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Jennifer Lawrence is great at interviews and refreshingly honest, though not by her account.
“I answer questions like we’re at dinner with the first thing that comes to mind, then I read it later and go, ‘I sound like such a weirdo,’ ” Lawrence says with a chuckle. “I’m just going to keep talking until you interrupt me with another question.”
Lawrence doesn’t overthink things, and she shouldn’t. Because success thus far has come from doing what comes naturally.
Take “Winter’s Bone,” winner of the Grand Jury Prize at this year’s Sundance. The film, written and directed by Debra Granik, finds Lawrence playing the 17-year-old head of an Ozark household about to lose the family home. Her character, Ree, has two younger siblings to care for (their mother is incapacitated), and finds herself untangling a knot of crystal meth and mafia-like townspeople.
After parts in “The Poker House” and “The Burning Plan,” Lawrence’s work on this noir-tinged flick garnered deafening cries of “breakout performance.” Naturally, she takes the praise in stride.
“It’s really nice, but it hasn’t really sunk in yet. I kind of hope it doesn’t,” she says. “That’s when you become an a-hole.”
She’s already on to the next thing, in fact, playing Mystique in the upcoming “X-Men: First Class.” (The status of her film “The Beaver” with Mel Gibson is up in the air.)
There’s no denying the intensity in her “Winter’s Bone” performance. Lawrence captures the fragility of this hardscrabble girl, seemingly doing so with ease. It’s even more impressive knowing Lawrence has never taken an acting class, though perhaps that’s the key. There’s no grand analysis to determine, say, how her character would skin a squirrel.
To learn for the film, “My brother’s friend came over with a squirrel he’d shot and we skinned it in my backyard,” she explains.
Quite simply, Lawrence has learned to trust her instincts. She grew up in Louisville and traveled to New York during spring break when she was 14. Wooed by the business, she convinced her parents to let her spend a summer in the city, and was quickly flown out to Los Angeles for screen tests.
When asked what inspired such fervor at choosing an acting career, Lawrence pauses, then likens the feeling to finding a soulmate.
“It didn’t feel like a choice at the time, and it still doesn’t,” she says.
If somebody’s going to interrupt Lawrence’s career with a question, it’s not going to be herself.
LUCKY BREAK: “There was never a moment where I thought, ‘This is my big break.’ You never know what’s going to happen, and you’re an idiot if you act like you do.”
FAVORITE FILM: “The movie I quote the most is ‘Dumb and Dumber.'”
CAREER I’D LIKE TO EMULATE: “Paul Thomas Anderson, Adam McKay and Clint Eastwood”