TODAY

TODAY   |  February 06, 2013

Director: ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ was ‘healing’

David O. Russell, the director of Oscar-nominated film “Silver Linings Playbook,” talks about taking inspiration from his personal life while working on the film, saying the relationship between Robert De Niro and Bradley Cooper mirrors Russell’s relationship with his own son, who suffers from mood disorders.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> it's one of the most acclaimed movies of the year, picking up eight oscar nominations and its director has a very personal connection to the movie's themes. correspondent jenna bush hager is here to explain that. good morning.

>> good morning, matt. this is a movie about two people coming together, overcoming their past and dealing with mental illness . i sat down with director david o. russell recently to hear how the film hits close to home . this is a love story .

>> what's this?

>> i thought you were doing it.

>> i thought you were doing it.

>> reporter: about dark clouds giving way to silver linings.

>> she is my friend with an f.

>> capital f.

>> for friend.

>> this is a love story writer and director david o. russell had to make.

>> five years i wanted to make the picture. i was given the book five years ago and i jumped on it.

>> do you remember how the book came into your hands?

>> sydney pollock of all these great films "the way we were." he had the book. and i said oh, wow, this would be fantastic. he said how can you get the tone right? because it's tricky. it's very disturbing material. it's uncomfortable material for people to see a family in crisis, to see someone out of control, someone struggling with moods.

>> i thought you said you had it together, you were solid!

>> i am solid. i was solid at the game.

>> reporter: the truth is, david has lived this story. his own son, matthew, has suffered from mood disorders since an early age.

>> nothing comes easily to him. that makes your heart bigger and you want to do anything as a parent in your life to make them believe in life.

>> reporter: david found working on the script therapeutic and it brought him closer to his son.

>> it was a very healing thing to have written the movie and rewritten it and rewritten it. i learned a great deal about resilience and about the relationship between the father and the son.

>> come on, dad!

>> reporter: the relationship between father and son is a common thread both on and off the screen. david 's son is in the movie, playing the neighbor working on a project on, of all things, mental illness .

>> is that an episode?

>> get out of here.

>> chasing him in his pajamas. it reckons moments of the soul when family relationships seem to happen in your pajamas at 2:00 in the morning. that's when the truth comes out.

>> look, i don't think you're crazy.

>> reporter: "silver linings playbook" is based on the book matthew quick, written the novel at a particularly low place in his life.

>> i was struggling with depression when i was writing the book. just as dancing was used to combat depression, i was writing. i hid from my students. when talking about depression now, they would say no way, he was always upbeat, his classes were enthusiastic. i think writing not only saved me in a very literal way, but it saved my marriage. i think it's made me a better person, because i did this thing that i felt i had to do, the thing that was inside of me.

>> reporter: you made a movie that has this beautiful, delicate balance, speaking about something that still is taboo, mental illness . did you want to start a conversation?

>> absolutely. we talk about diabetes, heart disease . why this isn't discussed in a regular way. i've had so many people come forward to me and say thank you, because i have an uncle, a father, a mother, a brother who has had very similar situations to the one in your film.

>> the world is hard enough as it is, guys. can't somebody say, hey, let's be positive? let's have a good ending to the story?

>> and it is, a good ending not just in the film, but also for the director and his son.

>> it's a very healing thing that i think will be a touchstone for the rest of our lives, to refer to the story that we know personally that is filled with hope and shines the light on it. you don't need to be ashamed of this. you can own it and you can heal.

>> russell's work on "silver linings playbook," his best director nomination is his second. i'm 31. the last movie was reds. did you see it?

>> i did. i saw this, too. it's terrific.

>> it is and it's great that he could put his