Q: After taking the time to adapt it, where where did the inspiration come to have Bradley Cooper as Pat?
Over the five years, all sorts of fortuitous things happened. Part of it was the time to keep rewriting it, part of it was Robert De Niro and I saying ‘Why aren’t you playing this role?’ and rewriting it for him, and then Jennifer was cast with Bradley Cooper because she and I, over that time, had a few meals together and I got a sense of him, as a person. And so I would compare how I felt about Amy Adams. I had a couple of meals with her before we made ‘The Fighter’ and she was more baffled that I had created [a] bigger role for her and that I thought she could do it because she was the princess from ‘Enchanted.’ I knew she would be really hungry to do it. It was similar with Bradley. I don’t think people understand how the depth of his emotion as an actor. So that completely lined up with the character. The character literally reintroduces himself to the community running around in a garbage bag, going back to where he used to work and where he used to live and saying ‘Hi, you know, I’m back here.’ That, I felt, completely was the same as Bradley as an actor coming forward and saying ‘Look you think you know me, but I want to reintroduce myself and I don’t think you understand who I am.’ That was a great struck of fortune. [Then there was] Jennifer Lawrence, who was in high school five years ago.
I did not see them together until they had a phone call together. They had a couple calls where they really clicked on the phone. They spoke on the phone for a very long time, [and] then I Skyped my audition with her. That was my first time I ever did that and she dressed up in character for the role and stole it right at the last second from three other very big actresses, who were vying very seriously for the role. For me, creating a very, very emotional and rich women characters has become a great discovery in this period of films. In the last one, in this one, and the next one as well. Amy will be back for the next one and I’m very grateful about that.
Q: Jennifer is so good in the film you forget how old she actually is, especially in relation to Bradley. When you were working on the adaptation was her character supposed to be late 20s or 30s? What had you envisioned her character’s age being?
Well, that was my main question because I didn’t know that she could do it because I’d only seen her in ‘Winter’s Bone.’ I thought she was terrific. I didn’t know much else about her. I would see her at awards events because she was on the circuit with ‘Winter’s Bone’ when I was there with ‘Fighter,’ as was Jackie Weaver. And so I kind of scouted them both from that season. I would see Jackie Weaver and I loved her in ‘Animal Kingdom’ and I would see her at the events. I had the same reaction when I would see both of them at these events: I never recognized them. They just weren’t recognizable to me from the roles they had played. I would say, ‘Who’s that tall blonde like dressed up like that?’ “Who is that?’ And they would go, ‘That’s Jennifer Lawrence.’ And I’d always have the same reaction, ‘That’s Jennifer Lawrence?’ I never understood, and same thing with Jackie.