NEW YORK - While shooting in Boston, David O. Russell found his film "American Hustle" caught up in the Boston Marathon bombing.
When the city was essentially shut down for the manhunt for suspect Dzokhar Tsarnaev in April, the production — which had been shooting in the area — had to be stopped for a day. The experience, Russell says, was felt closely by the filmmaking crew and actors.
"It was hanging over us the whole time," Russell said in a recent interview.
"You just end up feeling the emotion and the strength of the community around you," said the director. "It just makes you more human, really, because you end up having a very human connection with, literally, everyone around you. I mean, everyone, strangers on the street. Everybody was moved and pulled together by that tragedy."
Russell, a New York native, has become increasingly identified with Massachusetts. A graduate of Amherst College, he memorably shot his Oscar-winning "The Fighter" on location in Lowell.
"American Hustle" is a fictionalized version of the Abscam sting operation conducted by the FBI in the late 1970s. The investigation was aided by a convicted con artist (played by Christian Bale in the film) and led to convictions related to bribery for a senator, six congressmen and other politicians.
Though the film largely takes place in New Jersey, Russell shot it around Massachusetts, including stops in Worcester, Medford and Salem.
"There are places there that you can't find in the New York area that are untouched from the '70s," Russell said. "There are parts of Massachusetts — Medford and Worcester — that haven't really changed since the late '70s."
The explosions on April 15 at the finish line of the Boston Marathon killed three people and injured more than 260. Tsarnaev has pleaded not guilty to a 30-count federal indictment that includes charges of using a weapon of mass destruction.
Before shooting resumed for "American Hustle" in Boston, actors from the film, including Bradley Cooper, visited victims in the hospital.
"When you're telling a story that's full of intensity and emotion, you put it into the movie," said Russell, who last directed the acclaimed self-renewal comedy "Silver Linings Playbook." ''You put all that heart into it. There's a lot of heart in Boston. I love having a lot of heart in my movies."
"American Hustle," which also stars Amy Adams, Jennifer Lawrence and Jeremy Renner, opens Dec. 18.