The Oscar-winning actress talks to the legendary interviewer about everything from pay equity (“I had it up to my f—ing eyeballs”) to her dealings with Harvey (“He had only been nice to me — except for when he wasn’t”) to where she sees herself in 20 years: “I won’t have periods anymore, that’s a bonus.”
Oprah Winfrey barely knew Jennifer Lawrence when the actress called and said she’d like to meet and then on Oct. 5 drove to see Winfrey at her Montecito, California, home. “I was excited to have lunch, and we were just like ‘girls in the garden,'” says Winfrey. “We probably talked for three and a half hours about life and fame and growing up and money and management and taking care of yourself and spirituality and philosophy. We drank rosé, and we laughed, and we talked about everything.”
Almost everything. One thing they didn’t discuss was Harvey Weinstein, whose history of harassment and assault exploded into view that day, when The New York Times first detailed it. But Weinstein became a focal point of the two women’s conversation a few weeks later, when THR asked Winfrey, 63, to interview Lawrence for this Women in Entertainment issue. That was shortly before the 27-year-old actress was to receive the Sherry Lansing Leadership Award at THR’s annual Power 100 breakfast, an award Winfrey received in 2013.
Since their first meeting, the new friends have been texting back and forth. “I sent her a copy of Wisdom of Sundays and, before that, Power of Now and A New Earth,” notes Winfrey. “What resonates with me is that, when you are talking to her, what you’re seeing is the real thing. You’re not seeing any pretense. She’s asking all the right questions: ‘How can I be used? How can I use this moment for something bigger than myself?'”
Lawrence grew up in Louisville, Kentucky, and was propelled to fame with 2010’s Winter’s Bone. The Hunger Games made her a global superstar, along with roles in Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle and the X-Men series. But it’s not so much her stardom and four Oscar nominations (with a win for Silver Linings) that make her the perfect recipient of the Lansing award; it’s also her nonprofit endeavors. She’s been tireless in supporting Kentucky charities and those that help children in particular.
That’s one reason why Winfrey was so impressed by “how much light [Lawrence] carries. Capital L, capital Light. You can feel there’s a strong intelligence and a desire to use this moment for something greater than fame and fortune.”
OPRAH WINFREY I read this wonderful book by Elizabeth Strout [Anything Is Possible]. And in it, she was speaking about one of the characters who was so embittered and regretful, and the line she used was, “because her life did not turn out the way she had expected.” Is your life what you expected?
JENNIFER LAWRENCE When I started acting, I was totally satisfied when I was on a sitcom because I had a steady paycheck. And I was like, “Maybe I can just find a way to be on sitcoms forever.” I was totally satisfied and good. I never dreamed that I could have this kind of career.
When you dreamed the dream, what did the dream look like? I used to drive home from church with my father past rich white people’s houses — we’d be the last to leave our little church yard, and he’d be in this big, old, green Oldsmobile that I was embarrassed to be in — and I’d pick houses that I dreamed about living in, and that was a big dream for me: I’d have a house, I’d be able to pay my bills, I’d have two cars in the driveway.
I used to do that, too. I remember driving by big, beautiful houses, but I always dreamed of being there with my parents. I never imagined I’d be able to own something like that on my own. I thought for a while maybe I could be an interior designer — that was the only job I knew about because my mom was friends with an interior designer. I was mostly just focused on a family when I was little. I would have never thought I’d be so career-focused. It’s not something I knew about myself until I started becoming successful, and then I wanted to become more successful. I’d make a great movie, and then I’d want to make more great movies; I’d make money, I’d want to make more money. It was a mind-set I wasn’t ever aware I had until my early 20s.
And then, by the time you’re 27, you’ve got [an Oscar]. By the time you’ve gotten four [nominations], does it come with —