Jennifer Lawrence on her nude scenes in ‘Red Sparrow,’ Razzie nod
LOS ANGELES—In “Red Sparrow,” Jennifer Lawrence further proves that she’s more than the most popular star of her generation; she’s also an actress of the first caliber. Playing Dominika Egorova, a Russian prima ballerina whose injury forces her to join a secret intelligence service, Jennifer is compelling and eminently watchable from start to finish.
It’s the actress’ most provocative role—she figures in sex scenes and nudity. Surrounded by terrific actors—Joel Edgerton, Matthias Schoenaerts, Jeremy Irons and Charlotte Rampling—Jennifer is engaging even as she turns into an icy maiden spy. Jennifer’s “Hunger Games” director Francis Lawrence, in his film adaptation of Jason Matthews’ novel, comes up with another winning vehicle for his frequent collaborator.
Jennifer, lovely in a Public School top, Stella McCartney pants and Jimmy Choo shoes, was candid and no-nonsense as usual in our latest interview.
Excerpts from our talk:
Were you nervous about doing the nude scenes in this movie? There was a lot of stuff that made me nervous before I said yes to this movie because I knew going in that I was either going all the way or somebody else was going to do the movie. Because there was no version of doing a softer way of telling this story. But, I actually felt empowered by it.
What else empowers you? I feel most powerful when I’m working out, and when I am speaking my mind.
If you had said no to the nude scenes… I can’t play a character that is being asked to go further than I myself am not willing to go. But there’s a lot of dark material in this movie that’s going to make people uncomfortable. To tell the story in a correct way and make it as true to form was more important than the fears that I’ve had for years. It was definitely going out of my comfort zone, but I’m happy I did it.
There’s an interesting line in the movie that goes, the state owns the body of Dominika. Do you feel that art owns your body? I feel like I lease out my body willingly and consensually for my art. I’m happy to do it. There are many sacrifices that go into the art.
Were your costars scared by how fearless you were? I hope they weren’t scared (laughs).
What scares you the most in life? Interviews (laughs). Sit down, one-on-one magazine interviews, because I’m just hanging out with somebody, then it gets printed. For example, before my Vanity Fair cover story came out, I went to sleep with a pit in my stomach every single night until it came out. If it was going to be terrible, just let it be terrible.
But it’s scary. Being misunderstood is probably my biggest fear, like accidentally offending somebody, or accidentally being an a**hole. That keeps me up at night.
Can you talk about the physical challenges of the role? For four months, I trained in ballet. And for three hours a day, which was obviously more for me because I wasn’t going to instantly turn into a prima ballerina (laughs). It was more about me learning to use my body differently and also getting into the mind of the discipline that dancers have to go through.
I was filming for over 12 hours a day, so I didn’t have much time for training. We had to get all of that training in before. As soon as we wrapped the ballet stuff, I threw myself a party (laughs).
Your character has a very close relationship with her mother. How is your relationship with your own mother? I live on my own and have lived away from home since I was 14. But I’m 27 years old and still need my mom. She’s a huge support system for me. I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for her. I still want her opinion pretty much on everything, except boys (laughs).
Do you listen to your father about men? I can’t talk to my dad about boys! That’s what girlfriends are for. My father thought that I was on birth control for acne (laughs).
So, if you’re single now…
I am single…
What are the advantages of being single, as opposed to being in a relationship? There are way more advantages to being single. In single mode, I’m cool, I can do whatever I want. I can be alone and watch terrible TV. Then, in a few months, I’ll be devastatingly lonely and feel like I am on some long waiting list, because that’s what comes with single life. But I’m not there yet.
I enjoyed your work in “Mother!” So I was surprised that you were nominated for a Razzie.
Were you surprised about the Razzie nomination? That was the most I had ever given to a role. I think that that was my greatest performance—and that’s the only opinion I care about. I’m so proud of that movie. I know that the film will live.
Jack Nicholson was nominated for a Razzie for “The Shining,” so I’m good (laughs).
What did you learn from doing “Mother!” and “Red Sparrow”? This movie took me out of my comfort zone. There was a long period in my life when I didn’t want to be seen sexually. But if I wanted to tell the story, then I was going to have to get over that fear.
“Mother!” was a complete departure. The role is completely different from my personality. Any time an actor is doing a character, it’s like walking a mile in someone’s shoes. It just opens your mind.
Do you educate yourself? I’ve always been very curious. If I feel insecure about not knowing a lot about a particular subject, then I read about it.
Dominika is trained to keep secrets. How good are you at keeping secrets? It’s interesting because fame really does change your perspective on secrets. I’m going to the grave with many secrets, and I am happy to do it. I hope everybody is doing the same thing for me (laughs).
How do you unwind? Do you knit (Jennifer laughs upon hearing this)? No, I’m not knitting. I know how to cook, but I don’t like to cook unless I’m trying to impress a guy, which isn’t happening any time soon.
I read. Morning is when I get a lot of my reading done, and nighttime is TV time. I can’t take Pippi (her pet dog) on a walk because of the coyotes.
Where in your house do you usually like to watch TV? In my sofa, which isn’t super comfortable, but it’s really pretty. I turned my dining room that is off my kitchen into a TV room. I have reconstructed my house around my laziness (laughs).
I love “Modern Family.” “Veep” is probably my favorite show in the entire world. I think Julia Louis-Dreyfus is the greatest comedic actress who has ever lived.
Can you give an update on your concern for pay equality? There are different moving parts that go into pay equality. A lot of it starts from the very top. There’s only so much that agents can do. The essay that I wrote about pay equality was my mental perspective on the whole thing.
Why didn’t I feel like I deserved to be paid equally? I have been nominated for and have won an Academy Award. I have led movies to be No. 1 at the box office, so I don’t know what part of me felt like I deserved to not be paid equally.
What else would you like to change? The things that I want to change extend much further than the industry. I’d like everybody to be paid equally for the same amount of work. I would like corruption to end in America. There are many things I would want to change. Hollywood is just the beginning.
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