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Why David O. Russell Says A Diner Played A Key Role In Making Amsterdam A Reality

When we think of the screenwriting process, we tend to envision a lone writer picking away at a keyboard as they work out dialogue and scenes between characters. For his latest movie, "Amsterdam," writer and director David O. Russell took a different approach. Instead of starting with a sketch of a story in mind, he met with Christian Bale, who eventually became the leading man of "Amsterdam," to hash out a film centered on events and characters adapted from history that were unlike anything captured on screen before.

The result is a movie about three friends — Bale's Burt Berendsen, Margot Robbie's Valerie Voze, and John David Washington's Harold Woodman — caught up in extraordinary events before, during, and especially following World War I. After they meet during the war, where Valerie is the battlefield nurse who fixes up an injured Burt and Harold, the twisty story sees the trio return home only to stumble upon an insidious plot. What's even more extraordinary about the film is that a great deal of the historical events it depicts actually happened.

During the movie's global press conference, Russell described how meeting with Bale in a diner shaped the story that eventually became "Amsterdam."

'We started with a doctor'

When it came time to craft his follow-up to 2015's "Joy," David O. Russell decided to invite Christian Bale to help him develop a fresh story that they would both enjoy making. "We started with a doctor, and we started to learn from history the unusual circumstances of this doctor and his two best friends," Russell explained.

In order to craft the characters and the story around them, Russell and Bale regularly met at a local diner. "Over the course of five years, Margot joined in maybe three or four of those years, and other people joined in over those years," Russell shared.

For Russell, the approach was especially refreshing after spending most of his career writing in a room by himself. "It was fun to meet several times a week," Russell observed. "As a writer, being alone for 30 years of writing, it's nice to be able to go talk to a friend or colleague or collaborator to grow it together."

"Amsterdam" open in movie theaters on October 7.