JEN­NI­FER LA­WRENCE

Numéro - - English Text - By Oli­vier Joyard

An Os­car win­ner at the pre­co­cious age of 23, and an ac­tress who in­car­nates her times, Jen­ni­fer La­wrence in­tel­li­gent­ly al­ter­nates block­bus­ters and films d’au­teur, all the while de­fen­ding her po­li­ti­cal convic­tions, such as her sup­port for the mo­ve­ment #Ti­me­sup. This au­tumn she dazzles in a film di­rec­ted by Fran­cis La­wrence (of

Hun­ger Games fame) to ac­com­pa­ny Dior’s new fra­grance Joy, of which she is the of­fi­cial face.

The fi rst t ime I met Jen­ni fer

La­wrence, in Lon­don at the be­gin­ning of the 2010s, she’d just been no­mi­na­ted for the first time for an Os­car, for her role in De­bra Gra­nik’s in­die hit Win­ter’s Bone, in the best ac­tress ca­te­go­ry. She was 20 and had fire in her eyes. It wouldn’t be un­til three years la­ter that she fi­nal­ly won the sta­tuet te, in Da­vid O. Rus­sell’s Hap­pi­ness The­ra­py, a deep and sty­lish ro­man­tic co­me­dy in

Like Ju­lia Ro­berts, Jen­ni­fer La­wrence has

so­me­thing of that all-Ame­ri­can ma­gic found in girls who hail from nei­ther the ci­ty

nor the coasts, but who grew up in the sun­shine of the prai­ries. La­wrence was

born in Ken­tu­cky, land of blue­grass and cheer­lea­ders – and, in­deed, she was a

mem­ber of a cheer­lea­ding squad in high school. While she has ne­ver set out to de­ny

her ori­gins on the bor­der of the Mid­west and the Deep South, she knew ear­ly on, for

am­bi­tion’s sake, that she’d have to leave her ho­me­land pret­ty qui­ck­ly. And at just 14, while on ho­li­day in New York, she was spot­ted in the street by a ta­lent scout.

which she star­red op­po­site Brad­ley Coo­per. But al­rea­dy, in this luxu­ry Lon­don ho­tel over­run by a horde of or­di­na­ri­ly bla­sé jour­na­lists, you could feel a sort of ten­sion in the air, as if those present had the vague fee­ling that they were mee­ting so­me­thing other than just the sen­sa­tion of the year, in ac­tual fact an ac­tress who was des­ti­ned for a ca­reer that would be quite out of the or­di­na­ry. She was fun­ny, in­tel­li­gent, mo­ving, a lit­tle bit re­ser­ved, but sure of her worth.

Eight years la­ter, La­wrence has more than ful­filled those

ex­pec­ta­tions. With four Os­car no­mi­na­tions to her cre­dit, she has be­come the youn­gest wo­man to be no­mi­na­ted that ma­ny times in the best ac­tress ca­te­go­ry. For se­ve­ral years now she has been the most high­ly paid ac­tress in Hol­ly­wood, ac­cor­ding to Forbes ma­ga­zine, and her films have made over $ 5 bil­lion world­wide. That’s what’s cal­led mas­te­ring your do­main and rul i n g su­preme. So­me­thing that no ac­tress has ma­na­ged for such a pro­trac­ted per­iod since Ju­lia Ro­berts.

Like the star of Pret­ty Wo­man, La­wrence has so­me­thing of that

all- Ame­ri­can ma­gic found in girls who hail from nei­ther the ci­ty nor the coasts, but who grew up in the sun­shine of the prai­ries. La­wrence was born in Ken­tu­cky, land of blue­grass and cheer­lea­ders – and, in­deed, she was a mem­ber of a cheer­lea­ding squad in high school. While she has ne­ver set out to de­ny her ori­gins on the bor­der of the Mid­west and the Deep South, she knew ear­ly on, for am­bi­tion’s sake, that she’d have to leave her ho­me­land pret­ty qui­ck­ly. And at just 14, while on ho­li­day in New York, she was spot­ted in the street by a ta­lent scout who set her up with po­ten­tial agents.

So be­gan a per­iod in which La­wrence did eve­ry­thing to

maxi­mize her chances, to the point of gi­ving up on re­gu­lar schoo­ling. She al­so ada­mant­ly re­fu­sed to work as a mo­del. So what was it that drove her? A de­sire, she has ex­plai­ned in in­ter­views, to re­con­nect with child­hood sen­sa­tions. She re­calls that when she was a kid, ac­ting in front of her fa­mi­ly or in school plays was a way of ba­ni­shing an­xie­ty and get­ting back her self confi­dence. And it’s per­haps that which makes her so en­ga­ging to­day – this un­chan­ging joy in ac­ting, her simple and na­tu­ral way of trans­for­ming eve­ry set she f inds her­self on in­to a place of free­dom.

