Wednesday, 28 March 2012

The Naked Truth: Jennifer Lawrence

[The Naked Truth is a feature celebrating the lives and careers of the most talented women that pop culture has to offer. The fact they're also all incredibly gorgeous is just a great excuse to post as many stunning images of them as possible. You can see more of this sort of thing at Flixist's Some Like It Hot feature.]

The Hunger Games is one of the most talked about movies of 2012 - read my review here - down in no small part to its sensational leading lady, Jennifer Lawrence.

There's no question Hollywood is already resplendent with gorgeous young actresses, but what makes Lawrence stand out is that she's as gifted in the latter category - being an actress - as the former two. As Katniss Everdeen, she's found a role representing that rarest thing in blockbuster movies: a woman every bit as strong, clever and self-reliant as the men against whom she's fighting. Having already been acclaimed for outstanding previous performances in indie and blockbuster movies alike, there's no question of Lawrence being as assured of a place among the superstars as in fanboy hearts and other happy places.

Follow me on my own tribute to everyone's favourite tribute. She's talented, tomboyish and terrifically titillating. Jennifer Lawrence, welcome to your Naked Truth...

Jennifer Shrader Lawrence was born on August 19th 1990 in Louisville, Kentucky. She grew up with two brothers, Ben and Blaine, whom she remembers fondly in her recent interview with David Letterman...

She starts talking about her family from roughly the 5:35 mark. It's worth watching the entire interview, however, because she's hilarious and adorably bawdy, with a sensational line in self-deprecation. If you're a man and make it through the entire twelve minutes without falling in love with her, perhaps consider going out with other guys? Just a thought. Anyhow, the fraternal influence was obviously strong on her, since she grew up with the nickname 'Nitro' and participated in all kinds of traditionally male-dominated sports, including playing on an otherwise all-boys basketball team.

At the age of 14, she was spotted by a talent scout on the streets of New York, who convinced her to be an actress, took her photograph and sent her to auditions. Her first roles were small television parts, on dramas such as Monk and Cold Case. It's difficult to find images from those early years, though, so here she is in a red swimming costume, because why not...

Her first notable accolade came from the Los Angeles Film Festival, where she won the 2008 Outstanding Performance Award for The Poker House - starring alongside the also-excellent Chloe Grace Moretz, later to be known as Hit-Girl in Kick Ass and kicking Jack Donaghy's ass in 30 Rock - which IMDB describes as 'A dramatisation of Lori Petty's teenage years spent in small town Iowa.'

She also won an award for her next, more prestigious project, starring with Charlize Theron and Kim Basinger in The Burning Plain, a twisted-narrative drama by Amores Perros screenwriter, Guillermo Arriaga. The movie itself was not well-received, with only 34% of the 73 reviews on aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes proving positive, but Lawrence picked up the Marcello Mastroianni Award for Best New Young Actress (wow, is that descriptive) at the Venice Film Festival.

Lawrence's major breakthrough came two years later, playing Ree Dolly in the 2010 adaptation of Daniel Woodrell's novel, Winter's Bone. Directed by Debra Granik, the film follows the seventeen-year-old Ree as she struggles to keep her family and life together in the face of an onslaught of cruelty, misogyny and abject poverty. The film won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2010 Sundance Festival and a nomination at 2011's Academy Awards, where Lawrence was also nominated for Best Actress, the second youngest person to ever receive such an honour.

In the best response possible to fears of being typecast as the sexless, heavy-hearted indie girl, Lawrence jumped at the opportunity of doing a sexy photoshoot for Esquire magazine.

Just in case mankind wasn't already convinced of her sexbomb credentials, she then appeared on the Oscars red carpet wearing what can only be described as the greatest dress in awards ceremony history.

2011 saw Lawrence expanding on her early promise with a strong supporting performance in Like Crazy, in which she played Anton Yelchin's shamefully overlooked American girlfriend. If anything breaks the reality of that film, other than abject boredom, it's that Yelchin's character barely bats an eyelid at dismissing Lawrence the moment his ex appears on the scene. I adore Felicity Jones as much as any man, but choosing between her and Lawrence is a decision of colossal sexual magnitude, not to be dismissed lightly.

She then did a photoshoot for GQ...

... Before appearing in Jodie Foster's controversial movie, The Beaver, which isn't nearly as much fun as it sounds despite starring Mel Gibson as a depressed dad talking to a hand-puppet. The movie was shot in 2009 but delayed due to the latest of many appalling outbursts from its Australian star, then quietly given a small release with little advertising. Lawrence made the most of her supporting role as Norah, the daughter of Gibson's character.

Perhaps as a result of that Esquire shoot, she was signed up in the key role of the young Mystique in X-Men: First Class. This role put on screen Jennifer Lawrence nude and painted blue, a sight arousing all kinds of mixed feelings mercifully resolved when director Matthew Vaughan finally gave fans the sight they had all been waiting for...

Having proven she had what it took to star in (and steal) a blockbuster movie, she was quickly signed up to play fair toxophilite* Katniss Everdeen in the high profile adaptation of Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games trilogy. Although fans were enthusiastic about Lawrence's potential for giving an excellent performance, given the character's similarities to Ree from Winter's Bone, questions were raised about her age, naturally blonde hair and whether a darker skinned girl should have been chosen.

Needless to say, Lawrence proved all her doubters wrong from the moment she first appeared on screen. Critics have lauded her as an 'ideal screen actress' who shows 'impressive gravity and presence' (Todd McCarthy, Hollywood Reporter), whilst Roger Ebert described her as 'strong and convincing in the central role'. Rolling Stone's Peter Travers waxed lyrical about the performance, saying: 'Lawrence reveals a physical and emotional grace that's astonishing. [...] 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.'

And, of course, it goes without saying that she makes a cracking brunette.

With the movie setting box-office records for its opening night showings, Lawrence has been traveling the world, drawing considerable attention for her excellent eye for picking dresses both stylish and saliva-drainingly sexy.

So what does the future hold for Miss Lawrence and, more importantly, what reasons will she have for digging through her wardrobe for more delightfully skimpy dresses? Well, there's The House At The End Of The Street later this year, a horror in which its star will definitely at one point be sweaty and wearing a vest...

...while roles in Devil You Know, The Silver Linings Playbook and the now inevitable Hunger Games sequels, Catching Fire and Mockingjay, will also be on their way. Good for her, and indeed, us.

So that's Jennifer Lawrence's Naked Truth. As brilliant as she is beautiful, as showstopping on-screen as in swimwear. We're going to see a lot more of her in the future, where she will certainly be a fixture of red carpets and awards stages, on the silver screen and (hopefully) magazines. While her curves are definitely a contributor to her ridiculous sex appeal, it's her talent as a multifaceted actress and bold sense of humour in interviews which really make her stand out in an industry dominated by attractive faces with zero personality. She's a girl on fire if ever there was one.


*Word Of The Week doesn't run anymore, but if it did, toxophilite would be this Friday's entry. Noun: A student or lover of archery. Adjective: Anything related to archers or archery. One of my favourite words.

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