SSN: The women in American Hustle are great characters, not just eye candy. Are you both conscious of how you write the female roles?
Singer: I don’t think in terms of gender as I do characters that are true to life, true to me, with a lot of heart and striving for something. David is really gifted at dimensionalizing all of that and bringing out this exuberance and heart in all of these characters.
Russell: I see the women as a nuclear resource. That was [part of the] reinvention of my filmmaking career, which began with The Fighter. To me, the key to that film was the women. Amy’s role—she came on to that film because I created [the role] for her. To me that was like discovering uranium. I was very overdue for it as a filmmaker.
SSN: How did that discovery affect you? Russell: It felt like an arsenal that I was very excited to go into. I love what it does to a movie. It elevates and explodes in a way I find unbelievably exhilarating. Women are powerful in ways that men are powerful, but they’re also powerful in ways that are completely different. I’m endlessly fascinated by it. I’m very conscious of wanting them to be toe-to-toe with men and even exceed them.