Actor Profile: Jennifer Lawrence
Jennifer Lawrence is an actress with many memorable roles through the years; here is a rundown of some of her very best.
In an interview with Elle Magazine shortly after the release of mother!, Jennifer Lawrence announced that she would finally be taking a break from filming for a couple of years. With this announcement, it seemed like the time to take a look back at the amazing works she has delivered so far throughout her career. And while it has not been a career that has spanned a vast amount of time, what an explosive one it has been.
Bursting onto the scene and into the minds of critics and fans alike, in just seven years Jennifer Lawrence has become a powerhouse, America’s sweetheart, a role model for girls and women alike and one of the most desired actors to work with in Hollywood. Her free spirit captured the hearts of fans around the world, her endearing awkwardness and carefree demeanor a breath of fresh air in an industry focused on pomp and circumstance. Captivating and intriguing in every interview – and who could forget her epic trip as she went to receive her first Academy Award (or the fall on the red carpet the following year!).
Born August 15, 1990 in Louisville, Kentucky, Jennifer Lawrence began her career at 14 with outstanding cold read auditions and an early modeling career with H&M. With her mother at her side, she moved to NYC for a summer at the encouragement of managers and agents (as well as her older brothers) and quickly found herself casted in commercials and episodes for a variety of series. Beginning mostly on television – many one episode stints and The Bill Engvall Show – her career almost immediately skyrocketed, her first Oscar nomination coming only after her third film. She would rack in another three nominations and one win over the next 5 years. She is currently the ONLY individual born in the 1990’s to have won an Academy Award for acting.
Beyond her success within film, she continued with modeling, becoming the face of Dior both through commercial and her red carpet attire. Lawrence also continues her generous philanthropic work through her charity the Jennifer Lawrence Foundation – which serves to help adults and children with disabilities – and forming a cherished holiday tradition of visiting children every Christmas at her local hospital.
At only 26 years old, Jennifer Lawrence has become a powerhouse in Hollywood.
Winters Bone (2010)
This was the first film that caught the attention of many, including myself. Watching the clip aired during the 2011 Academy Awards for her nomination for Best Actress (her first!), I was immediately mesmerized by just this small snippet of her performance – immediately adding Winter’s Bone to Netflix for that week’s DVD delivery. Blown away by her strong, resilient and unrelenting performance, she immediately became the actress to watch (and my immediate favorite).
In Winter’s Bone, Jennifer Lawrence plays Ree, a young teenager struggling to care for her younger brother and sister – the only constant the roof over their heads. Yet, when the sheriff arrives to inform Ree her father has skipped bail and they are about to lose the house, Ree sets of on a dangerous search to find her father – dead or alive. At only 19 at the time of filming, Lawrence became this young country girl, fighting for her family, resolve constantly displayed across her face.
For the role, Lawrence, who was originally turned down for being too pretty, mimicked the resilience and determination of Ree by “uglying” herself up just to earn it. She would go on to learn how to skin a rabbit, chop wood and fight – all skills that would be used within the film and further the authenticity of her performance. She would hold her own while on screen with stars John Hawkes and Dale Dickey – who could have easily eclipsed her performance.
Sadly, this is one of her early films that many have not seen but should – a point that was defended in one of my monthly segments The Nominated Film You May Have Missed. Many think of the Hunger Games, or her epic interviews, when they hear her name, but her successful career started long before she picked up the bow and arrow.
X-Men: First Class (2011)
At this point in the adaptation of the Marvel/DC universes to film, one can almost expect their favorite star to have been or lined up to star in a comic book film. Jennifer Lawrence is no exception. Just before the release of The Hunger Games, she starred as Mystique in X-Men: First Class – an origin story for Mystique, Magneto, Professor Xavier and his school for Gifted Youngsters. Casted as a relatively unknown actress, Lawrence was thrusted into a male dominated film (James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Kevin Bacon) proving she could stand out amongst them all with both beauty and brawn – and not because of the blue body paint.
Beyond the male costars, Lawrence would also be faced with following up Rebecca Romijn in donning the blue costume and bringing Mystique to life. While X-Men: First Class would take place in the past, Romijn had starred as Mystique for three films starting in 2000. While the agility, fire and resolve Romijn brought to her Mystique would be in the minds as viewers watched the new prequels, Lawrence would evolve the character further, breathing life into the past of her Mystique without compromising where she would eventually go.
In the years following X-Men: First Class, Lawrence would star in three more X-Men films (X-Men: Dark Phoenix premiering November 2, 2018) and would help evolve the character of Mystique all while bridging the gap between the films of the early 2000s till now – as well as solidify herself as a memorable figure in the adapted comic book universe.
