LOS ANGELES – The irony in Jennifer Lawrence’s life is that at age 14, she knew acting was what she was meant to do and she would be good at it.
Discovered while on holiday with her mom in New York, she read her first script and “understood and loved it.” The Louisville, Kentucky native begged her parents “every day of the school year” if they would let her return to NY for the summer and try her luck. They would not let her, until her two older brothers intervened.
Jennifer recalled: “My brothers told my parents, ‘You travelled with us for sports. You would be doing this if it were for baseball or football. This is Jennifer’s ‘sport’ so you have to give her a chance, like you would give us a chance.’ My parents did, expecting me to fail and come back home. Then everything would be back to normal. But instead, I got flown out to LA and that is when it all started.”
And now here she was, seated in a hotel meeting room for an interview, on the cusp of what could be a pivotal, turning point in her “sport.” The journey of that 14-year-old girl has brought her a series of roles, including one in “Winter’s Bone,” which earned her a best-actress nomination for an Oscar as well as for a Golden Globe. Now she stars in one of the year’s most anticipated movies, “The Hunger Games.”
Gary Ross directs the adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ novel, the first in a trilogy that sold millions of copies worldwide. Jennifer is slated to do the other two films as well.
The actress, now 21, admitted that she is a lot less confident. But Jennifer, who is blessed with smoky eyes and a husky voice, said that she is ready for the fame that we are sure “The Hunger Games” will bring to the life of the girl from Kentucky.
Below are excerpts from our interview:
Can you talk about hunger in a figurative sense? How hungry were you to go for parts when you began acting?
I was a lot more confident and stubborn when I was younger. If I did not get a part, I was like, “Whatever, I will get the next one. It will be better.” It was the same thing when my mom and dad let me go to New York. I was like, “Trust me, I will be successful. I am going to try it so of course, I am going to win.” It was the stubbornness of a 14-year-old. I remember auditioning and thinking, if I do not get this and I did not do everything that I possibly could have, then I am going to be disappointed in myself.
Now that I am older, it is different. I do not understand what happened. I am terrified and have no confidence. I see myself on the screen and I think I am a troll, I am horrible, and I will never work again. It is almost the exact opposite, like realizing your mortality when you get older and not wanting to jump on a motorcycle like you did when you were younger.
Do you have a hunter’s instinct?
I do not have a lot of skills in anything. I am not a very quiet person. I am kind of clumsy. If I were tracking a deer, it would not last very long. I would step on something that would make a loud noise. I would fall.
How good are your survival skills?
I do not even know how to find water here. I asked my publicist to get me a bottle of water. That is literally the only way I know how to find water. My survival skills are very poor. I just ordered lunch but if it does not make it to me, I do not know how I will eat.
What do you think the book is telling us?
I think the reason the book hits people the way it does is because it is a horrible reflection of humanity. We live in a world that is obsessed with reality television. We use people’s tragedy as entertainment. We are constantly being desensitized to the shock factor. It takes more and more to shock each generation, and we keep wanting more.
But do you watch reality TV shows?
I do watch “Scare Tactics.” I have just started watching “Doomsday Preppers,” which is about people who base their entire lives preparing for the apocalypse like it was today or tomorrow. It is amazing. I learned how to use TiVo because of that show. I have recorded every episode.
Did you talk to Suzanne Collins at all?
I spoke to Suzanne after they offered the role to me. She called me and said she had confidence in me … That was wonderful and she was so sweet. I also saw her on the set.
This movie will likely bring you fame. Are you ready?
I am getting about as ready as you can get. It was one of those rare jobs where you knew it was going to be like that from the second you said yes to it. So I have had the whole 10 months to prepare myself.
Are you afraid?
Because I like my life and it is going to change. I do not know if it is going to change for better or for worse. I do not know what is going to happen. I am afraid some of the things that I love about my personal life are going to change.
What do you think it is about you that lends itself to playing these strong, outdoorsy women in this movie and in “Winter’s Bone”?
I had this conversation with Jodie Foster. She told me that when I am older, I would look back at the choices I made when I was younger and see some sort of connection and understand why I chose those movies at the time. I do not know why I play maternal wilderness women so much. I do not know if it is something about squirrels or trees.
I love strong characters that start somewhere and end up different in the end. I love good scripts and directors. Maybe when I am older, I will look back and realize why I chose so many maternal wilderness women.
Who are the women that inspire you?
Meryl Streep is my favorite actress. I have always been a huge fan of Susanne Bier (director), with whom I am actually going to get to work in a month’s time (“Serena”). I like Mother Theresa.
What are you looking forward to in the second film of this trilogy?
What I like about the next two movies is that they kind of turn into war films. She becomes this Joan of Arc and the symbol. We start to see everybody fighting back. It turns into a really interesting, slightly political war movie.
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