Jennifer Lawrence, a little closer to the stars



Revealed at 20, Oscar winner two years later, Jennifer Lawrence fell on Hollywood like a meteorite. But who really knows her? Just before the global success of Don't Look Up, she confided in Karen Valby about her acting doubts, her fascination with Meryl Streep and her desire for motherhood. 

I'm super nervous! It's been so long since I spoke in the press. Our Zoom conversation has just begun, and Jennifer Lawrence seems a little anxious, even though she has lost none of her outspokenness. “I obviously want to protect all these new accomplices that have appeared in my life…I'm stressed for myself, and for you; and I think it also stresses me out for the readers! The actress crosses her arms over her loose gray sweater. The framing of her webcam leaves her belly out of sight, but everyone knows: she is expecting a child, the main “accomplice” mentioned just now. Behind her is a sparsely furnished room with bare, faded walls. She has very long hair and slowly rocks back and forth on a rattan rocking chair. She is in a rental apartment in New York with her husband, gallery owner Cooke Maroney, waiting for the completion of the work on their large Manhattan house. The stripped-down atmosphere seems to have been designed to discourage prying eyes. Jennifer is so keen to protect her privacy that she had to repatriate Pippi, her beloved dog, to her parents' farm in the depths of Kentucky: the paparazzi tracked down their every walk in Central Park.

After three good years of eclipse, Jennifer Lawrence returns to public life and on the screens. In Don't Look Up, the film directed by Adam McKay. She and Leonardo DiCaprio play two astronomers trying somehow to alert their often skeptical fellow citizens to a comet on its way to destroying the planet. This is her very first comedy, as she is about to give birth to her first child. There is also something almost comical in seeing her resurface, pregnant, in the media.

In 2018, Jennifer Lawrence wanted to take a break. She was one of the highest paid actresses in the world, while reflecting the image of an extremely accessible star. The kind of very “natural” girl with whom we would have gladly had a drink, an icon in spite of herself, the kind to trip over her dress while going to get her Oscar. But his last films (Passengers, Mother! Red Sparrow and the Dark Phoenix episode of the X-Men franchise) ended in commercial or critical failures. “And above all, she tells us today, I had the feeling that I was not giving my maximum. I was not going for the quality of performance that I should have achieved". She adds, “I think people got tired of seeing me. Me too, I was tired of myself. I have spent most of my life wanting to please others, and my work has helped me a lot to feel loved. For a long time I told myself that by going to shoot, no one could think that I was zero. And there, I had the impression of having arrived at a point where my mere existence was no longer enough to satisfy people. I stopped believing that work was the only way to find peace."

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For her best friend and co-producer, Justine Polsky, “Jennifer felt that the obligations of her fame were starting to kill her creativity. So she decided to disappear, which was probably the best way to protect her talent. And to protect herself. She continues: “The first time I met Jennifer Lawrence, she was 20 years old and had just been cast for Hunger Games. We were in Santa Monica, California, and during archery practice she had told me about her secret hope of one day filming with Adam McKay. She told me that she had even visited him in his office a year earlier. What the person confirms: “I had received a phone call, she wanted to meet me, recalls McKay. She had come with a bundle of notes on my films, we had spent an hour discussing Step Brothers. I said to myself: “I love this girl, she is like us: she likes stupid stuff.” »

Crash and rum miniatures

Jennifer Lawrence is now 31 and expecting a child, but what she feels, besides impatience, is too sacred to be shared. "I'm not yelling at people who ask me questions, but I still have a very strong protective instinct, it's physical: I want to do everything so that my children live without people coming to snoop around. in their existence. These years away from the cameras taught him to make choices, to express himself more firmly, and not to worry so much about pleasing. It's not always easy: right after telling me these new resolutions, she begs me to excuse her to go to the bathroom, but she forgets to put her microphone on pause. She returns a minute later, laughing and embarrassed. For the young woman, the private-public barrier is like her house in Manhattan: under construction.

"They say what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, but frankly, I totally disagree" Jennifer Lawrence

