Jennifer Lawrence is at the forefront of a group of actresses who are redefining what it means to be a leading lady in Hollywood today. She is the Version 2.0 of the girl-next-door archetype—now upgraded with razor-sharp wit and a self-deprecating humour that have charmed audiences who prefer their actresses with dimension off-screen, too. This is one red-carpet goddess who prefers to kick back in t-shirt and jeans, but when the time calls for it, has no problems stepping into a glamorous Dior gown with pomp and finesse.
The beauty that radiates from Lawrence isn’t of the same cookie-cutter calibre we’ve come to expect from the factory that is Tinseltown. Her bold, no-holds-barred honesty feels like a breath of fresh air in an industry rife with predictable statements stitched together by publicists. She is frank and not afraid to speak up on what’s plaguing the movie-making business, such as the time she penned the letter, “Why Do I Earn Less Than My Male Co-Stars?” The piece ruffled some feathers, but it highlighted Hollywood’s gender pay gap and deep-rooted sexism, in turn shifting the magnifying glass on issues affecting women on a broader scale.
What makes all her achievements even more significant, is that the 27-year-old Kentucky native has risen to the top of the league in a very short amount of time. Lawrence’s upward ascent began in 2010, after clocking in a memorable performance in the 2010 sleeper hit, Winter’s Bone. A string of high-profile roles followed, including the part of Mystique in the X-Men film series and Katniss Everdeen, the heroine in the live-action remake of the Hunger Games books. Lawrence’s career hit an enviable crescendo when she clinched the Best Actress accolades at both the Golden Globe Awards and the Academy Award for Silver Linings Playbook in 2013 (the latter was when she infamously tripped in front of the whole world while going onstage to collect her prize, and the snafu eventually launched a thousand memes).
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2018 sees a string of films coming up for Lawrence and her latest release is the Francis Lawrence-directed Red Sparrow. In the thriller, she plays Dominika Egorova, “a dancer in the Bolshoi Ballet who was drafted against her will to become a ‘sparrow,’ a trained seductress in the Russian security service.” “Dominika learns to use her body as a weapon, but struggles to maintain her sense of self during the dehumanising training process,” Lawrence offers. “Finding her power in an unfair system, she emerges as one of the programme’s strongest assets.” As with her previous projects, Lawrence is drawn to the role of Dominika because it ultimately challenges society’s treatment of women. “I think that all women can relate to having—being treated differently than men our whole lives. We’ve always had to find different ways and angles of getting what we want and becoming successful professionally.”
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What drew you to Red Sparrow?
I first heard about Red Sparrow on the press tour of the last Hunger Games movie. It was a book that Francis had been reading, and he thought it would be an interesting movie. Then, when I finally had the opportunity to read the script, it was an easy yes. It’s a smart, sexy and intense thriller about a secret programme that trains young agents in the psychological art of seduction.
How did you prepare to play this role? Was it physically demanding to train to play a ballerina who becomes a spy?
There was a lot of physical preparation that went into this film for me. For the ballet scenes, I did a lot of training for three months every day, four hours, just really, really intense ballet training. It taught me posture and transformed my body. I also learned a lot about the discipline of the art. And the level of discipline… [it takes up] so many years of their lives [that] it comes to play in everything that they do. The way they carry themselves, the way they handle themselves, and the way they work. So it was something that was constantly on my mind, even after we had wrapped all of the dancing sequences. I also worked closely with a dialect coach, with Tim Monich, who’s a genius and helped me craft the Russian accent.
What do you think audiences can expect from this film when they see it?
I mean, you can definitely expect to be taken on a dark adventure where you do not know what is about to happen next. There are so many twists and turns. It’s a really smart thriller, and exciting.
You’re also known, of course, for your association with Dior. How does it feel to be the face of such a storied House?
Being the face of Dior is a tremendous honour, and to be able to be a part of a House with a rich history is something I don’t take for granted.
What do you think of Maria Grazia Chiuri’s vision of femininity, feminism and gender equality as the first female Artistic Director of Dior?
She’s an inspiration to us all. Beyond designing beautiful clothes by a woman for a woman, she is redefining glamour.
According to you, what does it mean to be a feminist today? Would you consider yourself a feminist?
Yes, being a feminist literally means equality of the sexes.
What’s your signature look, in your private life versus on the red carpet? Has your personal fashion style evolved since you started working with a fashion House?
My personal life-style is pretty casual, and my red-carpet style has definitely evolved as I have gotten older, and inevitably that probably has to do with Dior and having the opportunity to be dressed in the best clothes.
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With at least one major movie once a year, between filming and touring, there isn’t a lot of free time left. How do you spend the free time you have?
I have been on a real work break for a couple months now, and it has been nice. Obviously, I spent much of the fall promoting Mother!, and now we’re on to Red Sparrow, but I am taking my time to choose the next film I want to do. I’ve been reading a lot and meeting directors that I want to collaborate with. And I’ve been able to spend time with friends and just take it easy which, surprisingly, has been nice.
Photographed by Norman Jean Roy
Styled by Jill Lincoln and Jordan Johnson