Movie News & Reviews

Louisville's Jennifer Lawrence can barely keep up with her own success

Lawrence plays Raven/Mystique in X-Men: First Class, which opens Friday.
Lawrence plays Raven/Mystique in X-Men: First Class, which opens Friday.

At the moment, Jennifer Lawrence — Kentuckian, Academy Award nominee, comic-book-movie star and the current unofficially anointed It Girl — can barely catch her breath long enough to have a conversation.

During a recent telephone call with Lawrence — who received her first Oscar nomination this year for her portrayal of a steely teen in Winter's Bone and who will be seen Friday in her first summer blockbuster, X-Men: First Class — the actress is all over the place.

She begins chatting in a dressing room backstage at Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, then she heads into a parking garage, where her cellphone briefly loses reception, then she resumes a few minutes later as she rides to her next destination.

Movie stardom apparently requires multitasking. And this is only the beginning.

After her turn as young shape-shifter Mystique (non-mutant name: Raven Darkholme) in X-Men: First Class, Lawrence, 20, will star in her buzziest role to date: as teen warrior Katniss Everdeen in the adaptation of the popular post-apocalyptic young-adult book series The Hunger Games, a role that has made her the subject of intense Internet chatter and landed her on the cover of Entertainment Weekly. (The film began shooting in mid-May in Wilmington, N.C.)

So how has success affected the Louisville native? Given her often refreshingly unpretentious answers to a reporter's questions, not a whole lot.

Question: Was it strange to go from doing movies like Winter's Bone to an X-Men flick? Or is there ultimately little difference between making an indie versus a comic-book film?

Answer: It's all filmmaking. The behind-the-scenes is always different: You have a bigger trailer, there's better food. Things like that. I still do the movies for the same reasons. I still love the script, I love the director, I love the character and the other actors involved. So all of the reasons why I was there, they were all the same.

It's kind of like camping versus going to a resort. They're both fun; they're just different kinds of fun.

Q: James McAvoy co-stars in X-Men and strikes me as someone who has gone through a similar transition, having appeared in Atonement, and comic-book movies like this one and Wanted. Did you seek career advice from him?

A: No, I think we kind of mostly just joked around and messed up takes and made fart noises.

Q: I am sure your Oscar experience was a bit of a blur, but do you have one or two moments that stand out in your memory from that night?

A: I was really excited because Florence and the Machine was playing. I really remember that performance really well. It was great. I loved being able to sit next to my dad. We just kept looking at each other like, "I can't believe this is happening."

Q: Have you started to process what's changed in your life in the past year or two?

A: I'm still really focused on the work, to be honest. I pay attention to me being busier. But I don't think of it as, oh, my God, now I am on all these talk shows. It's just kind of, like, work. And then I'm still reading scripts and trying to figure out the next thing. And when I'm on set, I'm just thinking about the script and of working.

Q: You've been praised in the media for seeming grounded. Do you think you're more grounded than other people you encounter in Hollywood?

A: I think I run into grounded people all the time. As long as you remember what you're here for — you're here for the work, you're here to make a film.

I was talking about it the other day, how there seems to be some very bizarre habit where as soon as you become big and famous, you think that you don't have to work anymore. And it's just such a weird trend that I'm starting to see. But I run into grounded people all the time. Given, most of them are behind the camera. But I definitely by no means think I'm the only one.

Q: There is so much Internet chatter and interest in The Hunger Games. Do you feel prepared for all the added attention?

A: I don't think there really is a way to prepare. I just think there is a way to accept it. It's kind of scary, to be honest. I love the movie and I love the books, and I didn't want to just turn away because I was scared (of the scrutiny).

Q: Given your schedule, do you ever have time to relax? If so, what do you do?

A: Not right now. I just kind of do what I just did, which is just canceled my flight I was supposed to be rushing to right now so I could just have a full night's sleep here and then go to work tomorrow. I don't have full days of rest, no.

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