Inspired by real events, "American Hustle" is about what happens when an FBI agent attempts to further his career by forcing Irving and Sydney -- small-time con artists played by Adams and Christian Bale -- to help him take down other criminals in New York and New Jersey. Plunged into a world of gangsters and corrupt politicians, the likable misfits, along with Irv's loose-cannon wife Rosalyn [played by Jennifer Lawrence,] quickly discover they need to work together if they're going to make it out of their predicaments alive.
At a recent New York press conference, Adams disagreed with a journalist's assessment of Russell's films as depicting an exaggerated sense of reality.
"I feel like you exemplify reality, you don't push it," Adams told Russell, who was sitting beside her.
"You find examples within reality and you show them," she reasoned. "Not everything in reality is subtle and slow. When I lose my cool, it is over the top. In life, Amy is over the top at times. That's how we are as humans and I think David has examples in his life and we all have examples in our lives [of that...] What David really does, I feel, is exemplify reality. What he really does is find the moments in people's lives where this pushed reality as [the journalist] called it is the truth. Is the truth for these characters."
"I adore characters who are re-inventing themselves, who are the salt of the earth, who are dreamers," Russell said. "They're in a predicament and they have love. They are in romance and they have things they love in their world. They have to. That's what makes me want to do it. That's what I've come to see makes me want to make a picture. Honest heartbreak and honest dreaming."
So, what exactly is it that attracted Adams to the role of Sydney?
"I think my favorite part was playing the vulnerability of my character," she said. "She has this veneer and this physicality and this power, but if I don't ground that in any true emotion, it's not going to be too much fun to play. There won't be layers and she won't be multi-dimensional. David always makes sure his characters are multi-dimensional. ... So playing those dimensions is just a thrill as an actor."
"American Hustle" is tied with "Gravity" for a leading 10 Oscar nominations. The four leads in "American Hustle," as well as Russell, also earned individual nods.