Katniss fired up for comeback
Jennifer Lawrence returns in a blaze of glory, writes Sophie Herdman
JENNIFER Lawrence had an abrupt introduction to worldwide fame. Aged 20, and having previously appeared in just a handful of films, the actress was nominated for an Oscar and a Golden Globe for her role in the dark film Winter’s Bone.
She was thrown into the crazy realm of red carpets, flashing cameras and intrusive headlines – mirroring the experiences of Katniss Everdeen, the heroine of a trilogy of books she was reading called The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.
Katniss volunteers to take her younger sister’s place in a televised fight-to-the-death battle called the Hunger Games, which sees two teenagers randomly picked from each of the 12 districts of Panem, and forced to compete in the brutal contest.
In the first film, Katniss survives the Games and has fame thrust upon her.
‘‘I remember knowing exactly how that felt, to be shoved into those dresses that don’t feel like you, saying these words that don’t sound like you, and feeling like a puppet,’’ Lawrence, now 23, recalls.
Two years after reading the books, Lawrence was cast as the stoic heroine in the first of The Hunger Games films. That, coupled with Silver Linings Playbook, released the same year, catapulted Lawrence to A-list Hollywood fame. She won a string of awards for her role in Silver Linings Playbook, including a Golden Globe and Best Actress Oscar.
Her acceptance of said Oscar was as talked about as the accolade itself. Walking up to collect the award in a voluminous gown, Lawrence stumbled. Though she recovered, the embarrassment is only now subsiding.
‘‘I can’t say a certain remedy or thought made me feel better. Time went by and I could stop slapping myself every time I thought about it,’’ she says.
The focus is back on Lawrence as the latest Hunger Games film, Catching Fire hits screens, but she’s getting used to the attention.
‘‘It’s not this ambiguous scary monster, you know how to move around it,’’ she says. Family and close friends keep her grounded. ‘‘I have a bubble around me – my family, friends, people I’ve been working with for years,’’ she says.
stars Josh Hutcherson, Elizabeth Banks and Jennifer Lawrence.
‘‘I wouldn’t be anything without them. They’re always there, no matter what. Everyone else can leave you, but they can’t.’’
Her parents played an integral role in kicking off her career, her mother travelling with a 14-year-old Lawrence to New York to meet agents.
When offers rolled in, they were wary of letting their young daughter jet off alone, but Lawrence’s two older brothers convinced them to let her go.
By 2006, she had a number of guest roles on TV shows including Monk and Cold Case. A year later, she won a part in a TV sitcom which ended in 2009, a year before Winter’s Bone was released.
Lawrence has become something of a spokesperson for having realistic female role models on screen. She has been quoted many times saying she will not be pressured into starving herself and even revealed a recent employer told her if she didn’t lose weight, she’d be fired. Lawrence ignored the threat – a bold, and seemingly rare, move for a young Hollywood star.
‘‘I’m just so tired of this idea of the perfect body, beauty and weight,’’ she says. ‘‘I remember being a young girl – you just cling on to anything you see, you’re just so susceptible.
‘‘So I think it’s important for girls to not just have one body image stuck in their mind, and the idea that that’s perfection.’’
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire opens today.