Jennifer Lawrence didn’t just win the Oscar for Best Actress last month. She basically won the whole Oscars. (Apologies to Ben Affleck.) She charmed late-night hosts — and Academy voters — with a disarming blend of bawdy humor and compulsive oversharing in the weeks before the ceremony. She rocked the red carpets with a variety of gorgeous gowns. More importantly, she was the only nominee who arrived at the Dolby Theatre currently fronting a $400 million blockbuster franchise. Certainly, she was wonderful and deserving of the Academy Award for her performance as a dispirited young widow in The Silver Linings Playbook, but as she accepted the Oscar, there was also a palpable recognition that she is The Future: a young, beautiful indie-film queen who can also carry and sell an action franchise.
At only 22, with an Oscar and central roles in The Hunger Games and X-Men, Lawrence appears to be the right actress in the right movies at the right time. “Everyone wants to work with her, whether it’s another actor or actress or a director or a studio,” says David Glasser, COO of The Weinstein Company, which distributed Silver Linings. “I think everybody right now wants to find that great Jennifer Lawrence Project.”
After auditioning and losing the role of Twilight’s Bella to Kristen Stewart, the first great Jennifer Lawrence Project was Winter’s Bone, the gritty 2010 indie in which Lawrence played a tough Ozark teen looking after her poverty-stricken younger siblings, no thanks to her MIA dad and mentally ill mom. Appearing in virtually every scene, she dazzled critics and was nominated for her first Oscar. “There was something about her [audition] and the way she was able to convey having the burden of this family on her shoulders. It’s not even something that you can really act,” says Paul Schnee, who along with Kerry Barden, cast that Sundance film. “Knowing the demands of the role, I was [like], ‘This is the girl! This is the girl!’”
Most everyone who has ever worked with Lawrence seems to have a version of that “This is the girl!” moment. When Lionsgate announced plans to adapt Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy, Lawrence was an immediate contender for its starring role, in part due to Katniss Everdeen’s similarities to her independent, backwoods character from Winter’s Bone. But Gary Ross (Seabiscuit), who landed the plum assignment to script and direct The Hunger Games, hadn’t yet seen her in that movie. His epiphany came when he spent three days writing voiceover for Jodie Foster’s movie The Beaver, in which Lawrence played Anton Yelchin’s girlfriend.
“Just looking at the film over and over again, I just kept saying, ‘Who’s this actress?’ I just couldn’t believe the talent,” says Ross, who’s called casting Lawrence as Katniss the easiest movie decision he ever made. “It wasn’t even like a casting quote choice. I honestly felt lucky that an actress this good existed at that moment for that film. That’s how I felt. I remember saying to Lionsgate when we were casting, ‘Look, this comes along once every 10 years.’ Someone walks in the door with that kind of massive talent, it knocks you back in your chair.”
Action movies have historically been a man’s world, and Hollywood’s most successful actresses, like Julia Roberts, settled for carving out their dominion in the most lucrative genre available to their gender: romantic comedies. Twenty years ago, even when Jodie Foster stood on a similar pedestal of arthouse and multiplex success right after Silence of the Lambs, you might have been tossed out of the studio suite for pitching a $100 million franchise built around a female protagonist (Sigourney Weaver in the Alien movies was among very few exceptions). But there’s been a shift in the culture and hardly anyone blinked in 2010 when Angelina Jolie — already Lara Croft and Mrs. Smith — successfully delivered Salt, an action thriller initially conceived for Tom Cruise.
Today’s action-movie heroines are no longer damsels in distress. They’re tough (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo), brave (Brave), and as lethal with a weapon as their male counterparts (Snow White and the Huntsman). When Lawrence was cast as Katniss in 2011, she became the face not only of Collins’ dystopian-future Joan of Arc, but the new face of real girl-power at the box office. Hunger Games opened like a superhero, with a $152.5 million weekend, and went on to gross more than any movie of 2012 except The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises.
But Ross wasn’t the first one to leverage Lawrence’s talent for a huge popcorn spectacular. X-Men: First Class director Matthew Vaughn cast her to play a younger version of Mystique, the blue-skinned mutant played by Rebecca Romijn in the original films, for his 2011 preboot. Her supporting character took a backseat to mutant frenemies played by James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender, but the actress made an immediate impression on First Class producer Bryan Singer, who’s directing the sequel, Days of Future Past.
“There was a sequence they were doing with James and Mike, and I noticed that she had no trouble speaking her mind, in a fun way,” laughs Singer. “She and Matthew sort of had a back and forth about what was working and what wasn’t, and it just sort of struck me that of all the actors standing on the platform, she was among the youngest and yet she was able to be the most vocal.”
