Few film ensembles have been as impressive as the cast of David O. Russell's American Hustle, which tells a story of low-level con men, crime and politics in 1970s New Jersey. What's most astonishing about this all-star cast is how different their roles are from the types they usually play. Just how far are Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, Christian Bale and Jeremy Renner in this film from their usual roles? It's night and day.
In the Dark Knight trilogy, Christian Bale played Bruce Wayne/Batman. As the Caped Crusader, Bale was a chiseled, tough and brooding superhero, at the peak of physical perfection. His transformation into Irving Rosenfeld in American Hustle is shocking. With messy hair, sleazy beard and paunchy belly, his unkempt but effective con artist Irving Rosenfeld is about as far from the Dark Knight as you could possibly imagine.
Oscar winner J-Law lit the box office on fire with the Hunger Games movies, earning rave notices from fans and critics. But don't think she'll get typecast as a steely, tough badass. In American Hustle, Lawrence plays Rosalyn Rosenfeld, Irving's floozy Long Island wife. With projects like this, Lawrence is proving that she can take on complex and less romantic roles with the best of 'em.
Cooper usually plays wise-ass and generally unstable. Silver Linings Playbook got him an Oscar nod for his Pat, a troubled, bipolar man saved through love (and dance). Cooper takes a big step away from his usual type inAmerican Hustle. Here he's low-level FBI agent Richie DiMaso, who recruits the Rosenfelds to assist in a sting to advance his career. He is a figure of authority among crooks and losers, characters that Cooper would normally portray.
Jeremy Renner looks like a guy who could beat the stuffing out of you, so no surprise he's cast as an action hero. Or, as in The Avengers, asuperhero. American Hustle gives Renner a chance to try something different. He plays Carmine Polito, the good-natured but possibly corrupt mayor of Camden, NJ. Seeing an epically pompadoured Renner behind a desk instead of a bow and arrow will come as a shock for some, but we know he's got the chops.
It's impossible to not love Amy Adams, who established herself as America's sweetheart as Giselle in Enchanted. But under her bubbly, positive exterior lurks an actress of amazing power and range. In American Hustle, Adams plays Sydney Prosser, Irving Rosenfeld's blue-collar-ingénue partner in crime. It all makes sense, really: what is an actor or actress if not a highly paid con artist?