When someone hits snowy summits early on in their career, it can be a difficult task to remain on the cutting edge of one’s craft. This trait has been seen in scores of actors over the years; just because you put in a couple of blockbusting performances early on doesn’t mean you’ll maintain that trajectory for life. One or two poor decisions and a dose of misfortune can see the most celebrated actors consigned to a pit of obscurity. As for Jennifer Lawrence, a few poor movies saw her shine come off in the mid-2010s.
After several promising roles in her teen years, Lawrence caught a significant tailwind in 2011, starring as the mutant Mystique in the X-Men franchise; this was followed a year later by her pivotal leading role in the first of the immensely popular Hunger Games movies.
The dizzying combination of Hunger Games exposure and winning the Best Actress Oscar in 2013 – for David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook at the age of 22 – pushed Lawrence to new heights of fame, deeply affecting her preconceived career path.
“I lost a sense of control between Hunger Games coming out and winning the Oscar,” she said, reflecting on her rollercoaster acting journey at the BFI London Film Festival in 2022. “I felt like every decision was a big group decision. I think of those following years as a loss of control and then a reaction to try and get that back.”
After achieving so much at such a young age, Lawrence began to lose grip on her career direction. In a recent interview with The New York Times, she revealed that she felt her fans slowly turning away after the final Hunger Games movie in 2015. “I was like, ‘Oh no, you guys are here because I’m here, and I’m here because you’re here,’” she said. “Wait, who decided that this was a good movie?’”
Later in the interview, the actor revealed that her nadir was the 2016 sci-fi romance film, Passengers, in which she starred alongside Chris Pratt. The film was a box office flop, and as Lawrence revealed, her friend, British singer Adele, warned her against taking the role. “Adele told me not to do it! Lawrence told.” The New York Times. “She was like, ‘I feel like space movies are the new vampire movies.’ I should have listened to her.”
In 2018, upset with a run of disappointing films, Lawrence left her agency, CAA, in order to take back control of her career. “I felt like more of a celebrity than an actor,” she said, “cut off from my creativity, my imagination.”
“I found out that a lot of filmmakers that I really loved and admired had scripts that weren’t even reaching me,” she added. “I had let myself be hijacked.”
Over the past couple of years, Lawrence has been busy establishing her production company, Excellent Cadaver. In September 2022, the company’s debut production, Lila Neugebauer’s Causeway, saw Lawrence return to career comfort in indie film.