For anyone’s who’s chuckled through one of Lawrence’s freewheeling, b.s.-free interviews where she jokes about her breasts, pretends to fart, or playfully jousts with Jack Nicholson, such a tale is hardly difficult to imagine. “I don’t think Jennifer is intimidated by anything or anybody,” says Ross. “I’d be amazed if she ever had been. She’s one of the more confident people I’ve ever met in my life, but it’s earned. She has the talent to back it up.”
“Best Actress Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence was the talk of the town at Sunday night’s awards after her bumpy walk to the stage and her candid acceptance speech made headlines. But she forgot to thank two people critical to the making of Silver Linings Playbook — director David O. Russell and producer Harvey Weinstein. Below, she shares her thanks to them in a statement released to EW:”
In the whirlwind of last night, I was remiss to thank two incredibly important people to this film and in my life.
David O. Russell: Thank you for the most incredible experience of my life. Thank you for your genius, for your guidance, for teaching me things about myself and nurturing me to be a better actor. You have so much passion and such a bleeding heart, you believe not only in your films but what your films can do for people and that is the most important thing that I have learned from you.
Harvey Weinstein: You championed this movie and its story from early days. Your passion and unyielding support gave this film the opportunity to thrive and touch so many people.
Thank you to both. I will never be able to forgive myself for such a brain fart but I hope that you both can. Obviously it was not on purpose, I couldn’t remember what I had already said and my mind went completely blank–your brain does funny things during the most overwhelming moment of your life!
n the Monday before Thanksgiving, Jennifer Lawrence was standing nearly naked in a hotel room in Beverly Hills. “I have no modesty left,” she said as she decided what to wear for an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, followed by a taping of The Tonight Show, and in the evening, the Los Angeles premiere of her latest film, Silver Linings Playbook. She had already been to two photo shoots that day, and on one of them, a hairstylist wove dreadlocks into her long, naturally blonde hair, which had been dyed brown for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, the second installment of the grimly futuristic trilogy.
The first Hunger Games, which came out in 2012, grossed almost $700 million worldwide and made Lawrence, who plays the intrepid teenage warrior Katniss Everdeen, an international star. Between chapters 1 and 2, she filmed Silver Linings, a dark romantic comedy. “I like that my character knows that she’s crazy—and accepts it,” Lawrence told me. “She says, ‘Keep being weird! Just be proud of it.’ ”
Although she’s not remotely cuckoo, Lawrence, 22, is stubbornly, wonderfully true to herself, and that self is not constrained by Hollywood’s usual rules of conformity. For instance, while she is a newly named face of Christian Dior, Lawrence loves to eat and is, as she bluntly puts it, “fat, by Hollywood’s standards.” And even though her fame has escalated rapidly, Lawrence still lives in the modest condo in Santa Monica she moved into in 2006, when she was 16 and playing the rebellious teenage daughter on the TBS series The Bill Engvall Show. Despite an Oscar nomination for 2010’s very serious Winter’s Bone, Lawrence can still quote Dumb and Dumber from beginning to end. She speaks her mind and is not guarded or conventional. When I asked her what superpower she would want to have, Lawrence said, “It would be horrible to read people’s thoughts. I always know when I’m being lied to, and that drives me nuts.”
Perhaps that’s the key to Lawrence’s honesty: She doesn’t want to betray her own need for the truth. “I don’t think I’m particularly brave or bold or different from anyone else,” Lawrence insisted. “I just think this is an easier way to be.” Usually, this outsize a personality is hard to subsume into a role, but Lawrence disappears into her characters. In Silver Linings, she plays a widow who has Goth tendencies, with no shred of the actress’s real-life bounding friendliness. “I am like the movie in one way: I’m superstitious,” she said, slipping into a fitted black and white tweed Dior dress. “Whenever it’s 11:11, I make all of the people around me wish that my boyfriend [the actor Nicholas Hoult] not get killed in a motorbike accident. He just bought a motorbike, and I think my ritual will keep him alive. The other night, at 11:11 p.m., I told an entire bar to say, ‘Nick will not die in a motorbike accident.’ And they did it.” I asked her if she repeated this ritual at 11:11 a.m. too. “I don’t wake up for it!” Lawrence exclaimed. “God, I hardly ever wake up before 11. I’m an artist! I need at least 18 hours a night, with catnaps.” Lawrence laughed and picked up her bag to leave for Ellen. “I’m not that crazy,” she said, half-joking. “But I am an artist.”