The challenge was not ea­sy. Ear­ly on, La­wrence be­gan, with the

sup­ple­ness of a cat, to al­ter­nate in­die pro­duc­tions and block­bus­ters un­til she was ca­pable of just about any­thing. All wi­thout di­so­rien­ting her fans – a rare ta­lent. In 2011, Mat­thew Vaughn’s X- Men: First Class made her a glo­bal star in the role of Mys­tique, a mu­tant who can change form and ap­pea­rance – the per­fect me­ta­phor for an ac­tress. The Hun­ger Games te­tra­lo­gy, in which she played Kat­niss Ever­deen, a re­bel­lious tee­na­ger, pro­ved she was ca­pable of the lea­ding- la­dy role in a mo­vie fran­chise whose fi­nan­cial stakes were co­los­sal. These films al­so char­ted La­wrence’s pro­gress to­wards the sum­mits, sho­wing a young wo­man who was ever more sure of her­self and of her choices. But at the same time one could find her being di­rec­ted by Jo­die Fos­ter in The Bea­ver, star­ring in one of the on­ly contem­po­ra­ry ro­man­tic co­me­dies that can tru­ly be ta­ken se­rious­ly – Hap­pi­ness The­ra­py –, and playing the he­roine in a black- co­me­dy crime mo­vie set in the 70s which be­came an im­me­diate clas­sic, Ame­ri­can Hustle. On each oc­ca­sion, La­wrence was her­self; bet­ter yet, she im­po­sed her own tem­po on each film by ef­fort­less­ly pro­mul­ga­ting her way of being, stri­king home eve­ry time with her in­ten­si­ty and her abi­li­ty to play youth en­li­ve­ned with just a dash of age­less wis­dom.

For this rea­son, des­cr ibing La­wrence as a “young ac­tress”

doesn’t make much sense, and pro­ba­bly ne­ver did. As a re­sult, her sub­sequent ca­reer has been just as ex­ci­ting as her be­gin­nings. In the short di­rec­ted by Fran­cis La­wrence (no re­la­tion) to ac­com­pa­ny the glo­bal re­lease of Dior’s per­fume Joy – of which Jen­ni­fer is the face – she ra­diates, in just a few leg mo­ve­ments in a Be­ver­ly Hills pool, an au­ra of eter­nal Hol­ly­wood gla­mour; she’s a wo­man of 2018 who could have been a star in just about any era, an in­car­na­tion of the contem­po­ra­ry who is ne­ver hin­de­red by the present. “Fran­cis and I have been wor­king to­ge­ther for ma­ny years, no­ta­bly on Hun­ger Games and Red Spar­row. Be­cause he knows me ve­ry well, he was able to in­cor­po­rate se­ve­ral as­pects of my per­so­na­li­ty in­to the film. We tried more to catch emo­tions than to tell a li­near sto­ry. It was as fun as it was ex­ci­ting to work to­ge­ther in this way, in what was an ent i re­ly new ap­proach for us.” Tal­king about the launch of Dior’s Joy, La­wrence im­me­dia­te­ly takes a his­to­ric pers­pec­tive: “Dior hadn’t laun­ched a new fe­mi­nine fra­grance in 20 years. It’s a ma­jor event and a real ho­nour for me to take part in an ad­ven­ture like this.”

Over the past few year s, La­wrence has chan­ged, and not

on­ly be­cause life has made of her the most de­si­rable ac­tress of her times. Ea­ger to rest, she has ta­ken more time to re­flect on her com­mit­ments, one of which is fe­mi­nism, a no­brai­ner in the context of # Ti­me­sUp, which she pu­bli­cly sup­por­ted in ear­ly 2018. “I see my­self as a strong wo­man who holds the reins of her life. There are se­ve­ral wo­men I consi­der role mo­dels. Pro­fes­sio­nal­ly, I was lu­cky enough to work with Jo­die Fos­ter when I was about 18. She gave me va­luable ad­vice on life as well as my ca­reer. She’s smart and so­lid with her feet on the ground. Jo­die was a real role mo­del for me. And of course there were my friends, my mo­ther and my fa­mi­ly.” La­wrence likes the simple life (“What makes me hap­py? My dog Pip­pi, my friends and rea­ding”), but there is a constant open­ness in her to pas­sion; her fa­vou­rite book, she says, is Tol­stoy’s tra­gic no­vel An­na Ka­re­ni­na, cer­tain chap­ters of which she’s “read again and again…”

Since Do­nald Trump’s elec­tion as pre­sident of the USA, La­wrence

has de­ve­lo­ped a taste for urgent po­li­ti­cal ac­ti­vism via a bi­par­ti­san or­ga­ni­za­tion which is figh­ting for an ove­rhaul of Ame­ri­can de­mo­cra­cy: “I’m de­vo­ting time to Re­pre­sentUs, which I’ve joi­ned, and whose goal is to en­cou­rage people to get in­vol­ved in po­li­tics. Re­pre­sentUs is the big­gest an­ti­cor­rup­tion cam­pai­gn in the U.S. ac­ting at a lo­cal le­vel, and it unites conser­va­tives, pro­gres­sives and all those in bet­ween. Our goal is to re­pair the Ame­ri­can po­li­ti­cal sys­tem which to­day is bro­ken by cor­rup­tion. We cir­cumvent Con­gress by get­ting an­ti­cor­rup­tion laws pas­sed at state and ci­ty le­vel. These laws pro­tect our com­mu­ni­ties and help create a dy­na­mic for fu­ture na­tio­nal re­form.”

So, be­fore the re­lease of the next epi­sode of X- Men, in Fe­brua­ry

2019, La­wrence clear­ly has her work cut out in realms beyond those of the sound stage and the stu­dio. But Pla­net Ci­ne­ma is still wai­ting for her, and her alone.

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