Jennifer Lawrence rocketed to fame with her Oscar-nominated role in Winter’s Bone, which she followed up with an equally excellent performance in the recently released The Beaver. This summer sees her try her hand at a big-budget blockbuster, playing Raven Darkholme in X-Men: First Class. The shape-shifting mutant who becomes better known as the villainous Mystique, Lawrence plays her as the good girl before she turns bad, and IGN caught up with her on-set late last year to discuss the evolution of her character.
IGN: Is starring in a superhero movie an antidote to the seriousness of Winter’s Bone?
Jennifer Lawrence: I actually was thinking of it that way. Not this movie specifically, but kind of thinking about doing something a little lighter. I wouldn’t call it an antidote, but I was definitely looking forward to it.
IGN: So tell us about your character.
Lawrence: Raven, or Mystique, is a shape-shifter and when she is in her natural, blue, scaly, red-haired form she also has super-human agility. She’s young, and she’s a normal teenager dealing with insecurities, but her insecurities aren’t that normal. She’s insecure about being a mutant, but she slowly grows to accept it and evolves into herself and starts to love it.
IGN: Are her powers fully formed in the movie?
Lawrence: She’s been shape-shifting for a long time, but she’s just recently learning about her superhuman agility. She discovers that in the movie.
IGN: What’s it like to play a mutant?
Lawrence: It’s completely different, but fun. You don’t want to do the same thing every time and I do feel like I’m at the opposite end right now but I’m having a blast. It’s a fun character to play, in a fun movie. We’ve got cool sets and I’m really loving all the special effects, because it’s so different to Winter’s Bone – I’m like a kid in a candy store.
IGN: Were you aware of the X-Men franchise before the shoot?
Lawrence: I was completely and totally caught off-guard by it. Which is really stupid because it’s one of the biggest franchises in the world, so I felt like an idiot, but as soon as I signed on the dotted line, it was very exciting.
IGN: Did you then go on an X-Men crash course?
Lawrence: I watched the movies before my screen test, and for the comics I’m still getting through these two huge binders. It’s going to take me years to get through just Mystique’s parts. It’s one of those things where you don’t even know where to start. But I ask a lot of questions and I have taken a crash course which has helped.
IGN: Is it nice to play the good girl before she goes bad?
Lawrence: Of course. I love characters that evolve and stories that evolve, and that’s my favourite part about this entire film – every character goes through an evolution to get to where they are now. We know which side they are on, but with this movie we get to see why. That’s what I think is interesting – she’s not just a good girl gone bad, she’s a good girl that’s been hurt and kind of finds a resolve or comfort on this side that she really thinks is right. She doesn’t think that she’s going to the bad side or the dark side, I think that that was just what made more sense to her. Because at the end of it she realises that she can’t get rid of it. She’s tried to be normal her whole life, and this side supports and accepts her totally for who she is.
IGN: Has it been an effort putting on the full-body make-up?
Lawrence: The make-up has been taking four-to-six hours, but that’s when I’m full Mystique. Fortunately I’m in the X-suit for a lot of it so that’s just the face.
IGN: Do you have a favourite Mystique outfit in the film? Maybe that X-Suit?
Lawrence: Definitely not the X-Suit. It looks awesome but it’s the most uncomfortable thing in the world. She’s got a great turtle-neck dress that’s really cute.
IGN: What about a favourite action sequences?
Lawrence: Well originally the X-Jet, because turning around in the X-Jet is the most fun rollercoaster in the world. But we were there for about three weeks and by the end I just wanted to be out of it. But that was the most fun originally.
IGN: Any fun fight scenes?
Lawrence: Zoe [Kravitz, who plays Angel] has the best fights. She’s so much cooler – she throws up acid on people. I’m just sitting there turning into their mothers and spanking them. Only kidding.
IGN: So there has been good camaraderie on-set?
Lawrence: It couldn’t be better. I love that I can say that honestly. We all really legitimately like each other, and we all will be friends after this.
IGN: So will you be back for sequels if this one makes enough money?
Lawrence: Yes, I’m having a blast – let’s shoot them right now!