Jennifer Lawrence is the feature story of Backstage magazine’s February issue. She talks about meeting Lena Dunham, her nominations/awards experience, the auditioning process, how she makes her work choices and the efforts she puts in for them.
30+ photos from the shoot for the magazine by Blake Gardner have been added to the galley here.
Excerpts from the interview follow below. Read the full interview here.
On meeting Lena Dunham:
“I had a total fan-girl geek-out,” Lawrence says, reveling in the experience. “I’m such a huge fan of hers; I kind of got really insane and put my arm around her neck. I forget I’m much bigger than other people, and I probably half strangled her.”
On the Awards season:
“Confusing,” Lawrence says, then lets loose a long laugh. “You know when something is just too much to take in and there’s only a certain amount you can absorb as a human? Last night Daniel Day-Lewis and Tommy Lee Jones were sitting next to my table, and I was like, ‘I can’t process this right now. So I’m just going to turn away.’ ”
On her talent and initial discovery:
What is serious is her talent; few actors can hold their own with Robert De Niro, not to mention steal a scene from him. Lawrence so consistently disappears into her roles that it’s difficult to believe she is only 22. Perhaps even more difficult to fathom is that she could get even better. As “The Hunger Games” director Gary Ross told Backstage, “I don’t think she has any peers in her generation. I think we’re seeing the infancy of what’s going to be a huge, huge career, a historic career.”
Lawrence might be at the top of every director’s list, but she has had to fight for her most iconic roles. Her initial discovery is the stuff of fairy tales; she was visiting New York on spring break with her family at age 14 when a photographer asked to take her photo. Modeling agencies began calling, and “we didn’t really have anything better to do,” so she met with some.
“On the cab ride to my first meeting, I decided in my 14-year-old head I was going to be an actress,” Lawrence says. “I had never once thought of it before, really.” Her mother, Karen, helped her keep a level head. “I was being offered contracts, and my mom told me they were blowing smoke up my butt—her exact words—and just wanted my money.” But on returning to Louisville, Lawrence began begging her parents every day. That summer her mother took her to New York to try it out. “She was probably hoping I would fail and get it out of my system,” Lawrence says. “And it just kind of kept snowballing, out of control.”
She also auditioned for “The Hunger Games,” an experience Ross says “was like no audition I’d ever seen. It was one of the most powerful acting experiences I’d ever had.” And she auditioned for the role of outspoken widow Tiffany in “Silver Linings” over Skype, something the “least technologically inclined person in the world” hadn’t done before. Writer-director David O. Russell says Lawrence came in late in the casting process and simply blew away the competition, despite that in Matthew Quick’s book, Tiffany is in her 30s. Even Lawrence says, “With ‘Silver Linings,’ I totally get why I had to audition—I was way too young for the part.” After she won the role, an addition was made to the script in which Cooper’s character asks her about her age. Though Russell says the line was added, he notes, “But once she became the character, her age never really felt like an issue because she has such a timeless quality.”
Lawrence says she prefers to audition. “Being offered a part is very nice, but there’s something about feeling like you really went in there and earned it,” she says. “Then in times of doubt, you know they saw something in you and hired you for a reason. Because I have many moments of doubt, and that’s always been very helpful.”