For my final post this year, I would like to share a “behind the scenes” look at “American Hustle”.
When I received the call from “Boston Casting” advising me they wanted me to play a Camden teenager on the set of “American Hustle”, I was thrilled. When the day arrived I discovered that being on the set was like being transported back to a time where my mother was my age (18). It was a cultural shock to say the least where there were no cell phones, cars were big and clunky and all the guys had curly hair. African Americans all had bigger then life hair – Afros they were called. My mother was on the set the same day that I was and although we had separate scenes, she helped me to understand the culture of the 70’s and why it was a cool time to be a teenager.
For example, when I voiced my concern about the about the jean jumpsuit wardrobe had assigned to me as I initially thought it be very unfashionable, Mom laughed and talked about how much she rocked the same type of outfit back in the day. My hair is long with a slight wave to it and I generally wear it down so when the hair people pulled it up tight to a neat little bun, it certainly generated a very unique look that I was not used to. After Hair, Wardrobe and Makeup were finished, I looked at my reflection in the mirror and saw the transformation to a 1970 teenager. I was curious to understand more about the era questions about the 1970’s so I could better understand the character I was to play.
Some of the more shocking points of information were:
1. The cool phone of the day was a “princess” phone (preferably a wall unit)
2. Microwaves and calculators were just being introduced
3. The first proto-type computer was a strange large unit that took up an entire wall (My grandfather was a Navy Officer and had brought my Mom to the base where they lived in Coronado, CA). Most people hadn’t even heard of computers.
By the time I was called for my scene, I was excited to see the set and hoped that it was true to the seventies. Needless to say, I was not disappointed. The set was simply amazing – and as the filming began, I submerged myself into character. I became the 1970’s teen that my Mom was 35 years ago. We were on the streets of Worcester, MA where a lot of the architecture of the shops and surroundings has remained the same for several decades creating a unique ambience. My role was to be a pedestrian. I was paired up with a woman and I was to play her daughter for the scene. We slowly walked up and down the sidewalk and conversed. Because we were not principles in the scene when we talk, we really just lip sync. A few of my fellow acting friends were there that day so it was fun sharing the set with them. Also – Jeremy Renner was in the scene and although we aren’t allowed to talk to the actors (because they are busy working as well), he made a point to come over and say hello which was very cool. It was one of the best sets I have ever worked on witnessing the amazing Director David O. Russell and his assistant Shelly was inspirational. Mr. Russell was flowing with creativity, and Shelly ran tight controls on the crew so everyone met Mr. Russell’s expectations. Mr. Russell was very personable and friendly and it was clear to me that he had a vision of what was necessary for each scene.
My day on the set ended far too soon and although I was happy to put my modern day outfit back on, the experience of being a teen in the 70’s, will always be with me. It is rare that people have a chance to live in another era and thanks to the magic of moviemaking, I was granted that opportunity. I am extremely grateful for my day on the set of “American Hustle’ as it opened my mind to a time period long gone but now, thanks to my day on the set, will never be forgotten.
2013 was a great year and I am looking forward to an equally exciting 2014.
Happy New Year !