Jennifer Lawrence and Viola Davis Get Honest About Action Heroines, Motherhood, and Press Tours That Ruin Acting

Jennifer Lawrence isn’t someone who gets intimidated easily, but she’s a wreck when she meets Viola Davis. “This is the greatest honor of my life,” she said, before giving her a heartfelt compliment. “Your performance in ‘Fences’ changed my life,” she says of Davis’ Oscar-winning role opposite Denzel Washington.

In the past decade, Lawrence and Davis have changed the face of movies, each in their own way. Today, though, when they get together to talk about their craft, they realize how much they share. From stories about the ups and downs of motherhood to dealing with an industry that believes male actors are a more valuable commodity at the box office, Davis and Lawrence are the pioneers standing at the top of their field.

This year, both actors are returning to the awards show in passion projects they’ve also produced. With “The Woman King,” Davis “weight trained five hours a day, six days a week, for three months at 56” in order to play Nanisca, the leader of a group of female warriors in 1823 West Africa. For Lawrence, “Causeway,” in which she plays Lynsey, a soldier returning to New Orleans after a traumatic brain injury, marks a return to her indie roots.

Jennifer Lawrence: I think “Woman King” is the best movie I’ve seen this year, and it’s the best movie I’ve seen in a long time. I heard an interesting story about how it got to you.

Viola Davis Maria Bello presented me with an award at the Skirball Institute. Instead of doing it conventionally, she pitched the idea for this movie, which she wrote a treatment for and had been shopping around town. She said, “Doesn’t everyone want to see Viola in The Woman King?” Everyone cheered. They stood. And I remember that was the moment I thought to myself, “Sit down. That will never happen.”

Alexi Lubomirsky for Diversity

Lawrence: And why do you think so?

Davis: What I would go into is that I am a black actress. And I understand how people perceive that. I do not consider it a hindrance. But when have you ever seen something like “Woman King,” not just with me in it, but anyone who looks like me in it? What studio would put the money behind it? How will they be convinced that black women can lead the global box office? So, yeah, I said, “It’s not going to happen, because you don’t see it.”

And listen, it’s great to sit with you. Because I kind of consider us the same type of actress, in a way. We are not the same, I know that.

Lawrence: I don’t feel worthy of being in the same room as you, but please continue.

Davis: But I feel like what you bring to your performance is exactly what an actor is supposed to bring, which is life. It is the depth of the human experience, its details, joy, tragedy, contradiction and contradiction in every moment. And that’s what you’re supposed to do as an actress. Yes, there is an aspect of technical competence in acting. But with you, that’s what I see. And I think that’s why people are drawn to you. And I think that’s why people are touched by your performance.

Lawrence: Good-bye! I want to return to you being the Woman King. I remember when I was doing Hunger Games, no one would put a woman in the lead in an action movie because it wouldn’t work — because we’re told that girls and boys can identify with a male lead, but boys can’t identify with a female lead. And it makes me so happy every time I see a movie that just comes out with all these beliefs, and proves that it’s just a lie to keep some people away from cinema. To keep some people in the same situations they’ve always been in.

Davis: But how do you feel when you do the bigger support films?

Lawrence: When I was doing “X-Men,” it’s hard not to have a perception of the movie like, “Oh, well, it’s just one of those.” Especially when it’s painted blue with scales all over your face. If you start thinking, “I look ridiculous, I feel ridiculous,” there is nowhere to go.

At “Hunger Games,” it was a big responsibility. Those books were huge, and I knew the audience was kids. I remember the biggest conversation was, “How much weight are you going to lose?” Besides being young, old, and unable to diet, I don’t know if I want all the girls who dress up like Katniss to feel like they can’t because they’re not sure. Weight. And I can’t let that leak out Mine Whether the brain.

Davis: I want to know how many works your love for work has penetrated.

Lawrence: I’ve been doing this since I was very young. When “Hunger Games” came out, I really couldn’t be an observer of life because everyone else was watching me. I can feel my craft suffering. And I didn’t know how to fix it. I was scrambling, trying to fix it by saying yes this is movie and then try to confront it with that Movie. And I didn’t realize what I had to do was that number Movies until something happened to me.

When I read “Causeway,” I didn’t trust myself — I didn’t trust my antenna. I’ve lost a lot of what I felt instinctively. The problem with instincts is that they are not a way to go back.

Alexi Lubomirsky for Diversity

Davis: It’s interesting, especially what you say about instincts – they don’t always work. But I must say that work is probably one of the biggest offenders to my love of work. Because I don’t feel right for the job.

Lawrence: I went to Juilliard. or I was Is it Juilliard?

Davis: Yes, Juilliard. Or should I say prison yard?

