Exclusive: Jennifer Lawrence Speaks About her Stolen Photos (2024)

Woody still laughs at that. “I said, ‘Well, I guess it could be.’ But that really is, actually, a great illustration of who she is, because she's incredibly vulnerable, but she's got all these wonderful contradictions. She's just very forthcoming. It's almost shocking how much she'll say, you know. That's super-fun, and also it's shocking sometimes because it's so on the edge. It's like she doesn't have a censor. I really love that in people. I guess there are some people I don't love it in, but in her it's wonderful.”

The Danish film director Susanne Bier, who directed Jennifer in the dark drama Serena, due out early next year, sees her in the same way. “You can compare it to the young royals, who are groomed to be in that position, but with Jennifer it's been only two years that she's [become] one of the biggest stars in the world right now. But she's so smart, she's so bright, and there is a solidness to her that saves her, that makes her able to handle it.”

“After [the second Hunger Games movie], Catching Fire, things reached a new frenzy of Jennifer being approached, and her photos being taken, and paparazzi following her,” observes Francis Lawrence, who directed her in the final three Hunger Games installments. “I mean, it's hard for her to go to dinner without having five or six people interrupt, to have their pictures taken with her.”

Jennifer read all of Collins's novels when they were first published, “in three days,” but she never saw herself as their teenage heroine, Katniss Everdeen, the plucky survivor who changes the Games. “My brothers always say the same thing. They're like, ‘When we read the book, we didn't picture you.’ I was like, ‘I didn't, either.’ ” For one thing, she always felt that she was “too much of a klutz” to play a skillful archer, but her self-described klutziness is part of her charm. Wearing a stunning off-pink Dior gown when she won the best-actress Academy Award, in 2013, she tripped going up the stairs to the stage and fell headlong—into America's heart.

“It was one of the most embarrassing moments of my entire life,” she admits. “It took me a while to be able to laugh about it. I cried.” To this day, it bothers her that she forgot to thank Silver Linings Playbook director David O. Russell and the producer Harvey Weinstein, blaming it on the shock of her fall. (But, she adds, “it was probably because I f*cked up on my birth-control pills and I was hormonally just out of control that night.”)

After ordering coffee with soy milk, Jennifer walked over to the bar. “You look like you could use some help,” she said as I struggled to open a bottle of sparkling water. She picked up a bottle opener and removed the cap, explaining that the soy milk is an experiment: “There's nothing like milk in coffee, but I'm trying soy.” She's dismissive of the gluten-free crowd, which she calls “the new cool eating disorder, the ‘basically I just don't eat carbs.’ ” Jennifer is the anti-vegan, anti-gluten-free consumer, having just eaten a breakfast of spaghetti and meatballs before the interview. (Harrelson is the only vegan to whom she'll give a pass.)

Laurence Olivier once wrote in a letter to the actress Joan Plowright, who would later become his wife: “You have an absolutely marvelous, uncalculated, impish sense of humour which is strongly laced with an aptitude for self-mockery.” Those words could just as easily describe Jennifer. As Serena director Bier testifies, “Given Jennifer's charm, it's hard not to fall in love with her. She's highly intelligent, but she doesn't let her intelligence [get] in the way of her emotions. With some actors, their intelligence prevents them from letting go, from being in the moment. Not Jennifer. She's in the moment, always, like nothing I've ever seen.”

She almost didn't get the role of Serena in the upcoming movie of the same name. “We were both on the red carpet at the same time,” recalled Bier. Jennifer was there because she had been nominated for Winter's Bone, and Bier had been nominated for In a Better World, which won best foreign-language film that year. Bier remembers saying, “ ‘Wow—who is that girl?’ And I told the producers that she would be great for Serena, and they said, ‘Yes, but we couldn't get financing with her.’ ”

What a difference a blockbuster makes.

Jennifer's portrayal of Serena Pemberton, the powerful and murderous woman behind a timber fortune in Depression-era Appalachia, will shock many of her fans—it's like nothing she has played before. When asked how she related to such a dark character, Jennifer answered, “Serena Pemberton—God, I love her. I'm not normally drawn to people with no redeeming qualities, but I think she's interesting, and I found another layer that I can't find the words for right now, but it was interesting for me. Basically what I'm saying is that people who are drawn to doing desperate things—you can have compassion for their desperation.”

