At age 20, Jennifer Lawrence scored an out-of-nowhere Oscar nomination forWinter's Bone. Even more impressive: This summer she's giving us a reason to see a Mel Gibson film (The Beaver) and yet another X-Men sequel. (Heads up: She's the hot mutant painted blue)
BY DEVIN GORDON
PHOTOGRAPHS BY ALASDAIR MCLELLAN
Unless you were among the tens of hundreds of people who saw Winter's Bone, last year's acclaimed indie thriller about the Ozark meth trade, or the tens of tens of people who saw an episode of The Bill Engvall Show, the unacclaimed TBS sitcom that was canceled in 2009, your grand introduction to Jennifer Lawrence was probably Oscar night back in February. If the name doesn't ring any bells, you'll remember the dress: arrest-me red. Four-alarm-fire red. I'm-20-I'm-hot-and-I'm-already-nominated-for-a-goddamn-Oscar red. Lawrence didn't win that night, but let's just say we couldn't tell you what Natalie Portman wore.
In June's X-Men: First Class, the franchise reboot-slash-origin story set in the 1960s, Lawrence's color palette shifts to electric blue. She plays the budding mutant Mystique, a fleshy role that was first inhabited on-screen by Rebecca Romijn—which means the series is graduating from an actress with a body for the part to one who can actually play it. Englishman Matthew Vaughn directs, and he didn't need to see Winter's Bone for proof that Lawrence was right for the role. (He still hasn't seen it.) For Vaughn, she was just a no-name girl from Kentucky who popped on her X-Men audition tape. "There are a lot of young American actors right now who haven't got any technique," says Vaughn. "And to be blunt, a lot of these kids assume that just by having a good set of teeth and tits, smiling for the camera's gonna be enough. I needed someone who could act."
Whatever he saw, it's contagious. Jodie Foster cast Lawrence in this month's dark comedy The Beaver, now better known as the movie Mel Gibson finished just before he Mel Gibson'd again. And Lawrence just locked up the most coveted young-actress role in Hollywood: the lead in The Hunger Games, based on the dystopic best seller about a teen huntress forced to compete in an annual contest where kids battle to the death. Lawrence is quickly cornering the market on steely chicks with molten cores, and Vaughn says it's because "she's got a set of balls on her." Teeth, tits, technique—and testicles, too? Let's get back to that dress.
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