Lawrence: prison yard!

Davis: With Juilliard, it was just about technical proficiency. It was about giving you all the building blocks for a makeover for a classic. The only problem with that is, first of all, I can safely say to you and myself, no one wants to watch a play or a movie and look down on technical competence; You want a human experience. You want to feel less alone. They don’t understand that.

When you practice at Juilliard, they have a teacher with a pencil that follows you through the practice and puts the pencil in your mouth to see where your tongue is. And so when it just so happens, and you leave yourself and your soul behind, you are not an artist.

And to top it all off, it’s Eurocentric training. So when you study all of those classics, it’s obvious what all of these characters look like – and that’s not me. So what should I do with me? What should I do with my blackness? What should I do with my deep voice and wide nose?

Lawrence: It’s interesting that you hint that you’re not pretty when I’m sitting next to someone who’s pretty and has a full mouth, strong jaw, big beautiful eyes, and is tall and toned.

For my experience, the biggest barrier to my craft was journalism and interviewing. Every time I’m interviewed, I think, “I can never do that to myself again.” I really can’t. I’m always very self-conscious about my intelligence because I didn’t finish school. I dropped out of middle school.

Davis: You are very clear.

Alexi Lubomirsky for Diversity

Lawrence: Thank you. And you are very beautiful.

Davis: Thank you.

Lawrence: I do not want anyone to know, or Think They know what I am. I’m supposed to be a mirror. I’m supposed to be a ship. You must not look at me and remember that I got married in Rhode Island a few years ago and that my husband is an art dealer. I feel like I’m losing so much control of my craft every time I have to push for a movie and I am Sell This — in particular something like “Causeway,” in which I felt very personal.

Davis: I want to know about Causeway. I want to know what drew you to the story, to the character.

Lawrence: I think about working through childhood trauma, living with it as an adult, and not being able to just shake it off, not being able to take a pill and get it off, or have a good therapy session and get it removed. … I mean, I’m not a hero who would risk my life to save my country at all; I am an actor. But when I read “Causeway,” even though the situations couldn’t be more different, the idea of ​​carrying around this invisible injury and knowing that healing isn’t linear—there’s a lot of progress and then there’s a step back. And she has a very complicated relationship with home. She also had a beautiful childhood. I also had parents who loved me as much as they could and did absolutely the best they could. This is also true.

And I think we can tear this story apart and be able to add some things that, if I can see another person going through it, and I can empathize with Lynsey, I can start to understand how I can feel empathy for myself. And so it was really a healing process.

I guess that’s why it’s still so hard for me to understand that people love it – even if it’s just a file Movie —because it’s been so personal for so long that it’s strange to talk about it. [Tears up]

Davis: It’s meant to be personal. Listen, everything we do as actors helps people feel less lonely. We live in a world now where we are so disconnected from ourselves that we can’t relate to others. This is because everyone is committing a scam. I mean everyone! I became a mother. Every mother I come across, all of her children are gifted. None of their children had any problems. All of their children come home with consecutive A’s. And I’m like, “Okay, Helltruly? “

Lawrence: I made the movie just before I got married. And then we had the epidemic. Two years later, I’m pregnant, we go back and make the rest. The most terrifying thing in the whole world was the thought of starting a family. What if I messed up? What if I can’t do that? And I was so afraid I might mess it up. And it was so exciting to make a movie where I’m so scared and I feel like that’s a reflection of Lynsey.

Every day being a mother, I feel terrible. I feel guilty. I play with him and say, “Is that what he wants to do? Should we be outside? We’re outside. What if he’s cold? What if he’s going to get sick? Should we be inside? Is that enough? Is this developing your brain enough?” “

Davis: Jennifer, I locked my baby in the car, and it’s hot outside. I had 50 million things on my plate. My daughter was in the back. She is happy, and I am so nervous to go to the goal. I love the goal. I got out of the car, locked the door and realized I didn’t have my keys. I threw myself on the concrete, Jennifer. Screamed. You thought I was in a Greek tragedy. “My baby! Jesus!Then I saw these two men. I grabbed their necks and said, “My baby is in the car! My baby!Then what do I have in my hand? My phone. Grabbing their necks, the two men said, “Ma’am, you just have to call 911.” And I said, “Oh, okay.” So I called 911, and proceeded to yell at the operator. Every swear word you can imagine came out of my mouth.

Get her out of the car. And the reason he told me this story is because it was literally seconds.

Lawrence: I drove in with my car, not realizing it wasn’t attached to the car seat. He was just swinging, just flying. Well great! It’s nice to know that we almost all kill our own children.

Davis: I love my daughter more than anything else. it’s my life. So there you go.

Design mode by Jack Flanagan

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