Jennifer Lawrence is not someone who gets intimidated easily, but she’s a wreck when meeting Viola Davis. “This is the biggest honor of my life,” she says before paying her a heartfelt compliment. “Your performance in ‘Fences’ changed my life,” she says of Davis’ Oscar-winning role opposite Denzel Washington. 

In the past decade, Lawrence and Davis have changed the face of movies, each in her own way. Today, though, coming together to talk about their craft, they realize just how much they share. From stories about the highs and lows of motherhood to taking on an industry that believes male actors are a more valuable commodity at the box office, Davis and Lawrence are trailblazers who stand at the top of their field.

This year, both actors return to the awards conversation in passion projects they also produced. With “The Woman King,” Davis “did the weight training five hours a day, six days a week, for three months at 56” in order to play Nanisca, the leader of a group of all-female warriors in 1823 West Africa. For Lawrence, “Causeway,” in which she plays Lynsey, a soldier who comes home to New Orleans after suffering a traumatic brain injury, represents a return to her indie roots.

Jennifer Lawrence: I think that “Woman King” is the best movie I’ve seen this year, hands down, and the best movie I’ve seen in so long. I heard an interesting story about how it came to you.

Viola Davis: Maria Bello presented me with an award at Skirball Institute. And instead of presenting it traditionally, she pitched the idea of this movie, which she’d written a treatment for and was shopping around town. She said, “Wouldn’t everyone want to see Viola in ‘The Woman King’?” Everyone cheered. They stood up. And I remember that was the moment I thought to myself, “Sit down. It’s just never going to happen.”

Read the full conversation here as part of Variety’s Actors on Actors, presented by Amazon Studios.