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Passengers (2016)

Woman of the week: Jennifer Lawrence

Oscar winner, sex symbol and Red Sparrow, we look at the actress’ career so far…

Jennifer Lawrence thinks acting is stupid. Or so she said in a 2013 interview with Vanity Fair. It’s a refreshingly down-to-earth attitude in an industry stuffed with egos and divas, but the 27-year-old has always made a concerted effort to stay grounded, and not get cocky about her success.

And what success. She may have only landed her first leading role in a film a decade ago, but Lawrence has already been nominated for 175 major acting awards, winning 75 – of which you can count an Oscar and a BAFTA, three Golden Globes and a Guinness World Record for Highest Grossing Action Heroine. Not a bad haul.

With Red Sparrow hitting cinemas this week, a tale of seduction and espionage set against the chilly backdrop of the Cold War, Lawrence finds her latest memorable role. But what characters have led her to this latest project, and how is the young actress changing Hollywood for the better?

Winter’s Bone and early success

Woman of the week: Jennifer Lawrence
Winter's Bone (2011)

Lawrence was raised with two brothers, and believes she has grown up ‘tougher’ as a result. Considered a misfit during her youth, due to her hyperactivity and social anxiety, she passed time by playing softball, horseback riding and joining an all-boy’s basketball team coached by her father.

"How is the young actress changing Hollywood for the better?"

It was when she was 14, and the family was on a holiday to New York that a talent scout spotted her on the street and offered her an audition. She signed, was home-schooled in Los Angeles and began acting in television. Several roles in small films followed, culminating in her casting in Winter’s Bone, a small scale-drama based on the novel of the same name.

Lawrence’s first lead, as a teenage girl tasked with locating her missing father in the bleak Missouri Ozarks, the role gained critical acclaim, and landed the young actress an Oscar and Golden Globe nomination for best actress.

Breaking into big franchise territory

After a spate of dramatic roles, Lawrence’s search for something a little less serious landed her the role of Mystique in Matthew Vaughn’s X-Men: First Class. This was the first of many portrayals of the character – the latest of which will be released this year and see Lawrence donning the blue body paint for a fourth time.

2012 also saw Lawrence hit the franchise big-time with The Hunger Games, in which she played the heroine Katniss Everdeen. She became proficient in yoga, archery, rock climbing and hand-to-hand combat for the film, and was praised for embodying a strong female role model for younger viewers.

Continued awards success

Woman of the week: Jennifer Lawrence
American Hustle (2014)

Between her roles in these franchise juggernauts, Lawrence found the time to star in a slew of critically-acclaimed films from David O. Russell. From Silver Linings Playbook – the film that won Lawrence her first Oscar at just 22 – to American Hustle, she was described as “some kind of miracle. She’s rude, dirty, funny, foulmouthed, sloppy, sexy, vibrant, and vulnerable, sometimes all in the same scene, even in the same breath.”

Her third collaboration with Russell, Joy, saw the young actress play a troubled single mother who becomes a successful businessperson after inventing the Miracle Mop. Although the film wasn’t as universally-acclaimed as her other work with the director, it did garner Lawrence her fourth Oscar nomination – making her the youngest actress in history to accrue so many nods.

Recent projects and Red Sparrow

Woman of the week: Jennifer Lawrence
Red Sparrow (2018)

By last year, Lawrence’s films had grossed over $5.6 billion at the global box office, and she was named the highest earning actress in the world in both 2015 and 2016 – with yearly earnings peaking at $52 million.

"By last year, Lawrence’s films had grossed over $5.6 billion at the global box office..."

More recent projects have included Passengers, where Lawrence’s Aurora Lane wakes up 90 years too soon from an induced spaceship hibernation – a role notable for her billing above male co-star Chris Pratt. She also starred in Mother!, a psychological thrilled from Darren Aronofsky. Lawrence’s role was one of the only positives critics could pull from the film, which was panned.

This week, Lawrence can be seen returning to the world of hand-to-hand combat and action heroism, in Red Sparrow. Playing Dominika Egorova, Lawrence stars alongside Joel Egerton’s mysterious CIA agent in a taut tale of sex, spies and ballet – for which Lawrence trained for four months. Next up, the actress will star as a photojournalist for Steven Spielberg – the latest role in her award-winning career.

All up to speed with JLaw? Now check out Margot Robbie, a previous Woman of the Week…

Further Reading