Robert De Niro became surprising emotional while discussing his acclaimed new romance comedy-drama, ‘Silver Linings Playbook,’ with Katie Couric. While talking about the film with the television journalist on her ABC talk show, ‘Katie,’ the actor started crying when he mentioned how personally invested writer-director David O. Russell is in the film’s subject. De Niro, who is nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor this year for his portrayal of Pat Solitano Sr. in the movie, also siad that he doesn’t like to be emotional. But he added that he knows the movie shows the filmmaker’s experience with his son, Matthew, who has a mood disorder.
Also speaking of De Niro’s sentiments, Russell said he also became emotional about ‘Silver Lining Playbook’s subject matter when he first showed the actor the screenplay in his apartment. The director added that everyone knows people who suffer from the same emotional experiences that are featured in the movie, and are easily touched by them.
The Oscar-nominated filmmaker also said it was a surprise to see De Niro become emotional while filming the scene when Pat tells his son, played by Bradley Cooper, that he wants him to get back on his feet. Russell watched the actor cry for 10 minutes during shooting, as he knew he truly connected with the material. The director didn’t write that Pat Sr. would cry during the scene, or even discuss the possibility with De Niro, but felt it was touching.
Cooper added that Russell’s experience with his son influenced every way he played Pat. The actor, who was nominated for the Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of Pat Jr., understood how personal the is for the helmer. Cooper also revealed that people close to him suffer from emotional issues, as well.
While the film’s story is personally close to him and his family, Russell said he had Matthew audition for the role of Ricky D’Angelo, the Solitanos’ nosy teenager neighbor. Since the director and his family understand the Solitanos’ struggles going to public places, such as restaurants and schools, he was happy Matthew was able to a character different than himself.
Russell joked that the family problems the Solitanos were facing always seem to occur in the middle of the night in real life. Since Pat Sr. wants to protect his son from Ricky’s meddling, he chased Ricky home, which made Matthew laugh during the first take. The filmmaker told his son not to laugh while shooting the scene, but Matthew responded that he felt like he was in ‘Raging Bull.’
Matthew added that he wasn’t intimidated by working with De Niro, even though his father was. De Niro also told Russell to keep the laugh in the movie; if a grown man in his pajamas was pushing a teenager, they might start laughing nervously.
Russell also mentioned that he wanted to convey the message that people with mood disorders are part of everyone’s lives. Families with members who have these issues fight every day, and he thinks the issues should be discussed. He added that everyone can learn from people who are challenged, as his son has grown his heart five times. The director added that he wants Matthew to be happy and enjoy life. Everything Russell learned from his son is in ‘Silver Linings Playbook,’ which makes it relatable to audiences.
Watch the video of De Niro, Russell and Cooper discuss ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ on ‘Katie’ below.
Written by: Karen Benardello