The Hunger Games Saga (2012 – 2015)
In the universe of heroes, Katniss Everdeen is the heroine I believe reigns supreme, The Hunger Games Trilogy and her valiant effort to save her sister and her district evolving into a worldwide phenomenon and capturing the loyalty of fans of all ages. It is no surprise that the adaptation was just as successful as the books, the world of Panem, District 12 and the bloodthirsty arena brought to life. These are the films that would make Jennifer Lawrence a household name. While many may have remembered her from her work in Winter’s Bone, X-Men: First Class or one of her other independent roles (Like Crazy or The Beaver), no one would be forgetting her anytime soon.
Following just months after the 2011 Academy Awards and her first nomination, it was announced that Jennifer Lawrence had been casted to play the dystopian heroine of Panem. With the release of the film, she shot to instant stardom around the world – fully breaking out of the world of independent film. It is hard to talk about Jennifer Lawrence‘s performance in The Hunger Games without addressing her in each film – neither can be left out, as the character of Katniss Everdeen evolves so too did Jennifer Lawrence.
Beginning as a young woman in the dystopian society of Panem, volunteering herself in place of her sister for the yearly Hunger Games – a battle to the death where only one participant survives – Katniss evolves into the fire of Panem, a leader of the revolution and the face of President Snow’s demise. While a reluctant hero in the beginning, she discovers, accepts and embraces her role in bringing justice, peace and freedom to Panem. A vulnerability and fear emanates from Jennifer Lawrence‘s eyes, yet by the end of the saga, transforms into a hidden leader resolved to do what is right, sacrifice what she has left and end the tyranny and oppression once and for all. The fire and pain expressed by Lawrence throughout the film grows and evolves, appropriately depicting the journey that her character is on.
For four films, Jennifer Lawrence would bring a raw talent to screen and manage the fame that followed. She would truly become the “girl on fire”.
Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
2012 was a BIG year for Jennifer Lawrence. Not only did she become the biggest breakout star of the year with her role as Katniss Everdeen, but she would also star in Silver Linings Playbook – a role that would further her newly minted household name status as well as solidify her as Hollywood’s newest award-winning talent. Lawrence would receive her first Academy Award for Best Actress for her role as Tiffany – a spite fire, strong-willed woman whose mental state can flip in an instant.
Starring alongside Bradley Cooper (for the second time, though Serena had not been released yet), Lawrence brings “Calm to Crazy” to new heights, allowing the aftermath of grief and fear of her character to control her while also relearning to make herself vulnerable to new love – a comedic and moving attempt. Having previously starred in The Bill Engvall Show, comedy was nothing new to Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook only cinematic proof of her well-rounded talent that extends beyond young adult fiction, comics and television. Many were left asking “Is there anything she can’t do?”
Her interview tours to promote the film would also solidify her as America’s Sweetheart, her no holds bar interviews a guarantee for humor and truth – Lawrence seemingly unafraid to embrace her fans. She would only cap this off during award season with her sheepishly exclaimed “I beat Meryl” when winning her Golden Globe for Best Actress, as well as her unforgettable Oscar History moment of tripping up (yes up!) the stairs to accept her Oscar – her interview after was priceless.
Thus far, her role as Tiffany is one of my favorites. Her ability to encapsulate a multilayered complex character without going over the top showed the intricacies and care with which she prepares for a role and performs. It is clear to see time was taken to understand her character and her nuances – and where she needed to bring Tiffany by the end of the film. Endearing and heartwarming, Silver Linings Playbook‘s Tiffany will be a hard one to forget.
American Hustle (2013)
Collaborating once again with David O. Russell following her Oscar win for Silver Linings Playbook, Jennifer Lawrence showed that she can be just as powerful and memorable in a supporting role as she is in the lead. Starring in American Hustle, Lawrence was a scene stealer, each moment she was on screen captivating, hilarious and unforgettable. She stole the show, her performance honestly more noteworthy than the film itself (sorry Bale, Cooper and Adams).
When watching her on screen, there is this sense of an actor having a blast with their role and loving what they do for a living. Rosalyn Rosenfield is a spunky, demanding and opportunistic individual, outspoken and unafraid to be the center of attention at all times. Wife of con artist Irving (Christian Bale), her role as a housewife always left behind and alone, as well as the knowledge that her husband cheats on her, are shown through her tantrums, disregard and questionable motives when talking with other men. While Jennifer Lawrence’s success with this role was party due to the script and story provided, she brings the words on the page to life, emulating every bit of sass and entitlement this character emits.
Anyone who hadn’t been hypnotized or entranced by the performances of Jennifer Lawrence up until now were powerless to her spell. When speaking with friends following the film’s release, many of them only referred to Lawrence‘s performance, laughter accompanying recollection of her hilarious rendition of “house clean tango”, destroying the brand new microwave, communicating with her on-screen son and her confrontation with her husband’s partner/ lover (Amy Adams) in the bathroom. Many of her films have dark moments, with some darker than others, and it was a real joy to see Jennifer Lawrence add this role to her repertoire.
