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Tuesday 25 September 2018

Lawrence's blaze of glory

Jennifer Lawrence had a rather abrupt introduction to worldwide fame.

Aged 20, and having previously appeared in just a handful of films, the actress was nominated for an Oscar and a Golden Globe, among other accolades, for her role in the dark film Winter's Bone.

She was promptly thrown into the crazy realm of red carpets, flashing cameras and intrusive headlines, which ironically mirrored the experiences of Katniss Everdeen, the heroine of a trilogy of books she was reading called The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.

Katniss voluntarily takes her younger sister's place in a televised fight-to-the-death battle called The Hunger Games, which sees two teenagers randomly picked from each of the 12 districts of Panem, where they live, and forced to compete in the brutal contest.

In the first film, Katniss survives the Games and, like Lawrence, has fame thrust upon her.

"I remember knowing exactly how that felt, to be shoved into those dresses that don't feel like you, saying these words that don't sound like you, and feeling like a puppet," 23-year-old Lawrence recalls.

Two years after reading the books, she had been cast as the stoic heroine in the first of The Hunger Games films.

 

EMBARRASSMENT

That, coupled with Silver Linings Playbook which was released the same year and saw her win a Golden Globe and Best Actress Oscar, along with a string of other awards, catapulted her to A-list Hollywood fame.

And then there was the acceptance of said Oscar, which was nearly as talked-about as the accolade itself. Walking up to collect the award while wearing a voluminous gown, Lawrence stumbled up the stairs. She pulled it off with style, but admits that the embarrassment is only now subsiding.

"I can't say that a certain remedy or thought made me feel better, time just went by and I could stop slapping myself every single time I thought about it," she says, looking chic in a black and white tailored outfit and sporting her freshly cropped hair.

As for plans to avoid future mishaps, she says she's going to use sheer willpower.

"And maybe I will try to focus more when I'm walking – I think I need a high-heel boot camp," she says. "I was just at my brother's wedding and we had to walk down some stairs and I thought, 'I can't fall again, I just can't'."

The focus is back on Lawrence as the latest Hunger Games film, Catching Fire – in which Katniss and fellow Games winner Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) are forced to return to battle – is hitting screens, but, she reveals, she's slowly getting used to the attention.

"It's not this ambiguous scary monster, you know how to move around it," she says.

Keeping her grounded, it seems, are her family and friends. "I have a very close bubble around me – my family, friends, people I've been working with for years," she says.

Her family are very important to her. "I wouldn't be anything without them," she says. "They're always there, no matter what. Everyone else can leave you, but they can't."

Indeed, her parents played an integral role in kicking-off her career, her mother travelling with a 14-year-old Lawrence to New York to meet acting and modelling agents.

When the offers started rolling in, they were wary of letting their daughter jet off on her own, but Lawrence's two older brothers convinced them to let her go.

By 2006, she had a number of guest roles on TV shows including Monk and Cold Case.

A year later, she won a part in American sitcom The Bill Engvall Show, playing the daughter of the Pearson family on which the programme was based. The show ended in 2009, a year before Winter's Bone was released.

During her relatively short time in the spotlight, Lawrence has become something of a spokesperson for having realistic female role models on screen.

 

STARVING

Over the past few weeks she has been quoted many times saying she will not be pressurised into starving herself in an attempt to be stick-thin. She has even revealed that a recent employer told her that if she didn't lose weight, she'd be fired. Lawrence ignored the threat. A bold – and, sadly, seemingly rare – move for a young Hollywood star.

"I'm just so tired of this idea of the perfect body, beauty and weight," she says. "I remember being a young girl – you just cling on to anything you see, you're just so susceptible.

"So I think it's important for girls to not just have one body image stuck in their mind, and the idea that that's perfection."

It's refreshing to hear, and her attitude makes Lawrence stand out among her generation of actresses.

Plus her role as Katniss – a strong, independent and healthy-looking heroine – has only furthered her status as a good role model.

"She's the strongest character I've ever read," says Lawrence. "Having a character like Katniss, I think that's important."

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is released on Thursday

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