Confession time. Here at Lumity we are all huge Jennifer Lawrence fans. In a world of heavily polished Hollywood images where most of what we see is strictly controlled by publicists and mostly fake, there’s no denying that J-Law is the very epitome of keeping it real.
She’s a much-needed breath of fresh air amongst so much pretend, and, yes, she drinks wine and turns up slightly drunk at glam events, she trips up, she makes ill-advised jokes because she’s nervous – for which she later has to apologise.
In short, Jennifer is exactly like us (but we don’t have the looks, the acting talent, youth on our side, or the seven figure salary).
And, the 27-year-old has many other redeeming qualities. She taught several of us something about empowerment when she admitted: ‘I still have to learn that I don’t have to smile when a man makes me feel uncomfortable’. Hands up if you’re still learning that one too, eh?
She’s funny, she’s sassy, she operates without a filter. She’s passionate about equality, she’s beautiful and she’s breathtakingly brilliant at her job.
In her latest flick Red Sparrow, she plays Dominika, a former ballerina recruited by Russian intelligence to use her sexuality and guile to seduce enemies of the state.
And when ordered to make contact with an American CIA agent [Joel Edgerton], she finds herself falling in love and considers defecting to the other side.
Here, Jennifer talks sexuality, nudity, female empowerment, feeling unpopular, selfie requests in bathrooms, speaking her mind and why her movie with Amy Schumer is most definitely going to be funny.
Dominika is such a different character for you. What was her appeal, what drew you to her?
LAWRENCE: Because she’s what you’d call a survivor and I felt very drawn to someone who has that much will and push to exist. Dominika is intelligent and resourceful and ruthless, her whole life she’s been owned and manipulated and dominated by the State, who try to crush her will and spirit through all that training, but she emerges more empowered than before, she uses what they thought her against them, they make her more dangerous than they ever expected.
It’s a very demanding role physically, what was the most difficult for you?
LAWRENCE: The ballet [laughs] We condensed a lifetime of ballet training into four months and I was training three hours a day and I’m obviously not Bolshoi material, but I got pretty good, for me. Me who can’t walk five steps without tripping [laughs]. I was never going to be a prima ballerina but being able to absorb the discipline they endure and learning to hold my head and body and the physical and mental strength it takes. Their bodies are total machines, it’s like, how do you cope with that?
How did you cope with it?
LAWRENCE: I didn’t [laughs]. I was suffering. So I was happy [when it ended]. It was time to party [laughs].
There’s a lot being made about the heightened sexuality in the movie and the role, were you apprehensive about that aspect?
LAWRENCE: It was a big push for me, to go that far out of my comfort zone in a role that required so much sexuality and sexual power. Three, four years ago, I would have passed just because I never ever wanted to be seen that way. I was adamant.
But it’s central to the story and it’s extreme, very real themes that were central to the story, Jason Master, he was a real CIA agent, he had a lot of insight that was very unique and real, and I think that was what shocked me, this being a totally true story.
We had to explore [the sexuality], we had to go for it and tell it with a strength, you couldn’t shy away because, it would have diminished the impact and become another film entirely.
Did you feel like you were facing your fears?
LAWRENCE: Yes, and it was so empowering, more than I realised. But I definitely felt that while doing Mother too, because allowing myself to go there, I didn’t know if I could let go so that was really empowering too, I keep having all these empowering experiences, it’s the greatest job ever [laughs]. I feel empowered every day.
And this is an empowering film for women, watching a woman victimised by men, manipulated by men, controlled by the state, now she’s taking back control. And women are finally taking back control now after being victimised, being manipulated, being controlled, it’s the perfect movie for women, it’s the perfect story for today.
That crazy mob scene in Mother, is reminiscent of your life with all the screaming fans. How do you get your head around that aspect of the job?
LAWRENCE: It’s not hard, actors who go through that kind of madness, have you all fooled [laughs]. It only happens on very rare occasions, if it happened every day, then I would go crazy, but I like it, engaging with [the fans] that makes me happy. They’re there for you, that’s a rare, special feeling, you can’t get mad at that.
But all that is very ephemeral, I think I feel a little apprehensive around that vibe because I know the smallest thing could change the temperature and all the sudden, everyone’s throwing stuff at me, can’t wait for that to happen [laughs].
You’re the most popular actress in Hollywood, I don’t see that happening.
LAWRENCE: I feel like any feelings my fans have for me, they’re not really my fans, they’re Katniss’ fans, they’re Mystique’s fans, they’re fans of these characters I’ve played and connected with, but they don’t know me at all. They certainly don’t love me, how could they, you need to know someone intimately to love them.
So I can’t feed on that, I can’t get all comfortable in that support because it’s not for me. The only relationships I rely on are the ones with my family, with my friends, that’s it.
You’re not afraid to speak your mind when it comes to protecting your privacy, is that a tricky negotiation for you?
LAWRENCE: It took me a couple of years to get here, I really didn’t know what was the right way to handle it and I used to get so angry, get all pent up about it, I couldn’t equate my job with that treatment and being ok with it, it’s not ok with me.
And then the risk there is coming across as unlikeable, but I don’t care anymore. It’s my life and I’m allowed to have that separate life like everyone else has.
When did you have that realization moment?
LAWRENCE: Well when I was asked for a selfie in the toilet in a restaurant, I mean, a lot of other stuff has happened but that moment, it was like, ‘are you for real? Really?’ This is not OK and I’m not ok with it and no, this is not right, I don’t have to accept this behaviour, so I won’t. And I don’t care how that portrays me, it would be weird to be ok with someone trying to take a selfie with you in the bathroom. Boundaries, please.
What’s happening with your movie with Amy Schumer, is it still going ahead?
LAWRENCE: Yea, it is, we just need to find the right time to schedule it, it’s a really funny script, if I do say so because I had a hand in writing it.
We can’t wait.
If you enjoyed this, find out why Nicole Kidman is embracing being 50. And here’s what Helena Christensen told us about some of the world’s most picture perfect beautiful people being the ugliest that she has ever met on the inside.