Some actors wilt under the pressures of Oscar season, a months-long slog that forces them to give daily interviews about the same movie over and over again. Fortunately, Jennifer Lawrence is not one of them. The Silver Linings Playbook actress and Best Actress front-runner has been hitting the social circuit hard over the past week (perhaps she’s making up for lost time, since an overlong X-Men: First Class shoot prevented Lawrence from doing much press in 2011 for her Winter’s Bone nomination), and whether she’s promoting Silver Linings on Conan, attending the annual Oscar nominees luncheon, or receiving an award at the Santa Barbara Film Festival, she’s dropping quotable bon mots right and left. Here are eight things we’ve learned about Lawrence over the past week:
She’s obsessed with Conan O’Brien:
“I’ve been watching the show for fifteen years, and I’m 22 years old,” Lawrence said to the talk-show host at the top of her Conan appearance. “I’m such a [fan]. Oh my God. The producer said to me, ‘Andy Richter’s going to hug you,’ and I started tearing up. You coming in [to my dressing room] put me at a 10, emotionally, and then her telling me that put me at a 15, and I couldn’t handle it.”
She loves John Stamos:
“He was at a party, and I turned into a perverted guy,” Lawrence told O’Brien. “I was following him into rooms and staring at his ass. I lost my mind. And I got so upset — I didn’t want to meet him, because when I meet people, it’s never good, and I was avoiding him — but then my friends brought him over because my friends are jerks, and I started really freaking out, and he asked me if I was on mushrooms, and I said, ‘No, I’m dead sober. This is just me.’”
She had a short-lived Abercrombie & Fitch modeling career in her teens:
“There’s this one picture where this girl’s just about to catch this football,” Lawrence said to O’Brien, “and behind her, I’m, like, flared nostrils, red face, my hair’s crazy and I’m midair, RAAAHH! … I thought that overnight I had just gotten really good at football, then I realized they were model footballing, and I was really playing football.”
She’s going for a high-fashion moment at the Oscars this year:
“I’m going to wear sweatpants,” Lawrence initially joked at the Oscar nominees luncheon, before adding, “Last time, [I dressed for] comfort. This year, I’m like, ‘Suck it up, wear a corset.’ I am going to go for fashion this time.” Is it difficult to pick an Oscar dress after months of wearing pretty frocks to premieres and awards shows? “That’s the problem with the Oscars: They’re always at the end where you are just exhausted from dressing up, so I never care,” said Lawrence. “Now, I will. Fashion.”
Spanx is her friend:
“Eating normally calms me down,” continued Lawrence at the Oscar luncheon. “I remember, before the  Oscars, I was wearing that skintight dress, and I ate a Philly cheesesteak and fries. I was like, ‘This is definitely going to help,’ which it didn’t, ’cause I had to double Spanx it.”
The highlight of the Oscar luncheon was …
” … Sally Field asking me to carpool to some cocktail party,” said Lawrence. “And I just invited Jacki Weaver, and I’m trying to get [Naomi] Watts. Carpooling with Sally Field. Make my dreams come true.” J-Law added that all the actresses should rent a van together for awards-circuit purposes. “And all of us just unload: [Anne] Hathaway, Watts, [Jessica] Chastain, me! Like a clown car. It’ll be a lot more fun that way, and more intense.”
She doesn’t do a whole lot of preparation for her roles:
“I never actually read my lines until I show up,” Lawrence confessed at the Santa Barbara Film Festival. “It started out as a lazy thing. And then my friend was over, and she was like, ‘What scene are you doing tomorrow?’ and I was like, ‘I don’t know. Is that bad? Is there a point in my career where I should start learning my lines for work?’ And she was like, ‘Well, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’ So, that’s that. I don’t have a way of doing anything, so I like to just mold to whatever the director likes. And I find that a lot easier to do when I don’t already have something set in my mind and I can just show up.”
What kind of movie would Lawrence like to direct, when the time comes?
“It would be like Step Brothers,” Lawrence told the SBIFF audience. “I’m serious! I saw Step Brothers and I was like, ‘Why didn’t I direct that?’”
VOGUE cover girl Jennifer Lawrence is the new face of Christian Dior. The Hunger Games actress has been hired to front the label’s Miss Dior handbag campaign, to be unveiled in magazines early spring next year, WWD reports.
The collaboration marks the first time the 22 year old has worked with a luxury fashion house, although she attended Raf Simons’ Dior couture debut in July earlier this year.
“Like everyone else, I first discovered Jennifer Lawrence in the roles she played in action movies,” said Dior creative director Raf Simons. “I was, of course, struck by her incredible on-screen presence in these blockbuster films, but also impressed by her powerful interpretations of subtler more rounded characters. Her youth and her classic beauty, but also her force of character and the complexity she’s capable of embodying at such a young age, are, for me, both unique and very moving.”
Previous Dior ambassadors have included Marion Cotillard, Mila Kunis, Natalie Portman and Charlize Theron.
“I’m very excited at the idea of working with Dior and wearing Raf Simons’ new creations,” said Lawrence. “His debut ready-to-wear and haute couture have distilled all the glamour of Dior into the modern era.”