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Jacki Weaver, Looking For Oscar Gold With 'Silver Linings'

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To put it simply, Silver Linings Playbook, which is nominated for a handful of Oscars, is a romantic comedy about mental illness.

We peer into the life of one Philadelphia family with a son whose bipolar disorder has led him to some very troublesome outbursts — and a father, meanwhile, who lives in denial of his own untreated obsessive-compulsive disorder and gambling addiction. And when arguments break out, the mother, Dolores, has to keep things together.

Australian-born actress Jacki Weaver plays Dolores — with a convincing Philly accent — in the film, and she's earned herself a nomination for Best Supporting Actress in this year's Oscars.

Weaver spoke with NPR's Rachel Martin about finding her inner Dolores, working with Robert De Niro and how it felt to film one of the film's most intense scenes.


Interview Highlights

On how she imagined Dolores

"Dolores looked to me exactly like I looked. She looked like a buxom, cuddly redhead who still cared about the way she looked, but had had her share of cares and worries."

On filming a critical scene involving a high-stakes bet

"I remember that my adrenaline was pumping so hard and my heart was pounding in my chest. It was important [for] the scene that there was a lot at stake. Because the meaning is that, if the parlay is taken on, and if they lose, they're gonna lose everything — they're gonna lose their house, their savings, everything.

"But that's the nature of compulsive gamblers, and she's desperate that they don't take the parlay. But of course the husband prevails, and they do, and then it makes the stakes even harder.

"They cleverly light the room so that the camera can go anywhere, and the camera was darting about the whole time, so we were in the moment, all of us, all the time. It was like being on stage in front of 2,000 people — you know, you just can't relax."

On acting opposite Robert De Niro

"It was wonderful. I was of course apprehensive at first, because to not just my generation but every generation, Robert De Niro is a giant. And of course to know that you're gonna play his wife is really something.

"[Director] David O. Russell kept saying to us, 'Now I want absolute familiarity between you. You are in love and have been in love for 30 years. You still make love twice a week.'...

"That was our back story. And I had to sit in my trailer the first morning and give myself a talking-to and say, 'Look, it's not Robert De Niro, it's your husband whom you love, that's who it is.'

"And luckily, Robert De Niro is such a generous actor and such a kind man, that it was no problem at all."

On what makes a second nomination so sweet

"[I was nominated] two years ago for Animal Kingdom, so I never thought I'd get a second one. But a lovely American journalist said to me, 'Your second Oscar nomination means that the first one was not a fluke.'"

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