She tells me a much less trivial story, which happened in the summer of 2017, shortly before her break. At the time, she had just finished filming Mother! directed by her current boyfriend, Darren Aronofsky. A film quite trying for the spectators, and we imagine for her too, since her character (spoiler alert) is burned alive, while a raging crowd devours her newborn baby. Let's say, in any case, that this very pleasant atmosphere must still inhabit her a little when she takes the plane ("A private plane, I admit – yes, I deserve death") to return to New York. Once in the air, she and the other passenger hear a dull noise: one of the two reactors has just exploded. The pilot reassures them: the second is still working and they will be able to land. But very quickly, everything becomes silent and everyone on board understands that the other reactor has also failed. The device is falling. "Becoming aware of our situation, I had the distinct impression of being nothing more than a skeleton," she recalls. The worst thing for me is that I had taken my dog, he was there, on my knees, he who hadn't asked for anything. I started to pray, not the God of my parents, who was far too harsh and terrifying, but some kind of entity that I asked if we were going to survive. Who knows, maybe he could make us just get burned, but not? And that eventually, I can keep my hair? Miracle: the plane crashes without causing any casualties or injuries. Rescue teams extract the passengers from the carcass. Jennifer has taken a very sturdy anxiolytic, washed down with a few miniatures of rum, and it is in a fluffy state that she is taken to another device to reach New York. "They say what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, but frankly, I totally disagree. Me, this accident really weakened me. I am now terrified every time I have to fly. And I happen to have to fly all the time."

Take down Harvey Weinstein

Among her other traumas, there is the dissemination of private images of which she was the victim in 2014 and which continues to haunt her. “Even today, anyone can take their computer and see photos of my naked body, at any time of the day or night. The Harvey Weinstein affair did not spare her either, even if it was indirectly. To defend himself, the former producer had notably tried to take the actress to witness: he claimed to have had a “healthy” working relationship with her, in order to discredit six young women who accused him of having imposed sexual relations on them. in exchange for "services" in the cinema. Weinstein's lawyers went so far as to quote the actress's words out of context, in a nutshell: "Harvey has always been nice to me.“ Jennifer Lawrence completes today, with a bitter smile:” So, obviously, because he was nice to me, it is impossible that he raped anyone – but of course! Another victim of the producer also reported that he told her, "I slept with Jennifer Lawrence and look where she is now!" »

At the evocation of this memory, the future mother raises her hands in disgust. “Women attacked by Harvey thought he was going to help them in their careers. Luckily for me, when I first met him, I was about to win an Oscar, and I was already playing in The Hunger Games. I was lucky to avoid this kind of situation with him. But some men I have met in my career have not always had exemplary behavior. It is certain that the fact of having been successful young gave me a certain power, and spared me painful situations. »

Jennifer Lawrence has long found refuge on film sets. “I was so scrutinized in public life that, oddly, I escaped in front of the camera. Everyone was talking to me normally, no one was there like, "Wow, but that's Jennifer Lawrence, amazing!" Except that by dint of working so much, I ended up exhausting myself. And by asking myself if I agreed to make films because I wanted to make them, or just because the job provided me with a kind of escape. »

During her break, she lived far from the sets and broke with the routine of filming. She was able to enjoy sleeping in, get closer to her friends, get involved in an anti-corruption association (RepresentUs), and even set up her production box with her old accomplice Justine Polsky. While she was constantly escorted by a bodyguard since the success of Hunger Games, she managed to do without it on some occasions. “When Cooke first invited me to dinner, I thought it would be really weird to show up with my bodyguard,” she says. And so I came alone, without a safety net: for the first meetings, I was a little stressed and then I got used to it. I realized that my privacy was better preserved when I didn't have a bodyguard…" She stops for a sip: "I'm not sure it's very prudent to talk about That, she corrects with a smile. I have my security with me all the time, day and night, 24 hours a day. And I have a gun! »

When I pitch her about her plans, Jennifer cites a memory of a discussion with Jodie Foster. “It stayed with me: she said that today, when she looked at her filmography, she understood why she had wanted to shoot such a film at such a time in her life. It turns out that she will soon play a female soldier returning from the war: she suffers from a brain injury and seeks her place in an uncertain life. When she accepted the role, Jennifer Lawrence had just gotten engaged: "The script meant a lot to me, because I was healing hidden wounds myself, while entering a more peaceful world, but also more frightening. It's harder to stay than to leave, especially when you've spent your life leaving people and places behind. »

"Jennifer is an instinctive actress, who does not analyze her own acting too much: she carries this gift within her" Meryl Streep

In Don't Look Up, she plays a doctoral student in astronomy, redhead with piercings, with limited patience in the face of politicians and the media who do not want to believe that a giant comet will destroy the Earth. “There is no actress more beautiful than Jennifer when she has to play anger, assures Adam McKay. When she lets go, it's spectacular, you just have to see Happiness Therapy again. After two feature films about corrupt white men (The Big Short and Vice), the filmmaker had in mind a scenario built in part on the innate rage he had perceived in the actress. “I needed a funny and strong female lead, who would tell things as they are, and I immediately thought of her. Jen is perfect for playing this young woman who stubbornly refuses to play the game and who, of course, gets slaughtered for it. It's to break your heart. »