Entrepreneurship is one of humanity’s greatest evolutions, many ideas and successes born out of a need to survive and provide. Joy is no different. Her design for the highly successful Miracle Mop finding birth out of the need for something better – and the desire to provide a better life for herself and her daughter. Jennifer Lawrence, teaming up once again with David O. Russell and Bradley Cooper, steps into the life of Joy, inviting audiences of all ages to know her story and how she came to be the business woman she is today.
Meek, lacking confidence and the power to stand up to her family or ex husband, Joy evolves into a strong woman that is not to be reckoned with. She develops a backbone, while never forgetting what she did to get where she is and where she began. Lawrence steps into the role of Joy flawlessly – elements from each of her previous roles finding their way as well and empowering her to fully immerse herself within the character.
As the film spans several years, there is a growth that needs to be displayed in the character through each section of her life and each part of her journey. Lawrence executes each of these with perfection. Where she was given four films to evolve the characters of Katniss Everdeen and Mystique, Joy evolves over the course of two hours. This gave Lawrence the opportunity to display the growth she has made as an actor, as well as her ability to take a character where they need to go no matter the constraint.
While I have still not made up my mind regarding mother! (see my review here), there is no question regarding the performance delivered by Jennifer Lawrence. Up to this point, most, if not all, of the roles Lawrence has starred in have been strong female characters – even if they may not necessary start off that way. In mother!, however, this was Lawrence‘s most vulnerable role to date. Her character is meek and created to serve the needs of her man. There is a moment where she tried to be stronger, dominant, but it is snatched from her fleetingly. She has no control over the people around her and the chaos and commotion they bring into her life.
Mother is empty and hollow, going through the motions – a role Lawrence encapsulates so well. Waking up, making breakfast, fixing the house, cleaning up the blood are all conducted in a manner trained rather than felt. Many will say that her take on Katniss Everdeen was a vulnerable character but at least she could fight – she was always a strong-willed character from the start. Here there is a little fight in Mother but it is for not and she quits, gives in to everything around her and everyone – including her husband – giving him everything she has to give.
Lawrence’s execution is flawless and, like her character, at times unable to gain control. In an interview with Vogue, Jennifer Lawrence confessed that playing the role of mother took her to “a darker place than I’ve ever been in my life. I didn’t know if I’d be able to come out ok”. During the climatic scenes, Lawrence began hyperventilating, the distance between reality and fiction thinning. The emotional and physical tension and hyperventilating it created caused Lawrence to dislocate a rib and tear through her diaphragm – proof of a dedication of the body and mind to the art.
Unfortunately, with the film’s release came a drastic polarized divide in the reviews for the film – you either liked it or you hated it. As award season continued, the disconnect between fans/critics and the film showed, mother!, Aronofsky and Lawrence missing from almost every awards circuit. Surprisingly, Lawrence was recently announced for Worst Actress by the Razzie Awards – an annual ceremony held the night before the Oscars that awards the worst of the worst for the previous year. While I disagree with the nomination, sadly the hate for the film seems to have extended to all its parts.
Jennifer Lawrence: Conclusion
Even though she has announced a brief break from filming, there are still films set for release in 2018 to satisfy the palette. Jennifer Lawrence will be reprising her role in X-Men: Dark Phoenix (Nov 2, 2018) as Mystique, as well as Red Sparrow (March 2, 2018) where she will play a fallen ballerina forced to become a Russian spy, as well as reteaming with Catching Fire director Francis Lawrence. Yet, it doesn’t stop there.
With a wide list of films still in development, there is no fear that her break from filming will become permanent. Some of her most highly anticipated films to come are currently awaiting production announcement – building excitement. Some of these include the highly bidded adaptation for Connecticut native Lindsey Addario‘s autobiographical book “It’s What I Do” – a firsthand account of her time as a war photographer and her time as a prisoner of war. Even before the book’s release, studios vied for the rights (each pitting their chosen lead and director) – Warner Bros. winning out with Steven Spielberg slated to direct and Jennifer Lawrence casted to play Addario.
She is also set to reunite with Catching Fire and Mockingjay 1 & 2 director Francis Lawrence for The Dive, a film that follows a competitive diving pair who challenge one another for the deepest dive with one breath. Bad Blood, another highly vied for film, will star Jennifer Lawrence as Elizabeth Holmes, founder of the disgraced Thernos blood-testing company. Based on the book of the same name by John Carreyrou, Bad Blood will follow the rise and fall of the company and its failure within cool steel detection and its devastating loss of partnerships (including Walgreens) that would bring Holmes to bankruptcy.
And least we not forget the untitled Amy Schumer/Jennifer Lawrence project, a screenplay that was a constant talking point in interviews when a budding and eccentric friendship between the two a-listers became a media frenzy. While both are believed to potentially star, this will also be the first screenplay that Jennifer Lawrence has co-wrote – the first reaches into a world behind the camera.
With a stunning career thus far, and a multitude of possibilities already lined up, it is safe to say this breakout star is here to stay.
What is your favorite Jennifer Lawrence film? Let us know in the comments below!
Opinions expressed in our articles are those of the authors and not of the Film Inquiry magazine.