If you smelled suspicious fumes near Central Park South on the morning of May 18, blame David O. Russell. That’s where the director was shooting American Hustle, his seventies-set thriller about the real-life Abscam congressional-corruption scandal, starring a flammably coiffed cast that includes Amy Adams, Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, and Jeremy Renner. “There was so much hairspray,” says photographer Mark Peterson, who braved the haze for New York. “After every take, stylists would descend with hair picks. But the hair wasn’t moving, not even in the wind. Jeremy Renner’s head looked like a bird had landed on it and had kids.”
The mood on the set was celebratory, both because of the content of the scenes (“Christian Bale and Amy Adams danced down Park Avenue,” says Peterson. “It looked like they were doing a hustle”) and because it seemed to be the final day of the shoot; after “cut” was called, actors were applauded for their work on the movie. “When Bradley Cooper finished his scene, he yelled, ‘That’s a wrap!’ ” says Peterson. “And then he picked up Russell and danced around with him.”
Not everybody was happy, though. During a break, across the street from the Plaza Hotel, where Renner and Bale were shooting a scene together, Bale’s 8-year-old daughter, Emmeline, caught a glimpse of her father in full wardrobe. “She was laughing at his suit and comb-over,” says Peterson. “But when she saw the cigar in his hand, she scowled. He had to tell her, ‘It’s just for the movie!’ ”
*This article originally appeared in the June 3, 2013 issue of New York Magazine.