Having already receiving glowing reviews on its release, David O. Russell’s latest movie Joy, which sees Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper reunite on screen for a fourth time, is out in the UK on New Year’s Day. The director himself spoke exclusively to Contactmusic ahead of its release.

Telling the story of a family across four generations, Joy centres on a woman who becomes a respected business leader and matriarch. Asked what attracted him to the story in the first place, Russell replied:

“There was the ambition of telling a lifespan, from telling the story of someone from when they were a girl, 10 years old, to the time 35 years later when she’s 45 years old. We thought to begin with ‘what is the magic of a child?’ And I think all children, but some especially, have access to a certain magic, and that was very exciting to me, and to Jennifer and to the child actress Isabella Cramp [who plays the young Joy]… to tell the story of a whole girl and woman’s life, from when she’s 10, to when she’s 18, to when she’s 25, married, 27 and divorced, now a single mother of two and working at an airline customer service desk, which was based on truth, to when she’s lost and broke.”

David O. RussellDavid O. Russell at the U.S. premiere of 'Joy'

About the women he used for inspiration, Russell said that it was based on a true story but blended with a composite of other characters. “At least half the movie is based on Joy Mangano, and the other half is based on daring women I’ve known of and read about for many years… …it was all about their spirits, and starting things out in their homes and wanting to break a new path for themselves and their families.”

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It’s the third time that Russell has worked with Jennifer Lawrence on a movie – the first two being Silver Linings Playbook (2012) and American Hustle (2013), both of which won Oscars. Asked what the enduring attraction was to working with Lawrence, he admitted: “She has a huge heart, and she also has a wildly creative spirit as an artist. She’s someone who can express numerous worlds that amuse her, and there’s something wild about that, something unplanned and unexpected. That is the privilege of getting to talk to her about any story.”

Jennifer LawrenceJennifer Lawrence plays the lead role in 'Joy'

About Lawrence’s character, he said: “You see this in a lot of families, where there’s one or two people, maybe more, who have this magic. Joy has this, but she has a sister who tends to be not as resilient or happy, and not as inventive. She’s dazzled by her sister’s work, but is also baffled as to why this magic exists. The real question for Joy is how to remain true to herself. How does anyone remain true to themselves? How do you keep that heartbeat?”

On the wider subject of feminism, Russell said: “I do believe that women, in many respects, are stronger than men in ways that are hard to understand sometimes. That’s what makes it beautiful, because of the tenderness, and… …mysterious things that are magnificent, to me. These women, in this movie, I loved every single one of them.”

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