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David O. Russell
Born David Owen Russell
August 20, 1958 (1958-08-20) (age 51)
New York City, United States
Other name(s) David O'Russell
David Russell
Occupation Director
Years active 1987–present
Spouse(s) Janet Grillo (1992-2007)

David Owen Russell (born August 20, 1958) is an American film director and screenwriter. He directed and wrote Three Kings and the existential comedy I ♥ Huckabees. Earlier films include independent films Flirting with Disaster and Spanking the Monkey, which won him the Independent Spirit Award for Best First Screenplay.


Personal life

Russell was born in New York City, New York to a Jewish father and an Italian American Catholic mother.[1] He graduated from Amherst College in 1981, majoring in political science and English. He is good friends with film directors Alexander Payne and Spike Jonze and Rabbi John Linder. Jonze played the character Conrad Vig in Three Kings.



Russell's next film, Nailed, is a political comedy co-written by Kristen Gore which stars Jessica Biel, Jake Gyllenhaal, Tracy Morgan, Catherine Keener, Paul Reubens, Josh Brolin and Kirstie Alley. Production was delayed or shut down four times for reasons ranging from on-set conflict that resulted in James Caan quitting the film to financial trouble that led IATSE to shut down production because the crew was not getting paid.[2][3] Slated for a summer 2009 release, it is still in post-production as of May 2009.[4] The movie revolves around the character of Alice Eckle (played by Jessica Biel) who gets accidentally shot in the head with a nail by a clumsy workman, eliciting wild sexual urges. The uninsured Eckle goes on a crusade to Washington to fight for the rights of the bizarrely injured. She meets an immoral congressman (Jake Gyllenhaal) who takes advantage of her sex drive and capitalizes on her crusade as Eckle heads into her own career in politics.[5]


Three Kings

In 1999, news spread of Russell and George Clooney nearly having a fistfight on the set of Three Kings. After tensions on the set had been steadily increasing, Clooney confronted Russell with the intention of defending the crew.

According to a 2000 Playboy interview[6] with George Clooney, he got into a fight with Russell on the set of Three Kings because of the way Russell was treating his crew. According to Clooney, Russell was demeaning the crew both verbally and physically. Clooney felt this was out of line and let Russell know by saying:

David, it's a big day. But you can't shove, push or humiliate people who aren't allowed to defend themselves.

Russell then taunted Clooney by saying:

Why don't you just worry about your fucked-up acting?! You're being a dick. You want to hit me? You want to hit me? Come on, pussy, hit me.

Russell then grabbed Clooney by the throat and Clooney "went nuts," pummeling Russell. Russell eventually apologized and filming continued, but Clooney describes the incident as "...the worst experience of my life."

I ♥ Huckabees

Not long after this, an altercation occurred at a Hollywood party between Russell and director Christopher Nolan.[7] During preproduction for Russell's film I ♥ Huckabees, Jude Law abandoned his commitment to the project to instead take a role in Nolan's upcoming film The Prestige.[8] Russell retaliated at a Hollywood party by headlocking Christopher Nolan while calling shocked onlookers "a shower of bitches". Almost immediately afterward, Jude Law left Nolan's project and returned to Russell's film.[7]

Russell also had conflicts with Lily Tomlin during the filming of I ♥ Huckabees, video of which has surfaced on video sites such as YouTube. [9] These conflicts were first reported in a 2004 New York Times article[7] by Sharon Waxman in which she describes him calling Tomlin "...the crudest word imaginable, in front of the actors and crew." Additionally Waxman witnessed the following which is corroborated by the leaked videos:

Mr. Russell ends his tirade by sweeping his arm across a nearby table cluttered with production paraphernalia. He storms off the set and back on again, continually shouting. Then he locks himself in his office, refusing to return.

Waxman also comments to the effect that Russell made an effort to destabilize the actors to improve their performances, a task which was not altogether opposed. The set was characterized as emotionally charged, with Russell begging nothing but his dream for the film from the actors, who were sometimes driven to their wits' end after hours of takes. The noted instance circulated on the internet was one such dramatic exchange. Shortly afterwards, Tomlin remarks that she and Russell are "fine", saying:

I'd rather have someone human and available and raw and open. Don't give me someone cold, or cut off, or someone who considers themselves dignified.





Awards and nominations


External links

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