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Jennifer Lawrence Builds Herself; New Hollywood Formula: Multiple Stars

Thompson on Hollywood By Sophia Savage | Thompson on Hollywood August 12, 2010 at 5:29AM

-W Magazine's September issue features eight young actresses they call "The Brave Ones." The most notable is Winter's Bone 20-year-old breakout Jennifer Lawrence, who tells interviewer Lynn Hirschberg: "I don't feel young." Indeed, compared to her twenty-something peers, she seems wise beyond her years. The New Yorker's David Denby wrote that Sundance jury prize winner Winter's Bone "would be unimaginable with anyone less charismatic playing Ree…She’s more believable as a heroic character than any of the men we’ve seen peacocking through movies recently.” When teenage Lawrence was gunning for the lead role of Ree Dolly, the issue was that she was too pretty. She recalls flying the red-eye (which helped her to look more ragged) to New York to audition a second time: suddenly her prettiness wasn't an issue. She tells Hirschberg, “There are actresses who build themselves, and then there are actresses who are built by others...I want to build myself.”
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Thompson on Hollywood

-W Magazine's September issue features eight young actresses they call "The Brave Ones." The most notable is Winter's Bone 20-year-old breakout Jennifer Lawrence, who tells interviewer Lynn Hirschberg: "I don't feel young." Indeed, compared to her twenty-something peers, she seems wise beyond her years. The New Yorker's David Denby wrote that Sundance jury prize winner Winter's Bone "would be unimaginable with anyone less charismatic playing Ree…She’s more believable as a heroic character than any of the men we’ve seen peacocking through movies recently.” When teenage Lawrence was gunning for the lead role of Ree Dolly, the issue was that she was too pretty. She recalls flying the red-eye (which helped her to look more ragged) to New York to audition a second time: suddenly her prettiness wasn't an issue. She tells Hirschberg, “There are actresses who build themselves, and then there are actresses who are built by others...I want to build myself.”

Lawrence is hungry for the role in the film adaptation of the Willian Styron novel Lie Down in Darkness (currently in development); “I have this feeling of protectiveness over characters I want to play. I worry about them—if someone else gets the part, I’m afraid they won’t do it right; they’ll make the character a victim or they’ll make her a villain or they’ll just get it wrong somehow.” She plans on writing the project's director and convincing him the part (which Hirschberg calls a "doomed southern belle") should be hers. She is already set to play Mystique in X-Men: First Class, a role she initially rejected. After reading the script she was impressed and agreed to do it. It will be a far cry from her role as Ree Dolly; she'll be naked and painted blue and endowed with superpowers. Another post on the road to becoming a movie star.

Thompson on Hollywood

-The NYT notes a new "New Hollywood Formula:" star-packed films. They note that recent years have seen more films "thick with cast and characters" as opposed to the "lone wolves and duos" that used to carry flicks and franchises (think The Expendables vs. Die Hard). It's not just that there are multi-hero comic movies a-plenty. Scott Pilgrim producer Marc Platt told the Times that he doesn't know if storytelling patterns are changing, but rather that with less films being made and salaries declining, actors just "want to go to work." (Ensemble casting also allows producers and studios to pay their actors less.) Film historian David Thomson suggests that these ensemble films "give[s] you a palette with a lot more color," and markets to a wider audience demo, yet sometimes compromise the integrity of the story. It's a multi-faceted issue: the bottom line according to Roger Ebert is that "cast size has nothing to do with whether a picture is better or worse." Often these handfuls of stars lure wide audiences to films that ultimately disappoint; multiple star power may raise fruitless expectations more than delivering good movies.

[Jennifer Lawrence photo courtesy W Magazine]

This article is related to: Box Office, Directors, Franchises, Genres, Headliners, Hollywood, Daily Read, Media, Marketing, Independents, Drama, Action


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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.