5 things we learned from the ‘Amsterdam’ press conference
On Sunday September 18, the cast of amsterdam – Christian Bale, Margot Robbie, John David Washington, Robert De Niro, Rami Malek, Mike Myers, Michael Shannon and Andrea Riseborough – and writer/director David O. Russell sat down for a virtual press conference to answer questions about the 1930s- staging a comedy of murder mystery and its messages, and these are the five key things we learned from their discussion.
1. This was a collaborative project.
David O. Russell – best known for his multiple Academy Award nominated films The fighter, Silver Linings Playbookand american hustle – is seen as a one-man show most of the time, producing, directing, and write his films. However, amsterdam was one of the most collaborative projects he had ever worked on. During the press conference, Russell spoke of meeting Christian Bale at a restaurant “over the course of five years”, along with “other people [joining] in those years as part of the conversation” (including Bale co-star Margot Robbie) as well. Russell went on to say that “as a writer, [after] being alone for 30 years of writing, it’s nice to be able to talk about it to a friend or a colleague or a collaborator to make it grow together.
2. Christian Bale thinks this is the movie David O. Russell has “worked to make” his entire career.
Elaborating on his collaboration with Russell, Christian Bale noted that amsterdam sort of feels like the high point of Russell’s career, tying together all of the themes found in most of his films thus far. Bale specifically praised the themes of “the wisdom of knowing how to face adversity”, “absolute love for people who face pain and suffering in their lives with optimism and hope” and “not to be broken by life”. while moderator Heather Phillips noted the comparison between this film’s characters and Russell’s former protagonists, as “underdogs” who “hold back [their] resilience” throughout the most troubling times.
3. Margot Robbie has been grooming Valerie’s character throughout the pandemic, even making art like her own.
Because the coronavirus pandemic has halted their production, Margot Robbie has had more time than she has ever had in the past to prep her character in this film, Valerie Voze – a nurse with artistic ambitions. She even went so far as to make art like Valerie would at home, stating that “at one point my husband came in, and I had bits of metal and fake blood, and I had pulled out my Super 8, and I had a mask on, and I had all this crazy X-ray stuff, and he was like, ‘I think you’re taking this character too far.’ ” laughing. Plus, some of Robbie’s art even made it into the film when all was said and done.
4. John David Washington researched African Americans in World War I to better portray his character.
To better understand the state of mind of his character Harold Woodsman – a former soldier turned lawyer – John David Washington endeavored to obtain information on “what it was like for African Americans to fight for this countries” during World War I before filming, noting that “they had more freedoms [overseas] than they did in their own country”, which influenced his portrayal of Woodsman’s peace in Amsterdam as opposed to America. Washington also added that his research helped him uncover new facts about the black community’s hidden victories, including that the Amsterdam newspaper was started by a black man in Harlem.
5. amsterdam mixes fact and fiction.
David O. Russell explained how certain recorded stories – namely the “Business Plot”, a 1933 political plot on which most of the film is centered – served as the basis for his film, and that it was his “plutonium secret… to be shared as a dramatic tool. However, he – along with Bale, Robbie and Washington – then invented their own friendship with people whose lives have rarely been recorded in history to surround that story and present “the greatest freedom they’ve ever had” and the greatest “fun they’ve ever had” together.” This mix of reality and fiction allowed their creative expression to be as playful – and powerful – as possible in the final feature film.
Amsterdam opens in theaters on October 7, 2022