Jennifer Lawrence to play ‘East of Eden’s’ ‘psychotic monster’

Jennifer Lawrence's role as Cathy Ames in "East of Eden" will be a departure from the gritty heroine parts she has played in past films.
(Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

Jennifer Lawrence, scrappy star of “The Hunger Games” franchise and imaginary BFF to the world, has signed on to portray one of American literature’s great sociopaths.

Lawrence will play Cathy Ames, the beautiful, depraved mother of twin sons in a forthcoming adaptation of John Steinbeck’s “East of Eden.”

Set up as a two-film series at Universal Pictures and Imagine Entertainment, the project will reteam Lawrence with her “Hunger Games” director, Gary Ross.


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In his 1952 novel, set in California’s Salinas Valley, Steinbeck described Cathy Ames as a “psychotic monster.” In the course of the sprawling story, she murders her parents, abandons her children and poisons the madame at the brothel where she works as a prostitute.

The role will be a departure from the gritty heroine parts Lawrence has played in movies like “Winter’s Bone” and “The Hunger Games,” and the appealingly odd girl-next-door portrayal that won her an Oscar for 2012’s “Silver Linings Playbook.”

Lawrence won’t be the first actress to inhabit Steinbeck’s villainness. Elia Kazan’s 1955 film adaptation of “East of Eden” is best known for launching the career of James Dean, but it also earned a best supporting actress Oscar for Jo Van Fleet in the Cathy Ames role. And in 1982 Jane Seymour won a Golden Globe for playing the role in an ABC mini-series adaptation.

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Lawrence, 23, is tilting naughtier in her recent film choices.

Later this year, after “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” opens in November, she’ll play the femme fatale wife of a con man (Christian Bale) in David O. Russell’s “American Hustle,” which is due in December.

No start date for the “East of Eden” project has been announced.


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