Facing her, DiCaprio excels as a scientist still hoping that the world can change. The irony of the story is that in real life the roles are reversed: "Not long ago I sent Leo an article on nuclear fusion, which according to some studies could slow global warming. I put a little “fingers crossed” emoji but he immediately replied that it would never work. For DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence is one of the most talented artists of our time. "She has an ability to improvise and seize the moment, it's fabulous to watch.“ The two stars have in common to have started their careers very early; they joked about it among themselves during the filming. "When you're a kid and you shoot a scene with food, the adults on set have a technique to keep you from eating: they say it's been 'vaporized', that it's more or less poisoned – which is wrong, of course. So on the set, as soon as I saw Leo eating, I said to him: “Watch out, it’s vaporized!” »

Meryl Streep, who plays a female version of Donald Trump in the film, marvels at how everyone plays her character: "Jen is an instinctive actress, who doesn't analyze her own game too much: she carries this gift within her. , in his being. Leo, on the other hand, sees each role as the fruit of a struggle, knowing that he revels in having to struggle to achieve what he seeks – it is the heart of his work. Both leave me speechless when I look at them. Jennifer Lawrence will no doubt be delighted to read this compliment, she who only thought of one thing on the first day of filming:" Do not annoy Meryl Streep.

During her break, she lived far from the sets and broke with the routine of filming. She was able to enjoy sleeping in, get closer to her friends, get involved in an anti-corruption association (RepresentUs), and even set up her production box with her old accomplice Justine Polsky. While she was constantly escorted by a bodyguard since the success of Hunger Games, she managed to do without it on some occasions. “When Cooke first invited me to dinner, I thought it would be really weird to show up with my bodyguard,” she says. And so I came alone, without a safety net: for the first meetings, I was a little stressed and then I got used to it. I realized that my privacy was better preserved when I didn't have a bodyguard…" She stops for a sip: "I'm not sure it's very prudent to talk about That, she corrects with a smile. I have my security with me all the time, day and night, 24 hours a day. And I have a gun! »

When I pitch her about her plans, Jennifer cites a memory of a discussion with Jodie Foster. “It stayed with me: she said that today, when she looked at her filmography, she understood why she had wanted to shoot such a film at such a time in her life. It turns out that she will soon play a female soldier returning from the war: she suffers from a brain injury and seeks her place in an uncertain life. When she accepted the role, Jennifer Lawrence had just gotten engaged: "The script meant a lot to me, because I was healing hidden wounds myself, while entering a more peaceful world, but also more frightening. It's harder to stay than to leave, especially when you've spent your life leaving people and places behind. »

"Jennifer is an instinctive actress, who does not analyze her own acting too much: she carries this gift within her" Meryl Streep

In Don't Look Up, she plays a doctoral student in astronomy, redhead with piercings, with limited patience in the face of politicians and the media who do not want to believe that a giant comet will destroy the Earth. “There is no actress more beautiful than Jennifer when she has to play anger, assures Adam McKay. When she lets go, it's spectacular, you just have to see Happiness Therapy again. After two feature films about corrupt white men (The Big Short and Vice), the filmmaker had in mind a scenario built in part on the innate rage he had perceived in the actress. “I needed a funny and strong female lead, who would tell things as they are, and I immediately thought of her. Jen is perfect for playing this young woman who stubbornly refuses to play the game and who, of course, gets slaughtered for it. It's to break your heart. »

Facing her, DiCaprio excels as a scientist still hoping that the world can change. The irony of the story is that in real life the roles are reversed: "Not long ago I sent Leo an article on nuclear fusion, which according to some studies could slow global warming. I put a little “fingers crossed” emoji but he immediately replied that it would never work. For DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence is one of the most talented artists of our time. "She has an ability to improvise and seize the moment, it's fabulous to watch. “The two stars have in common to have started their careers very early; they joked about it among themselves during the filming. "When you're a kid and you shoot a scene with food, the adults on set have a technique to keep you from eating: they say it's been 'vaporized', that it's more or less poisoned – which is wrong, of course. So on the set, as soon as I saw Leo eating, I said to him: “Watch out, it’s vaporized!” »

Meryl Streep, who plays a female version of Donald Trump in the film, marvels at how everyone plays her character: "Jen is an instinctive actress, who doesn't analyze her own game too much: she carries this gift within her. , in his being. Leo, on the other hand, sees each role as the fruit of a struggle, knowing that he revels in having to struggle to achieve what he seeks – it is the heart of his work. Both leave me speechless when I look at them. Jennifer Lawrence will no doubt be delighted to read this compliment, she who only thought of one thing on the first day of filming: “Do not annoy Meryl Streep.

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