Jennifer Lawrence always knew she’d be famous.
Yeah, she said it. But it’s not what you think.
The zany and eclectic young star, who started her career at age 14 when she was photographed by a model scout in New York’s Union Square, captured our hearts while doing the media rounds during awards season. She tripped over her Dior dress at the SAG Awards, boldly faced the customary wardrobe malfunction headlines, sassed late-night talk-show hosts and freaked out — fan-girl style — when she met Jack Nicholson. All that and she also took home a lead actress Oscar for “Silver Linings Playbook” to boot.
The soon-to-be-23-year-old “American Hustle” actress (her birthday is Thursday, though she speaks as if it has already passed) covers Vogue’s September issue and talks love and her franchise projects: “The Hunger Games” sequel “Catching Fire” in which she returns as strong-willed tribute Katniss Everdeen, and the next “X-Men” film, “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” in which she reprises her role as blue, shape-shifting mutant Mystique. The “chameleon” opens up about her childhood and what it’s like to get wildly famous out of the blue.
Here are some of our favorite quotes from Jonathan Van Meter’s “seven-hour bender” of an interview in which Lawrence flashes between comedic and serious in an instant, both in real life and on set:
On why she thinks sponges can be the harbinger of relationships: “I wake up earlier in the morning when I have new sponges. That counter doesn’t even see it coming,” she said. Ex-boyfriend and “X-Men” costar Nicholas Hoult “would never wring them out. We were in the kitchen once, and I picked up the sponge, and it was soapy and wet, and I was like, ‘See?’ These are the kinds of things that make me think we are never going to work.”
How her co-workers describe her: Her “Hunger Games” costar Woody Harrelson: “She is one-of-a-kind, man. She is so herself. I love how she doesn’t censor herself. She says the most outrageous.... Just incredible, the stuff she’ll say.”
Her “Silver Linings Playbook” and “American Hustle” director David O. Russell: “She grew up with these two older brothers, so she will do an off-color joke that will shock you and make you laugh so hard. And then she just moves on.”
Jodie Foster, who directed her in “The Beaver” with Mel Gibson: “It’s one of the things that I love about her the most — her rapid-fire teenage-boy-humor brain.”
Her take on her “American Hustle” character Rosalyn, who is wife to Christian Bale’s character in Russell’s 1970s film: “Rosalyn is 100% a product of David’s imagination,” she said. “She’s a manic-depressive alcoholic, and I couldn’t wait. Plus, I got to make out with Christian Bale.” (Russell describes Rosalyn as “a character who is kind of an unhinged, intense, manipulative, brilliant but also soulful and heartbreaking Long Island housewife. And that was exciting to her. [Lawrence] has a genuine, in-her-blood joy in the inhabitation of other people.”
Her “funny” family dynamic: “My mom is big funny,” Lawrence said. “She’s loud funny. And my dad is the opposite — the funniest person you will ever meet, but he never raises his voice. He’s just really quick. Very subtle.... We definitely grew up funny. ... You have to be funny in our family to survive, because we are so mean to each other.”
She’s taken on nonstop projects because she loves acting: “I couldn’t say no. And then when I was on set, I was like, ‘This is so much more important than a vacation. It’s so much better for my brain to be creatively stimulated in this way.’ It reminded me: This is what I love.”
Her openness about her “unhappy” childhood: “Look,” she said. “I grew up in Kentucky, I have brothers, we had to do sports, I was a horrible student, and I kept getting grounded every time my report card came out. Acting was never an option. It wasn’t like, ‘Oh, well, you got a C in math; you’re grounded. But you can be an actor!’
“I was a weirdo,” she said. “I wasn’t picked on or anything. And I wasn’t smarter than the other kids; that’s not why I didn’t fit in. I’ve always just had this weird anxiety. I hated recess. I didn’t like field trips. Parties really stressed me out. And, I had a very different sense of humor.”
But despite that, she always knew she’d be famous, which brings us to...
She knew she was destined for greatness: “I’ve never said this before, because there is no way to say it without it being completely misunderstood, but ever since I was really little, I always had a very normal idea of what I wanted: I was going to be a mom and I was going to be a doctor and I was going to live in Kentucky. But I always knew that I was going to be famous. I honest to God don’t know how else to describe it. I used to lie in bed and wonder, Am I going to be a local TV person? Am I going to a motivational speaker? It wasn’t a vision. But as it’s kind of happening, you have this buried understanding: Of course.”
How she explains the parallels between her transformation from normal to famous to Katniss’ transformation in “The Hunger Games”: “When ‘Winter’s’ Bone’ was getting nominated [for an Oscar] I had only done indies, and suddenly I was introduced to this brand-new world where I didn’t feel like myself. I was in these weird gowns and listening to people talk about things I didn’t understand. And I remember reading that in [‘The Hunger Games’] and being like, Oh, my God, I know exactly what this feels like. I don’t know what it’s like to get ready for your death, but I do know what it’s like to be almost a puppet. And then when I was making the second film, I had become more acquainted with that world, and I think that’s something that Katniss experiences. She is different when she comes back [in ‘Catching Fire’]. She does feel more comfortable in the Capitol; she understands the people more, and it’s not as eerie and scary and unfamiliar. She kind of knows how to work the system.”
On why she’s not loving being recognized in her everyday life: “I’m just really starting to feel like a monkey in a zoo.” She calls her celebrity “a dangerous topic.”
“I teeter on seeming ungrateful when I talk about this but I’m kind of going through a meltdown about it lately,” she said. “All of a sudden the entire world feels entitled to know everything about me, including what I’m doing on my weekends when I’m spending time with my nephew. And I don’t have the right to say, ‘I’m with my family.’
“If I were just your average 23-year-old girl and I called the police to say that there were strange men sleeping on my lawn and following me to Starbucks, they would leap into action. But because I am a famous person, well, sorry, ma’am, there’s nothing we can do. It makes no sense,” she added. “I am just not OK with it. It’s as simple as that. I am just a normal girl and a human being, and I haven’t been in this long enough to feel like this is my new normal. I’m not going to find peace with it.”
How she stays grounded: “Justine is with me,” she said of her friend of four years who has been working as her assistant. “So it’s kind of like, this consistent thing in my life. I’m still doing what a 23-year-old should be doing, which is hanging out with my friend and being normal. I still have to put the dishes away. And I still have to listen. When you’ve been doing press for a very long time, you talk about yourself constantly. My biggest fear is that I’m going to take that into the real world.”
Why she’s “starstruck” by her “X-Men” costar James McAvoy: “Because he knows what’s important: He has a wife, he has a baby, and he has a calm peacefulness about him that comes from just knowing that this is what life is about.”
OK, how can you not love her already?
Vogue’s full September issue hits newsstands Aug. 20.
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