The actress said, at Monday night’s New York premiere of the film, that the challenging role helped her overcome insecurities, including those surrounding her 2014 photo hack.
“The insecurity and fear of being judged for getting nude, what I went through, should that dictate decisions I make for the rest of my life? This movie changed that and I didn’t even realize how important changing that mentality was until it was done,” she said at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall. “But I also really challenged myself in ways that I never really had before. The foreign accent. The dancing. It was really taking on a very different leaf.”
Lawrence said she was also mentally prepared for the violent, sexually charged film because director Francis Lawrence had warned her in advance about the tough scenes.
“We talked about it extensively, which was really important for showing up on the day and there being no surprises,” Jennifer Lawrence said. “I knew exactly what was going on and also there was one moment he came out to give me a note and just looked at me like I had clothes, and then I just felt like I had clothes on. I was surrounded by professionals and everybody was completely professional.”
Francis Lawrence said he gave Jennifer Lawrence artist freedom. She was “the first person to see the movie as a whole with those scenes to be able to say ‘I’m with it’ or ‘we need to talk and make some changes.’ And she was totally with it. She didn’t have me pull anything.”
“Look, I wasn’t sure she was going to want to do the movie. And I pitched her the idea in general, but I didn’t tell her much about the content,” Francis Lawrence said. “She liked the idea of the character in general, and I sort of filled her in a little bit along the way, but I wanted her to wait for the script. She thought about it, because clearly she knew what the content was going to be. And as soon as she said, ‘I want to do it,’ I said, ‘OK, I’m coming over to your house and we’re having a really frank conversation.’”
The movie, Jennifer Lawrence’s last before her yearlong sabbatical, tackles everything from Russian-American relations and espionage to sex as power — themes that continue to make headlines in the daily news cycle.
Jason Matthews, a former CIA officer with 33 years of service under his belt and author of the “Red Sparrow” novel, said he is not surprised by our current state of affairs.
“I think the Cold War never ended. We’re going through a new Cold War. A second Cold War,” Matthews said. “All the squabbling in Washington — it doesn’t matter if you’re Republican or Democrat — all the squabbling, all the partisanship plays right into the hand of the Kremlin and Vladimir Putin. If we can’t get together, if we can’t make our government run smoothly, the Russians are just clapping their hands.”
While the plot of “Red Sparrow” is fictionalized, it’s based on “the things I did in the CIA, the people I knew” Matthews says. He met with Joel Edgerton to help him wrap his head around what it means to handle a clandestine source.
One of Edgerton’s takeaways was how difficult it would be to date within the field.
“[My biggest takeaway] was just how complicated it would be to have an interpersonal dating-style relationship with somebody if you were in the field. That fact that you would have to report any of those kinds of interactions with your bosses,” Edgerton said. “That seems antithetical to the process of meeting another human being — bringing a third party involved. Right? Like if you’re dating someone, you don’t introduce them to your parents for a while. So when you’re dating and you have to report it to your bosses, it just sounds weird to me.”