In a mere six years, Jennifer Lawrence has blazed past every marker of Hollywood stardom, with no sign of slowing down: next month’s science-fiction romance Passengers will be followed by movies with Steven Spielberg, Adam McKay, and Darren Aronofsky. In unreal circumstances, Lawrence is learning to assert herself as a real person, whether that means equal pay, privacy, or never being a bridesmaid again.
The bar of the Plaza Athénée, an elegant Upper East Side hotel, is empty save for an elderly French couple sipping Bordeaux at two P.M. when in bursts a tall blonde crackling with energy. It is Jennifer Lawrence, wearing a black cashmere sweater, jeans ripped at the knee, and black boots, her platinum hair chopped into a chic bob. Delicate gold jewelry circles her wrists, neck, and fingers, and her most pronounced accessory, a security team, looms nearby.
She orders tea and explains, “I am playing a ballerina in my next movie, so my first step is not drinking alcohol for every meal of the day. Obviously I’m still drinking every day,” she adds, in the same engaging, infectious manner America has come to love.
While most millennials are navigating student debt and entry-level employment, Lawrence, who turned 26 in August, hasn’t so much achieved the Hollywood dream as crushed and re-invented it by blazing an unprecedented career trajectory. In the past five years, she has won an Oscar (in 2013, for Silver Linings Playbook), earned three additional nominations (for Winter’s Bone, American Hustle, and Joy), collected three Golden Globes, gone full superhero in the $4-billion-grossing X-Men series, and fronted the nearly $3-billion-grossing Hunger Games franchise. With her next film, Passengers, Sony’s science-fiction romance, opening December 21, Lawrence has joined Julia Roberts in an elite league of actresses who have commanded $20 million for a movie. (Lawrence will also reportedly receive 30 percent of the film’s profits after it breaks even.) While Roberts reached this paycheck peak when she was 32 (for Erin Brockovich), Lawrence has already done so, a mere six years after skyrocketing out of obscurity. (For additional perspective, Passengers marks Lawrence’s 20th film, while Meryl Streep did not appear on-screen in a feature film until she was 28.) Continue reading