By Lucia Peters and Krutika Mallikarjuna | Apr 14, 2013 | Betty Confidential, Buzz Feed, Wikipedia
Think you know everything there is to know about Silver Linings Playbook star Jennifer Lawrence? Think again!
Congratulations Jennifer Lawrence for winning her first Oscar for Silver Linings Playbook! Even though these days she’s most well known for her ongoing portrayal of Katniss Everden in The Hunger Gamesseries, this talented gal has been a busy bee for years. She first burst onto the scene in 2010 with her powerhouse performance in Winter’s Bone, and we’ve been following her massively promising career ever since. You probably have, too—but how much do you really know about her? We’ve dug up a couple of facts that might surprise you, like what her childhood nickname was and how she scored her first job. So here you go: A crash course in everything you need to know about Jennifer. Let the games begin!
1. Jennifer Shrader Lawrence was born on August 15, 1990. That makes her 22 years old. (And it makes the rest of us feel REALLY old.)
2. She’s from Kentucky—Louisville, to be exact. Her mother, Karen, runs a summer camp for kids there, and her father, Gary, used to run a construction business (he sold it a number of years ago). She also has two older brothers, Ben and Blaine, who still live there.
3. Jennifer is sort of the black sheep in her family (though a much-loved one!): Growing up, most of their activities were related to sports and athletics.
4. Her nickname growing up? “Nitro”—because she was always so hyper. We prefer to think of it as “energetic.”
5. She graduated from high school not one, but two years early so that she could pursue acting. Smartypants!
6. Jennifer acted in church plays when she was younger, but she has no formal training. She did, however, play Desdemona in Shakespeare’s Othello at Kentucky’s Walden Theater when she was 14.Charlie Sexton, Walden Theater’s artistic director, said of Jennifer, “[She] stood apart from the standpoint of seeing herself in a career. Most eighth-graders weren’t thinking that far ahead, but she was ready to get to L.A.“
7. Though she got to L.A. eventually, she headed to New York first—right after finishing up Othello. She told her parents that she wanted to act professionally, so they took her to the Big Apple to try to find an agent.
Jennifer in her breakout role, Ree, in Winter’s Bone.
8. Although her mother said that initially, they just wanted to get the acting bug out of their daughter’s system, the trip to New York turned out to be a good move: While watching some street dancers one afternoon in Union Square, Jennifer got approached by a man scouting for an H&M commercial, who snapped her picture and snagged her info. The agents started calling shortly thereafter; indeed, the agents she read for told her mother that she gave the best cold read by a 14-year-old they had ever heard. She subsequently spent the summer in the city, with her family members taking it in turns to stay with her.
9. Jennifer owns a Yorkshire terrier named Alden. Awwww.
10. Her first notable job came in 2007, when she was cast as comedian Bill Engvall’s daughter, Lauren Pearson, on The Bill Engvall Show. Alas, it was canceled after three seasons.
11. The early cancelation ended up not being too bad of a thing, though; in fact, Jennifer ultimately sees it as a blessing. “At 15, I signed a seven-year contract,” she said. “Then I realized that I had an absolute passion for deep, dark indie movies, which is the exact opposite. I love the show, and I love the people on it … but if I had to turn down a movie for the show, I would die. That was always my biggest fear.” Onward and upward, eh?
12. Before her breakout performance in Winter’s Bone, Jennifer actually starred in another dark indie drama: The Burning Plain, which was written and directed by Babel’s Guillermo Arriaga and costarredCharlize Theron. Though the film was an entrant in the Venice Film Festival, it only had a limited theatrical release, so don’t be surprised if you’ve never heard of it.
13. And then came Winter’s Bone in 2010. Jennifer beat out 200 (!) other actresses for the role of Ree Dolly, a poor 17-year-old raising her two young siblings in the Ozarks while trying to look for her missing, meth-cooking father. Director Debra Granik said that one of the main things that landed Jennifer the part was her sensitivity to the circumstances and her comfort with the Ozark accent. The accent was particularly important; said Granik about her audition, “Jennifer was comfortable with the accent, and it made her reading really pop. For the first time I felt like I was really hearing Ree.”
Jennifer at the 2011 Oscars.
