"If Oscar nominations aren't a big deal to you, I think you're in the wrong business," "American Hustle" writer-director David O. Russell told TheWrap on Thursday, after his film received 10 noms to tie with "Gravity" as the most-nominated film of 2013.
"I know that some people say they don't mean much, but that's not how I feel."
The 10 nods for Russell's Abscam-inspired story of a haywire FBI sting operation included all four of his main actors: Christian Bale and Amy Adams in the lead categories, Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence in supporting.
Also read: Oscar Nominations: The Complete List
They tie Russell with William Wyler as the director who's had the most acting nominations in two consecutive films - but when you throw in the three noms for "The Fighter" three years ago, it gives Russell a remarkable and record-setting 11 acting nominations in three consecutive films.
According to the Academy, no previous director has had more than 10 acting nominations for three consecutive films.
"I'm over the moon about my actors being nominated, beyond happy," said Russell. "Every one of them took enormous risks, playing characters unlike anybody they'd played before. They put passion and heart into this crazy movie we were making, which was about this world of Americans struggling to be alive."
But Russell admitted that he too was challenged by the sprawling film, part character study, part topical drama and part broad comedy.
"There were bigger risks in it for me, a bigger canvas," he said. "I was working in different worlds than I'd ever dealt with, and trying to make it alive and exhilarating.
"I'd be on the set thinking, This moment is magic. But then I'd get in the editing room with a few people, look at the footage and say, 'I think that's good, but I hope we're not the only five people who think that.'"
The night before the nominations, Russell added, he sent emails to his cast and crew. "I wrote everybody to say, 'Thank you for the beautiful work,'" he said. "I thought it was the right time to tell everybody how grateful I was to them, no matter what happened this morning.
"You try to expect nothing, because anything can happen."