Jennifer Lawrence: In ‘Mockingjay’ I get to be Joan of Arc!
I first met Jennifer Lawrence in June 2010. At the time, her movie “Winter’s Bone” was a critical smash but the spotlight that comes along with Oscar nominations & major movie casting had yet to find her. But let me tell you, one year later — after all the red carpet hoopla, “X-Men: First Class” attention and “Hunger Games” hiring — Jennifer is exactly the same down-to-earth, self-deprecating girl who was more interested in where I bought my bag than talking about her actorly motivation.
A skill that will undoubtedly serve her well over the next three years as she becomes one of the most popular and omnipresent actors thanks to her casting as Katniss in “The Hunger Games” movies. Yes, that Young Adult Rocket has one destination: stardom. Just ask Kristen Stewart.
Sitting down with Jennifer is always a joy, as you can probably tell from the following interview. It takes so many detours I almost got whiplash. So keep reading because in addition to talking “Hunger Games” and “X-Men,” I also get Jennifer’s take on psychics, her lack of parental supervision and vomiting on live television.
PW: I know this is still fairly new to you, but if there are any nerves, you’re doing a remarkable job of hiding them.
Jennifer: Right before I went on the “Letterman” stage, the guy who was telling me where to go said, “have fun out there, you’ll be great.” And I just looked at him and said, “I think I’m going to throw up.” [laughs] But once you’re out there, it’s OK. I think I’m getting a bit better at not being nervous. Mostly because I’m so focused on my posture. All I think is, “suck in! suck in! don’t put your arm against your body!” But that can screw me up to because it’s like, “wait, what is David Letterman saying?”
PW: Both the Letterman and Kimmel interviews have involved lots of stories about your lack of parental supervision growing up. What do mom & dad think of that?
Jennifer: [laughs] Oh yea, we’re always getting in fights now. In fact, I just got in one with my mom on the way over here because she said [affects Southern accents] “we did not put you on wild horses!” But sorry mom, you did. They never paid any attention to me, so my family is hearing a lot of stories for, what they think, is the first time on all these talk shows but they’re all true – they just always forgot about me. Left me at football games, left me at baseball games. And this is what happens when your neglected child grows up and gets on talk shows.
PW: You use a national television show to put them on blast.
Jennifer: Yea. But it’s embarrassing they don’t remember because it’s admitting they, ya know, didn’t care about me as a child [laughs].
PW: Obviously they’re super excited now after the well-deserved Oscar nomination and the role in “X-Men: First Class.” What attracted you to a superhero movie?
Jennifer: I loved the script and Matthew Vaughn, the director – plus, James McAvoy & Michael Fassbender are incredible actors. I thought there was so much to do with this character. All of the characters for that matter. And it’s a really great story. I also thought it would be nice to do a big budget movie with nice food and a big trailer [laughs].
PW: Must have been quite a shock after “Winter’s Bone.”
Jennifer: It totally was. I was convinced I would have to bunk up with one of the other actors in my trailer. I kept wondering who I’d be rooming with when I got to set.
PW: You also endured eight hour make-up sessions for the Mystique scenes. How did you pass the time?
Jennifer: We had lots of box sets. I had seven makeup artists who now know any and everything about me [laughs]. There’s no one else in the world who knows more about me than they do. It was like one long, bizarre sleepover.
PW: What shows were the most popular?
Jennifer: “Sex and the City” [hums theme music].
PW: Ok, so let me ask the inevitable question: Are you a Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte or Miranda?
Jennifer: Oh, doesn’t everyone think they’re a Carrie? Isn’t that the female rule?
PW: Is it bad that I think I’m a Miranda?
Jennifer: Oh my god! That’s terrible. Don’t tell people that. But you know, so many of my good friends are Miranda’s – plus, you’re from New York, so you’re allowed. In Los Angeles, being the Miranda sucks [laughs].
PW: With the exception of Mystique, who is your favorite blue pop culture character?
Jennifer: Oh man … Cookie Monster? No, Smurf. what’s the right answer? I want people to like me – tell me what to say to be likable [laughs]. Gonzo. Final answer. Oh, what about Sully from “Monsters, Inc!” That’s my answer! That’s the right answer!
PW: Good call. I live for Boo!
Jennifer: Oh, I loved that little girl! [feigns little girl voice] Boo! They should really make a sequel!
PW: They are! It’s a prequel called “Monsters University!”
Jennifer: No way! Isn’t it weird when you happen to have a random conversation and then it comes to life?
PW: Totally. We’re like Nostradamus.
Jennifer: Oh s***! Is that what happened to Nostradamus? He’d keep talking about sequels and prequels and they would happen? [laughs]
PW: Yep, he was obsessed with Pixar movies.
Jennifer: That’s totally what the Eagle on the big rock was about [laughs]! It wasn’t about 9/11 – it was about Pixar.
PW: I’m curious — how did your training for “X-Men” and “Hunger Games” compare?
Jennifer: Katniss training is a lot more fun. The “X-Men” training was kind of like two grueling hours every day, but “Hunger Games” is more fun. It’s running and jumping and rock climbing and combat and all these really cool things. It’s longer – like 4 hours a day – but I don’t realize that I’m working out … until I pass out [laughs].
PW: I have to tell you, I read “The Hunger Games” after we met last June and pictured you as Katniss the entire time.
Jennifer: Really? That’s so cool!
PW: By this point, everyone and their mother is foaming at the mouth with excitement about the movies, but what excites you about them?
Jennifer: I love that it’s kind of this sick look at our world that’s obsessed with reality TV and obsessed with brutality. We’ve become so numb to the shock factor. We see people die on TV now, we see dead bodies and blood on the nightly news. I mean, the things people can find on YouTube are crazy! We’re so desensitized to it all now. Also the message of history repeating itself. Then there are these scenes where it honestly looks like gladiators. Roman History – people murdering other people for nothing more than entertainment. I just think all of that is genius and hard hitting and fascinating.
PW: Which of the three books are you most excited to film?
Jennifer: Probably “Mockingjay,” with “Hunger Games” a close second. I say that because in “Mockingjay” I get to be Joan of Arc. Except I live to tell the tale!