14. Jennifer was nominated for 27 awards for her work in Winter’s Bone. 27! Including a Golden Globe, an Independent Spirit Award, a SAG Award, and an Oscar! She won 9 out of the 27. Not too shabby.
15. That squirrel she cuts open in Winter’s Bone? It’s real. “I should say it wasn’t real, for PETA. But screw PETA,” she said. Sorry, PETA.
16. Unlike fellow Oscar-nominated newcomer Hailee Steinfeld, Jennifer didn’t waste any time when it came to getting busy with more work—in 2011, she starred in three high-profile films: The Beaver, Like Crazy, and X-Men: First Class. She met her (now ex, sadly) boyfriend, Nicholas Hoult, on the set of X-Men: First Class. Remember the kid from About a Boy? He grew up into Hank “The Beast” McCoy. Nice.
17. While shooting X-Men: First Class in London, she lived in the chi-chi Notting Hill neighborhood. Alas, Hugh Grant was nowhere to be seen.
18. Speaking of X-Men: Her Mystique makeup took six makeup artists and a whopping seven hours to apply. Though the process could get a little grueling, Jennifer actually had a lot of fun with her makeup artists; she described it as “like a sleepover. Except I’m naked and being painted.” Take a look behind the scenes here!
19. She gets recognized on the street more in L.A. than she does at home in Louisville; says her brother Ben, “We’ve had a few strangers appear over the past few years, but it’s all been supportive. The funny thing is she gets noticed more in public when we’re in L.A. than she does here in Louisville, so she loves that.”
20. Jennifer has the remarkable ability to separate herself from her characters without having it detract from her performance. In fact, it only adds to it. Here’s what she says about her method(insofar as she has one): “To you it looks emotionally straining, but I don’t get emotionally drained, because I don’t invest any of my real emotions.” She doesn’t take her characters’ pain home with her; “I don’t even take it to craft services,” she quipped. Her reasoning behind the separation is this: “If I’m thinking about me and my life to put fear across my face or make me cry, then I’m reacting as Jennifer, not as Ree [her character from Winter’s Bone].” Makes a lot of sense.
The mighty Katniss Everdeen!
21. What does she use instead of her own emotions? “Imagination. I’ve never been through anything that my characters have been through. And I can’t go around looking for roles that are exactly like my life. So I just use my imagination. If it ever came down to the point where, to make a part better, I had to loose a little bit of my sanity, I wouldn’t do it. I would just do comedies.” How crazy-awesome and mature is that?
22. It was big news when Jennifer landed the plum role of badass huntress Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games. She beat out such actresses as Hailee Steinfeld, Abigail Breslin, Emma Roberts, Saoirse Ronan, Chloë Moretz, Lyndsy Fonseca, Emily Browning, Shailene Woodley, and Kaya Scodelario for the part—though it took her three days to say yes to it. Her mom helped her make the decision: “I called my mom and she called me a hypocrite,” she said, “because when I was doing indie movies and everyone was asking why I didn’t do studio movies, I said, ‘The size of the movie doesn’t matter.’ And she said, ‘Here’s a movie you love and you were thinking of turning it down because of its size.’ I thought, ‘I don’t want to miss out because I’m scared. Me being scared, I never want that to stop me fromdoing something.’ But I knew in my heart that I wanted it — it was about working out all the fears.”
23. She can’t decide if she’s Team Peeta or Team Gale. “I think I was Gale,” she said, “until he started getting a little too trigger-happy… or maybe first Peeta and then Gale, or Gale then Peeta? I went back and forth a lot! I flip-flopped.”
24. One of the best things about Jennifer: She has an incredibly healthy approach to body image. In an interview with Glamour (of all places), she noted that she did a boatload of training to prep for The Hunger Games—lots of running, archery training (of course), hand-to-hand combat, and so on—and that she did in fact follow her trainer’s meal plans to get into shape, she doesn’t diet. Ever. “I do exercise!” she said. “But I don’t diet. You can’t work when you’re hungry, you know?” Score eight million for Jennifer.
25. So what’s next? The odds are definitely ever in her favor: Not only is she on tap for the next three (yes, three) Hunger Games films, but she’s also got The Falling and the sequel to X-Men: First Classcoming up.
Congrats on your many well-deserved wins this award season, Jennifer!
Lucia Peters is BettyConfidential’s associate editor.