Why Curb Your Enthusiasm?

Though Jennifer never saw herself as Katniss, Francis Lawrence says, “I certainly cannot imagine anybody else in that role. I know that a bunch of people [felt] that she was miscast. This was before anybody saw it. I mean, nobody would question it once you see her performance. She really understands the character, and she spontaneously makes these choices which are always so honest and real and nuanced and believable. She picks up on the smallest little details in terms of people and personalities and behavior, and can read people and read a room so insanely quickly.”

She seems to have learned it all on her own. By studying people, she studied acting. Her mother, Karen, who runs a day camp for children, once said that as a little girl Jennifer watched a lot of television, but not in the way that other children, or even adults, do. She would get right up to the TV screen, studying everything that was going on.

Just as surprising, perhaps, is how Jennifer holds her own with such seasoned actors as Harrelson, Donald Sutherland, and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, whose final role was Plutarch Heavensbee in the two Mockingjay movies. Director Francis Lawrence recalls that Hoffman “only worked [on the movies] for maybe three weeks. He felt a little bit like an outsider, as did I at the time because it was very early on. So he was pretty quiet, and we were all in awe of him and still so excited—‘Oh, my God, Phil's in our movie.’ He was a little more serious than everybody else was in between takes,” he adds, noting that Jennifer's style was so different. “Jen will joke, joke, joke, joke, joke, joke, joke, joke right up to the second you call ‘Action.’ ”

When the action does start, Jennifer is all business. Harrelson says, “I've got to admit, I'm a bit of a butthole this way, but I will try to make people laugh sometimes during a scene. But you just can't make her laugh. The times I have tried to, it just shamed me because she was just so completely in the scene. She goes deep.”

Jennifer did not want to talk about Hoffman's shocking death last February, but she does have strong opinions on the subject of death: “Death is a terrible thing that should be respected. When somebody that you love dies, it's the most horrific, awful, gut-wrenching feeling that lasts forever. And for somebody to say that they're not afraid of death makes me want to punch them in the f*cking face. Because when you're touched by death, you realize how powerful it is and how much it should be respected for an awful, scary, terrible thing.”

She stopped herself, apologizing by saying, “I'm so dark. I really should have picked a better day to do this. I'm sorry.”

She suddenly changed the subject to something lighter: her affection for smart, funny comedians. “Do you like Curb Your Enthusiasm? Do you like Larry David? I'm in love with him, and I have been for a really long time.” Just talking about Larry David made her giddy.

“I worship Woody Allen,” she added, “but I don't feel it below the belt the way I do for Larry David.” (Larry David: Are you reading this?)

She's an iconoclast on her way to becoming an icon, and her high spirits and spontaneity just can't be tamped down. She is constantly coming up with the unexpected, as when she goes on a riff about her dislike of spiders, co*ckroaches, even crickets. Maybe it's a southern thing.

“Oh, am I such a bad person?” she asked when she noticed a spider crawling into the cabana. “See that spider? That spider isn't even close to hurting us or anything, but I want to go seek it out just to kill it. That's how much I hate spiders. Bumblebees? I won't kill a bumblebee. I'll move a bumblebee. Flies? Dead. Spiders? Dead. Mosquitoes? Dead. co*ckroaches? Dead, dead, dead. Crickets? I'll kill a cricket. Because they jump into my house. I leave the door open. They jump in my house, and then I'm lying in bed and one will just start chirping in my room. Drives me crazy. I'm thinking about cutting one of their heads off and just kind of leaving it outside the door, sending others a message. Get tiny little co*cktail sticks, little toothpicks, and put them on stakes. But crickets wouldn't get that—it would be way over their heads. Rats would understand. Rats are smart motherf*ckers. I had to battle rats when I was a teenager in my rat-infested apartment in New York, and they're f*ckin' smart and they're scary.”

Exclusive: Jennifer Lawrence Speaks About her Stolen Photos (2024)
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