David O. Russell is famous for a few things: Being a pretty good director, getting Jennifer Lawrence her Oscar, and, most importantly, being a huge piece of shit. He’s cruel to people on his sets, he’s gotten into physical altercations before, and by his own admission he groped his niece and then blamed her for it.
But he’s got a new movie coming out called Amsterdam, and there are a lot of famous people in it! Is a cast with Margot Robbie, Christian Bale, John David Washington, Robert De Niro, and Taylor Swift enough to clean up his image? Well, let’s take a look at some of his greatest hits, and then you can decide.
1999: Fighting with George Clooney
Clooney starred in Russell’s 1999 movie Three Kings while simultaneously shooting ER. According to producer Charles Roven, tensions regularly ran high on the set, with Clooney forgetting lines and Russell going over schedule. One day, Clooney saw Russell yelling at a crewmember (Roven claims he was “yelling to be heard”) and the actor decided enough was enough.
According to Roven, Clooney stormed up to Russell and said, “I told you, motherfucker, if you’re going to pick on somebody, pick on me.”
To which Russell responded, “Why don’t you just f—ing remember your lines for once?”
And then they were “tussling.” Clooney would go on to tell Playboy that Russell “yelled and screamed at people all day, from day one.”
2004: Berating Lily Tomlin
If you were conscious in 2004, you remember this footage from behind the scenes of I Heart Huckabees. Russell called screen legend Lily Tomlin a cunt! He also kicked a trash can. Tomlin, for her part, stays very calm even when telling him to “fuck [his] whole movie.”
2011: Assaulting His Niece
Russell’s 19-year-old transgender niece Nicole Peloquin filed a police report in 2011 claiming that the director had groped her while they were working out in a Florida gym. According to her, he offered to help her with ab exercises and then, following a discussion about hormones, he ended up touching her breasts. He admitted to doing it, but he had a good reason for doing so, saying that she was "acting very provocative toward him" and that he was “curious about the breast enhancement." No charges were filed.
2013: Bringing Amy Adams to Tears
In the great Sony hack of 2014, emails were leaked wherein journalist Jonathan Alter described some of Russell’s behavior on the set of American Hustle:
“He grabbed one guy by the collar, cursed out people repeatedly in front of others and so abused Amy Adams that Christian Bale got in his face and told him to stop acting like an asshole.”
Adams confirmed that Russell made her cry to British GQ in 2016, saying, “He was hard on me, that's for sure. It was a lot… I was really just devastated on set."
2015: Releasing the Movie Joy
This one is not a physical assault or verbal degradation targeting a specific person, but man was that movie bad. Why would he do this to his muse Jennifer Lawrence if not to harm both her and us?
So, with all of that in mind, do you want to see Amsterdam? On the one hand, he’s a real-life villain, on the other hand, Mike Meyers and Michael Shannon are sharing the screen for the first time. It’s a real toss-up.