When Jennifer Lawrence, the highest paid actress in the world for 2015 and 2016 and second youngest winner of the Academy Award for Best Actress, announced she was taking a gap year to focus on activism and getting more ‘young people engaged politically,’ it left us with both admiration and a genuine lack of comprehension. Lawrence appears to be at the top of her game, with Red Sparrow already wooing critics and the expected release of X-Men: Dark Phoenix in November. But for the American actress, who nearly ended up in modelling, acting is and has always been a calling.
Jennifer Shrader Lawrence was born on August 25, 1990, in Kentucky, USA. She suffered from anxiety as a child and found peace and accomplishment in acting and performing on stage, taking part in numerous church plays and school musicals. Her mother tried to persuade her to launch a career in modelling, but Lawrance persevered and landed her first major role in The Bill Engvall Show (2007-2009). Her film debut was in Garden Party (2008), with her breakthrough following closely behind, playing struggling teenager in the drama Winter’s Bone (2010). By the time she won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in Silver Linings Playbook (2012), she was firmly established as a Hollywood favourite.
As with the peculiar case of Daniel Radcliffe, who will probably be forever haunted by the Harry Potter franchise, for the majority of fans, non-fans and just about anybody really, Lawrence is possibly equally threatened to forever remain a breathing shadow of Katniss Everdeen.
The Hunger Games Series (2012-2015)
One cannot and should not overlook Lawrence’s performance in The Hunger Game’s series. Despite the fact it has turned into something of an annoyingly persistent film reference for the actress, the success of the franchise and of Lawrence’s portrayal of the main protagonist Katniss Everdeen is undebatable. The film series, based on The Hunger Games trilogy by the American author Suzanne Collins, is the 18th highest-grossing film franchise of all time, with over 2.9 billion dollars worldwide.
Along with a crudely dystopian survival instinct, Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth and their fellow costars deliver an extraordinarily saddening but sincere human story or love, right and wrong, courage and pain. Although it is sometimes compared to the likes of The Maze Runner series (2014-2018), The Host (2013) and the still ongoing Divergent franchise, The Hunger Games carries its own flame of life-affirming perseverance, evident in the development of the characters.
Looking at her future projects and their commercial success, it is relatively safe to say that the dystopian scenario clearly agrees with Lawrence’s sensitivity as an actress.
The science fiction film by director Morten Tyldum and writer Jon Spaihts was nominated for Best Original Score and Best Production Design at the 89th Academy Awards, and with good reason. This very visual and suitably high-tech vision of what would become of us when the Earth ceases to satisfy our need for innovation and discovery has crafted a uniquely human story into a larger narrative of human development beautifully.
There is, one could argue, an ongoing theme about all-sacrificing love, recognisable from the iconic film Titanic (1998), but one that fortunately bears a much more positive if rather unconventional ending. Lawrence and her costar Chris Pratt demonstrate the awkward chemistry that the narrative requires while struggling to avoid space collisions and blowing the whole spaceship up. Passengers is one of those films which make you wonder… What does the future hold? How powerful will technology become? But most importantly, how did Lawrence manage to physically assault Pratt’s character so savagely?
Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
This American romantic comedy-drama proved a turning point in Lawrence’s career. Alongside her Academy Award for Best Actress for her portrayal of Tiffany Maxwell, a widowed and depressed woman with relationship problems, Silver Linings Playbook received 8 Academy Awards nominations. It thus became the first film since 1981’s Reds to be Oscar-nominated for the four acting categories. It grossed over 236 million dollars worldwide and remains to this day one of Lawrence’s most profound performances.
Her chemistry with Bradley Cooper has been praised considerably, taking into account the intensity of their on-screen relationship. What makes Silver Linings Playbook a joy to watch is the heady mix of love, friendship and finding the strength to forgive, forget, understand and believe. It is an enlighteningly sincere tale about human relationships and the struggle of emotional recovery and coming to terms with your own story. Because, in the end, we are all storytellers, but only some get the Oscars.
Red Sparrow is in cinemas this Friday.