/Film Interview: Jennifer Lawrence Talks ‘Hunger Games: Catching Fire,’ Why She Likes Promoting ‘X-Men’ and…Han Solo?
Posted on Friday, November 22nd, 2013 by Germain Lussier
At 23, Jennifer Lawrence has reached heights most of us never even dream of. She won the Oscar for Best Actress with her second nomination, for Silver Linings Playbook. She stars in a superhero franchise and toplines another of the biggest franchises in Hollywood, The Hunger Games. Without a doubt, she’s one of the biggest stars in the world, yet has somehow managed to remain genuine, funny and unfiltered. Jennifer Lawrence isn’t only America’s sweetheart, she’s everyone’s sweetheart.
So, in short, sites like /Film usually don’t get to speak to her, especially not for a film as highly anticipated as The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. But you ask nicely, expect to get turned down, and then somehow find yourself outside a hotel room, the only online outlet who’ll be speaking one on one, in person, with Hollywood’s darling. No pressure.
While I can’t gauge my performance, Lawrence did not disappoint. Even after two full days of non-stop press, Katniss Everdeen herself snuggled up on her hotel room chair, slippers and all, and spoke eloquently about the pathos in Catching Fire, its political messages, shooting with IMAX cameras, her duties as reigning Best Actress, how often she gets out to the movies, Short Term 12, “texting Fassbender” (yes, that one), why promoting X-Men movies can be better than Hunger Games and the insane Internet notion she could play a female Han Solo. Read the full interview below.
In this film, even with all the action, you get this sense the government is always there and pushing down on characters.
Yeah, and the cruelty gets to a mind-blowing level. She can’t even say goodbye to her family.
The film has a prevalent message of “rising up.” Do you think it’s something that will inspire kids to activism?
If there is a younger generation that feels like they do need to speak against something, then I hope that they do. I hope that they will. It’s hard to be one voice and be the singular, lowest, District 12, couldn’t-get-further-away young girl. [It's hard] to just be one voice in a world that’s wrong. I think that it’s important to show how big that is, because they think we so easily become sheep, the society [as a whole] and especially the younger generation. We just kind of follow everybody in front of us and are very into doing what’s cool without having the actual political information. And so the fact young adults love this as much as they did, that it sold as many copies as it did, was exciting and I think says a lot.
Katniss is sometimes frustrating because she’s so reluctant to be the hero. As an actress, do you find it hard to exhibit that restraint?
Yeah, I mean, some. I find it frustrating ’cause I want her to be the hero. I want her to be the, you know, ‘Of course you’re gonna do this, of course you want to lead the rebellion. Tell them that you’ll be the Mockingjay, no doubts.’ But I’m playing a real girl that is stuck. The only thing that she wants, and what makes her a true hero, is she wants as little death as possible. She doesn’t want a war to get revenge. She wants to fix the situation and I think the cruelty of the Capitol gets to a place where you can’t not do something, you know? You have to act.
You have some great one-on-one scenes with Donald Sutherland and Philip Seymour Hoffman. You’re in a position where you’re their peer. Do you geek out when you think about like ‘Oh my God, I’m gonna work with these guys?’
Yes. I did. You know, before you meet them. And then you meet them and they’re just Phil and Donald and you can have fun. But there are… I’d be lying if I didn’t say that there are ‘Pinch me’ moments every single time…when I’m doing a scene with Phil Hoffman or even having Julianne Moore on our cast now. It’s just like I’m watching them and I’m, ‘Are you guys really in our movie? Is this really happening?’ It’s really remarkable. And I of course never tell them that ‘cause, you know. But it is, it’s total pinch me moments.
Just how loud are the IMAX cameras really?
Oh my God, they’re like lawnmowers.
Does that break your concentration? You have a lot of close-ups in the last act of the movie [with the IMAX cameras].
It’s mostly upsetting ‘cause Josh [Hutcherson] and I would look at each other knowing that we would just have to ADR everything.
As a recent Oscar winner, one of your duties is to present Best Actor next year. Have you started to watch any of the possible nominees?
God, I tried to see 12 Years a Slave three times. It was sold out every time. I’ve gotta text Fassbender and be like “12 Years a Slave is doing really good!”
Do you catch up and watch all those things? Or just as much as you can when you’re not working?
Yeah, as much as I can. I definitely do. Yeah, I would never vote without having an actual real opinion. That would be very dangerous.
What are your moviegoing habits? Do you watch Netflix, or go to the theater?
Fall is my favorite time to go to the movies ‘cause that’s when all the great movies are out. And it’s also starting to get cold, so I really enjoy going to the movies in the fall.
My favorite film so far this year, besides Catching Fire of course is Short Term 12.
Oh my goodness, oh don’t even get me started on Short Term 12. I’ve watched that on my iPhone.
Oh God, no way.
I had no idea. I thought that it was just a clip that the producer had sent me. And then it started into the whole movie and I was standing holding my iPhone for two hours just crying. Oh I love that movie.
And you’re gonna be working with [Short Term 12 director] Destin Cretton at some point?
Yes. I think he could be one of our great new up and comers.
You’re also developing a lot of different projects with Gary Ross and other different people. Is the ability to do that the best part of your fame?
Yeah. Well just like there’s no limit to the storytelling and also the, I mean, I get to work with some of the greatest in the business that I’ve worked with before, which is even better, that I already have a relationship with. It’s great.
Back to Catching Fire for a second, there’s are many people that are so funny in these movies. Who was the hardest to keep a straight face with?
Oh… Oh my God, that’s so hard. They both… it’s impossible, ‘cause they were both absolutely hilarious on and off camera. But on camera, I was saying earlier, that is my greatest, proudest acting moment is not laughing in scenes with Caesar [Stanley Tucci] when he’s interviewing me and when he’s talking about anything.
How many takes do you think one of the Caesar things would generally take because Tucci’s got that big smile and he’s yelling in your face?
I mean, he nails it every time.But he has to do the long days like the rest of us. I’m sure his cheeks were tired.
Is it a pleasure to do a movie like this where the books are out there and you can talk about spoilers as opposed to X-Men where you have to not say anything?
Yeah, in some ways, but then in other ways, it just means you have to keep talking more. With X-Men I can just be ‘Oops, can’t talk about it.’ And then that’s the end of it.
Earlier today you mentioned you did American Hustle instead of resting. How do you decide when you want to stop? What is the process of figuring out what’s next?
It’s only emotional and instinctual. It has nothing to do with schedule unless it’s something that I can’t do because of my schedule. Then there’s no point in me reading it. But I just read it and if I feel something and if I feel, you know, sometimes… it’s they’re like dates, you know? Sometimes you can have a perfect date but you just don’t feel anything. Now, I read it and sometimes it’s ‘I’m dying to be this person. I think I could do this. I think I have good ideas. This will challenge me. This will be exciting for me’ Or something or anything, whatever it is. And then I work around it. But doing American Hustle was better than a vacation because it was just creatively just recharging.
Did you hear people saying they wanted you to play a young Han Solo in the new Star Wars movie?
I can’t play a young Han Solo. [Laughs] That’s awful.
I just think people thought you had the swagger and the charisma to do that kind of thing.
Oh my God, that’s awesome. Can I do that?
I don’t know. Apparently they’re making a prequel spin-off movie, but, you know, they’ll probably go male. But I think it’d be awesome.
Yeah, it’ll probably be male, but I have always wanted to play a man.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire opens November 22. Check back tomorrow for our full review.