Jennifer Lawrence was immediately drawn to the hardened teenage heroine with a steely determination in “Winter’s Bone.”
“I thought it was the best role for a female that I had ever seen,” she says. “I became obsessed with the script. I’m fascinated with people who don’t take no for an answer.”
Set in a tight-knit community deep in the Missouri Ozarks, the adaptation of Daniel Woodrell’s novel tells the story of Ree Dolly, who is raising two younger siblings while caring for their mentally ill mother. Ree is suddenly confronted with the challenge of tracking down their meth-cooking father, who put the house up for his bail bond and then went missing. If he doesn’t show for his court date in a week, the family will be kicked off the property.
After two auditions for the part in Los Angeles, Lawrence was true to the character and herself. She hopped on a flight for the East Coast and yet another chance to make her case with director Debra Granik and producer Anne Rosellini.
“I chased them like a psycho,” she recalls. “Then I had a really long audition in New York, where I either convinced them into hiring me or I scared them into hiring me.”
As it turns out, the filmmakers already were impressed by Lawrence’s stature and talent and were leaning in her direction.
“She looked very physical and athletic, which we always imagined Ree would be, and she had a great voice — a sort of deep, earthy tone quality, which we appreciated,” Rosellini says. “We knew she didn’t sleep much (on the flight), and that may have brought an air of desperation or of haggardness to her that maybe a normal 18-year-old wouldn’t have. Maybe we responded to that.”
Lawrence, who is now 20 and in the midst of shooting “X-Men: First Class” in London, is reluctant to compare herself with Ree.
“She has a strength that I could never possess,” she explains. “Look at her circumstances and everything that is going against her. All she heard was that she was a woman and she wouldn’t be able to pull it off, that there wasn’t enough time. But Ree doesn’t really think of failure as an option. I admire that in people, especially characters.”
Young actresses not looking for celeb status
Annette Bening | Sally Hawkins | Nicole Kidman | Jennifer Lawrence | Natalie Portman | Tilda Swinton
Lead actresses in the mix
Amy Adams | Helena Bonham Carter | Melissa Leo | Miranda Richardson | Jacki Weaver | Dianne Wiest
Supporting actresses in the mix