(NEW YORK) — The real life con man and informant at the center of the FBI’s Abscam sting operation in the late 1970s said the Hollywood film American Hustle was a good movie, but he takes issue with one important aspect: actress Jennifer Lawrence.
“In the movie, the wife [Lawrence] was hotter than the girlfriend,” 89-year-old Mel Weinberg told ABC News. “I mean, it shoulda been the other way around…The mistress should always be hotter than your wife.”
Weinberg, himself portrayed by a portly and combed-over Christian Bale in the film, sat down with ABC News Chief Investigative Correspondent Brian Ross, who was the first television reporter to break the Abscam story, for a lengthy interview this week ahead of the 2014 Academy Awards this Sunday. The film is nominated for 10 Oscars, including Best Picture and, despite Weinberg’s concerns, Best Supporting Actress for Lawrence. Bale is up for Best Actor and Amy Adams, playing the fictional version of Weinberg’s wife, for Best Actress.
The film follows the true story of a massive FBI sting operation that caught politicians, including Congressmen, on video taking illegal payoffs for an assortment of favors. Weinberg, who played a key role in the operation, said that Bale’s portrayal of him was spot on.
“Christian Bale, I think, did a great job,” Weinberg said. “That’s the way I used to wear my hair, combed over. Good wind comes, it looks like a sail boat… He nailed it, in terms of what Mel Weinberg was.”
Weinberg said the film took some liberties, however, including making his FBI handler, played by Bradley Cooper, into one man when in reality the character was based on two agents combined. Weinberg also said the film was a little hard on the feds.
“They weren’t as bad as it looks in the movie,” he said.
Weinberg also said his mistress was not involved in the operation, unlike in the movie. But as portrayed in the movie, Weinberg did marry her, and together they raised his adopted son who is now a policeman. He says they have since divorced, and she is peeved about the movie.
“She didn’t like the way she was portrayed,” he said.
For Weinberg, the great American hustler himself, he’s rooting for the movie to take home the golden statue for Best Picture.
“Hopefully it means… maybe I’ll see some money,” he said.
For the con man, that’s always the point.
Tune in to “World News With David Muir” this weekend for more from Ross’ colorful interview with Weinberg and keep up on all things Oscars by CLICKING HERE.
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio
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