Bale, who also stars in the film, to intervene. These various on-set stories of inappropriate behavior, combined with allegations of assault, make Russell a very controversial figure in Hollywood. It’s unclear whether Russell’s reputation (or the film’s negative reviews) will impact Amsterdam‘s box office potential, but Bale’s story is further evidence that working with the director often means dealing with a tense, passionate, and often combative set environment.