Who inspired your character in JOY?
Bradley Cooper : Neil Walker is drawn from three distinct people that Joy Mangano has met in her lifetime. We wanted this man to reflect Joy’s story. So the character grew up in Detroit, he was an athlete who drifted into business. He became a buyer for the Kmart store, then headed seven of its subsidiaries. The businessman Barry Diller (former President of Twentieth Century Fox, editor’s note), gives him the opportunity to go to Pennsylvania and create a tété-buy chain there, which he does with immense success. . Much like Joy, Neil has a different way of thinking. He doesn’t look like anyone around him in the office. He dresses like an old ice hockey coach, equal to himself. He’s the kind of guy who excels when he’s under pressure, it soothes him.
Why is he giving Joy a chance?
Her journey is a bit similar to Joy’s, so he identifies with her a bit. He has a very practical side and he feels that his invention, this self-wringing mop, is ingenious. He watches her demonstrate it and he admires it. As a businessman, he sees the potential of this broom, which he considers enormous, and he therefore acts logically. He doesn’t stick to the rules of the business. It takes people like that in life to say “Come on, I’ll give you a helping hand”. Barry Diller acted in this unexpected way too when he left Twentieth Century Fox for teleshopping giant QVC. People wondered what he was doing and yet he ended up far ahead of the yield curves.
Who are the people who have helped and inspired you in your career?
There were so many! JJ Abrams, David O. Russell, Harvey Weinstein, Robert De Niro, Clint Eastwood…
In your opinion, are there enough great female roles like Joy?
I am a storyteller. I love to be involved in stories of men and women that fascinate. In the early days of cinema, Marlene Dietrich was central to the narrative of the films in which she played. I had the chance to work in films where the female characters were strong and complicated, women who should not be underestimated. I started my career with television in the series Alias (2001-2006) by JJ Abrams, whose protagonist is a woman played by Jennifer Garner, so I made my debut in a setting where the woman was in the foreground. .
Joy is an excellent model because she does not depend on any man …
That is true. She says “I don’t need a prince” at the beginning of the film. It’s a big message, which counts. The movie Frozen is based on this same message.
Do you think that nowadays children are educated differently, in equal opportunities?
There is still misogyny today. We cannot deny the fact that we grew up in a patriarchal society and that we are no exception. That being said, I was brought up in a family where everyone stood on their own feet, and stood up for their point of view at the table. We always had discussions about everything during our dinners, and I loved it. It has contributed to my way of thinking, speaking and articulating and I owe it to the strong character of my father, mother and sister. So there was never a male / female disparity at home.
Have you always wanted to play?
I’ve wanted it since I was 12 years old. I didn’t do anything for it, but I always knew it was what I wanted to do, after seeing the movie Elephant Man (1980, with John Hurt and Anthony Hopkins). It was like that.
What other films and actors inspired you as a child?
There have been many, for example all of Martin Scorsese’s films with Robert De Niro. I loved the Francis Ford Coppola films and as for the English films Albert Finney and Tom Courtenay. They were fantastic, movies like Shoot The Moon (1982), Below the Volcano (1984) and L’Habilleur (1983).
Did you have the intuition or the feeling that an acting career could emerge?
Let’s say that there is surely something very buried, deep within me, which gave me the means, the impetus, to succeed in pursuing this profession. It is necessary to believe in yourself intimately, but this conviction does not come without its share of doubts. Joy Mangano crosses these doubts too and her dream remains dormant for 17 years. But she realizes that success means keeping moving forward. She didn’t stop at the steam mop. She followed up with the invention of the non-slip hanger, her biggest success in fact. She was not the woman of a single victory.
What support did you have for your career when you started out?
In my family, no one knew any actors, nor anyone in the film industry. It was a world apart, miles from mine. I had a doorman job when I was in college, I happened to drive Leonardo Di Caprio to his room, so being an actor was a whole foreign world to me, and yet I thought about it . It fascinated me in a way. Honestly, when I was 12 I had a real click, it seemed like that was what I had to do, but realizing that it was not yet the time.
I guess you plan to go behind the camera? We imagine that you learned a lot from David O. Russell in terms of directing?
Yes, with a little luck I will move on to directing, we’ll see. I learned a lot from David about storytelling, directing the cast and crew, editing and how to make a movie. I feel that I had an excellent training alongside him.
Interview by Elaine Lipworth for marieclaire.fr.
To go further: 5 good reasons to go see Joy at the cinema