In her new film, Red Sparrow, Jennifer Lawrence plays an ex-ballerina who is enlisted by a secret intelligence service to use her talents as a state weapon. For the role, JLaw not only had to keep to a strict diet to look the part of a ballerina, she had to appear nude on screen for the first time in her career. Over the past week, she’s fielded a lot of questions about the experience and her decision to do it at all and her answers have been pretty incredible.
In a 60 Minutes interview the actress told Bill Whitaker that she was hesitant about taking on the role since her private nude photos were hacked and distributed online in 2014. She said that she loved the Red Sparrow script immediately but the nudity held her back until she realized the film could be a chance to use her body on her own terms.
“I realized there’s a difference between consent and not,” she said, “And I showed up for the first day and I did it. And I felt empowered. I feel like something that was taken from me I got back and am using in my art.”
“I did feel like I took the power out of having my body taken from me,” she added, “I felt like I took it back and I could, I could almost own it again.” When asked if she’s concerned audiences won’t interpret her nudity in the same way, Lawrence says she’s come to terms with that.
“I was [worried], but it doesn’t matter,” she said, “It’s my body and it’s my art and it’s my choice. And if you don’t like boobs, you should not go see Red Sparrow.” Fair enough.
Lawrence expressed the same sentiments in her Vanity Fair cover story this month and added that the initially terrifying nude scenes were made more manageable and even comfortable because she was working with Hunger Games director Francis Lawrence.
“He looked me right in the eyes like I had clothes on and then all of a sudden I was like, ‘Oh, okay, it’s just like I have clothes on,'” she said, “Everybody here is professional. You’re still at work. One look just made me comfortable. It didn’t make me feel naked.”
A well-known lover of pizza and eating in general, Lawrence wasn’t thrilled about the disciplined diet and workout regimen she had to keep up for the film. Last fall she added to the voices of the Me Too movement when she detailed a story of Hollywood abuse where she was made to stand nude in a lineup of other actresses and told to lose weight. Her comments to Vanity Fair were classic Lawrence though: body positive and obvious about her love for food.
“I’ve always wondered what it would take to get me to really diet, to really be hungry, because I’ve never done it for a movie,” she said, “For Hunger Games, they told me to lose weight, and then I discovered Jack in the Box. Red Sparrow was the first time that I was really hungry, and disciplined. I can’t be in character as an ex-ballerina and not feel like an ex-ballerina.”
To make things easier on Lawrence, the director scheduled all the shooting of her ballet sequences first so she would be in the best shape. JLaw says that once those scenes were done, “all bets were off.”
“I can’t work on a diet. I’m hungry. I’m standing on my feet. I need more energy,” she told the magazine, “I remember having a meltdown, freaking out that I had eaten five banana chips.”
“I discovered this Viennese kielbasa sausage in an uncircumcised French-bread roll, with pickle relish,” she recalls, “I had that almost every day in Budapest — which you can see, because I continue to grow in the movie. Dieting is just not in the cards for me.”
If you need any more reason to love JLaw (which we can’t imagine you do), when she appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to promote the movie, she kicked off her shoes and knocked back three shots of rum during the interview. Enough of these complex characters, can’t we just have a full movie of Jen just being Jen?
— The Late Show (@colbertlateshow) February 27, 2018