The rehabilitation of David O. Russell has got to be one of the most impressive rebounds in recent Hollywood history.
It was not that long ago that “Nailed” finally sputtered to a halt, unfinished, unreleasable, an albatross around the neck of its filmmaker. That was on top of the sort of low-grade non-stop barrage of “David O. Russell is an asshole” press that came out of his Clooney-spats on “Three Kings” and his YouTube moments from the set of “I Heart Huckabee’s.”
“Nailed” was a script by Kristin Gore that Russell signed on to rewrite and direct. He started shooting with a pretty great cast including James Marsden, Jessica Biel, Paul Reubens, Jake Gyllenhaal, Catherine Keener, Jon Stewart, James Brolin and more, all telling the story of a waitress with a nail lodged in her head whose personality changes send shock waves all the way into Washington, D.C. And it’s a romantic comedy.
So when that ran out of money and the film was shut down… TWICE… it would have been acceptable for anyone to assume that Russell was in movie jail. After all, isn’t that the unforgivable sin in Hollywood, to make something that you can’t do anything with? At least if you can release a movie, you can hope that maybe you can cut the right trailer or put together the right poster or somehow get your weekend out of the film at the box-office, and home video has a way of putting money in the hands of even the incompetent. But if you direct a film that can’t even complete principal photography, that’s a pretty solid black mark, especially when people are already calling you “difficult”
And yet look at Russell now. His film “The Fighter” was one of my 20 favorite movies of the year, and he was just nominated for the DGA Award for Best Director. He’s already been announced as the director of “Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune,” based on the best-selling PS3 video game, and now it looks like he may work in a comic book-adaptation called “Two Guns” before he starts shooting that globe-spanning adventure movie with star Mark Wahlberg.
I have not read “Two Guns,” but according to the Hollywood Reporter, the story is about a DEA Agent and a Naval Intelligence undercover guy who realize they are investigating one another before they team up to steal some mob money for the “right reasons.” When they realize that the mob actually got them to steal the FBI’s money instead, they have to put the situation right. Vince Vaughn may play one of the two parts for Russell, who will rewrite an earlier draft by Blake Masters. Marc Platt is producing the film, and if Russell’s going to shoot it before “Uncharted,” it sounds like this one’s going to move quickly.
I’m so pleased that he’s working non-stop right now. I’ve been an advocate since day one, and it’s about time things started swinging his way for a while.