Jennifer Shrader Lawrence (born August 15, 1990) is an American film and television actress. She had lead roles in TBS's The Bill Engvall Show and in the independent films The Burning Plain and Winter's Bone, for which she received critical acclaim and nominations for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture Drama and Academy Award for Best Actress. At age 20, this made her the second youngest actress ever to be nominated for an Academy Award. She also played Mystique in X-Men: First Class. In 2012, Lawrence starred as the heroine Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games, an adaptation of Suzanne Collins' novel of the same name. The film marked her as the highest grossing action heroine of all time and garnered her commercial success and praise from critics.
Lawrence was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky, and has two older brothers. Her parents are Karen (née Koch), who runs a children's camp, and Gary Lawrence, who once owned a concrete construction firm, Lawrence & Associates. She acted in local theater and, by the age of 14, had decided to pursue an acting career, persuading her parents to take her to New York City to find a talent agent. Although she had no training or experience, she received high praise from the agency for which she auditioned. She graduated from high school two years early in order to begin a career in acting.
2006–09: Early work
Lawrence was in the main cast of the TBS comedy The Bill Engvall Show, playing the eldest daughter of Lauren Pearson. Written and created by Bill Engvall and Michael Leeson, the show is set in a Denver suburb and follows the life of 'Bill Pearson' (played by Engvall), a family counselor whose own family could use a little dose of counseling. The series went on the air in September 2007 and was canceled in 2009 after three seasons.
Lawrence had guest-roles in the television series The Devil You Know, Cold Case, Medium, and Monk.
In 2008, she appeared in a small role in the film Garden Party as Tiff. It was directed by Jason Freeland. The same year, Lawrence appeared on the big screen in Guillermo Arriaga's film directorial debut The Burning Plain, opposite Charlize Theron and Kim Basinger. Her performance in the film earned her the Marcello Mastroianni Award for best young emerging actor/actress during the Venice Film Festival in 2008.
Still in 2008, she had the lead role in another film director's debut, Lori Petty's family drama The Poker House, opposite Selma Blair and Chloë Moretz, where Lawrence starred as Agnes, a young girl victim of abuse. She appeared in the music video for the song "The Mess I Made", from the 2009 album Losing Sleep by Parachute.
Lawrence's lead role in Debra Granik's Winter's Bone, which won best picture at the Sundance Film Festival in 2010, is generally cited as a breakout performance for her. She portrays Ree Dolly, a seventeen-year-old in the Ozark Mountains who cares for her mentally ill mother and her younger brother and sister. Ree then discovers that her father put their house and land up as a bond for a court appearance before he disappeared, and the family now faces eviction.
The performance was highly acclaimed by film critics. David Denby, writing in The New Yorker, said "the movie would be unimaginable with anyone less charismatic playing Ree." Lawrence received an Oscar nomination for Best Actress from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, for the role, on January 25, 2011. She is the second-youngest person to date to be nominated for the category.
Lawrence had a role in The Beaver, a dark comedy starring Jodie Foster and Mel Gibson that was filmed in 2009, but which spent an extended period of time stalled due to controversies surrounding Gibson. It was released on May 6, 2011. Lawrence co-starred in the independent film Like Crazy, which premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and received a wider release by Paramount Pictures.
In June 2011, Lawrence appeared as shape-shifting villain Mystique in X-Men: First Class, a prequel to the rest of the X-Men film series. Lawrence's Mystique is a younger version of the character played by Rebecca Romijn in earlier X-Men films. Lawrence is also set to star alongside Elisabeth Shue in Mark Tonderai's thriller House at the End of the Street, which completed filming in 2010 and is in post-production.
Lawrence has never taken any drama classes/lessons for acting. She lived in New York City for the first few years of her career, but resides in Santa Monica, California. Lawrence was cast in The Silver Linings Playbook, opposite Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro. She was originally cast to play "O" in the film Savages, but dropped out to film The Hunger Games instead.
On June 18, 2011, it was announced that Lawrence was invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, an invitation that included that year, her Winter's Bone co-star John Hawkes.
The Hunger Games
"It has epic spectacle, yearning romance, suspense that won't quit and a shining star in Jennifer Lawrence, who gives us a female warrior worth cheering...Lawrence reveals a physical and emotional grace that's astonishing. Give her the deed, because she owns this movie. It's not just that Katniss makes Twilight's Bella Swan look like the wimp she is, it's that Lawrence, 21, is an acting dynamo with the skills to let us into Katniss' searching mind. Last year, Lawrence won an Oscar nomination for playing an Ozark girl in Winter's Bone. She's just as affecting this time, lending primal force to this dystopian fable of a society out of sync with human values. My advice is to keep your eyes on Lawrence, who turns the movie into a victory by presenting a heroine propelled by principle. She makes Katniss revolutionary. May the odds be ever in her favor"
Peter Travers from Rolling Stone on Lawrence's performance in The Hunger Games (2012)
In March 2011, Lawrence was cast as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games, which was released on March 23, 2012. She had an accident on the last day of the six-week training phase, but was not severely hurt. On March 23rd, the film earned a record-breaking amount at U.S. midnight screenings for a non-sequel film, grossing $19.7 million. Its opening weekend gross was the largest for any film released outside July and the third-largest of all time making a record breaking 152.5 million.
Though the film generally received positive reviews, Lawrence's portrayal of Katniss Everdeen was the most highly praised with Todd McCarthy from The Hollywood Reporter saying Lawrence "anchors" the whole film "with impressive gravity and presence", and ultimately called her "the ideal screen actress". Frank Swietek said that Lawrence is "the one ingredient of the film that can be described as outstanding" and continued to praise her for "conveying the character's strength and vulnerability in equal measure. None of the other young actors comes close to matching her". Ann Hornaday from the Washington Post praised Lawrence for playing Katniss as the "eagle eyed heroine" and for "combining the unapologetic aggression of Artemis with the girlier wish-fulfillment fantasies of a bemused Cinderella." Roger Ebert also agreed that "Lawrence is strong and convincing in the central role".
Lawrence starts filming the adaptation of the second novel in The Hunger Games trilogy, Catching Fire, this summer, which is scheduled to be released on November 22, 2013.