J-Law: ‘Nobody had ever put a woman in the lead of an action movie’ before me
Variety’s Actor on Actor series is out this week and next week. It’s where they put two actors in a room and they
fight to the death talk about their careers and the awards season and such. This year, Variety paired Jennifer Lawrence with Viola Davis. It worked out okay, in general – Jennifer was very respectful of Viola and Jen even seemed awed by Viola. Early in their conversation, they talked about The Woman King and what it’s like as a female lead of an action movie. J-Law is currently in big trouble for what she said about female-led action movies. Here’s that section:
Davis: What I have going for me is I’m a Black actress. And I understand how people perceive that. I don’t see it as a hindrance. But when have I ever seen anything like “Woman King,” not just with me in it, but with anyone who looks like me in it? What studio is going to put money behind it? How are they going to be convinced that Black women can lead a global box office? So, yeah, I said, “That’s not going to happen, because you don’t see it.” And, listen, it’s wonderful to sit with you. Because I see us as sort of the same type of actress, in a way. We don’t look alike, I know that.
Lawrence: I don’t feel worthy to be in the same room as you, but please continue.
Davis: But I feel that what you bring to your performances is exactly what an actor is supposed to bring, which is life. Which is the depth of human experience, the minutiae of it, the joy of it, the tragedy of it, the paradox and contradiction of it in every moment. And that’s what you’re supposed to do as an actress. Yes, there is a technical-proficiency aspect of 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 moved by your performances.
Lawrence: Goodbye! I want to circle back to you being “The Woman King.” I remember when I was doing “Hunger Games,” nobody had ever put a woman in the lead of an action movie because it wouldn’t work — because we were told girls and boys can both identify with a male lead, but boys cannot identify with a female lead. And it just makes me so happy every single time I see a movie come out that just blows through every one of those beliefs, and proves that it is just a lie to keep certain people out of the movies. To keep certain people in the same positions that they’ve always been in.
Yeah, Jennifer Lawrence is completely wrong about her own place in film history as a female lead in an action franchise. While the Hunger Games franchise was a huge achievement and I’m not minimizing it, she wasn’t the f–king first woman to helm an action franchise successfully. She’s erasing a big chunk of the careers of Sigourney Weaver and Angelina Jolie, for a start. It was a huge deal at the time that Angelina – fresh off her Oscar win – signed on to play Lara Croft and really committed to getting physically strong to be “believable” as an action heroine. Sigourney IS the Aliens franchise too, and while she wasn’t doing crazy stunt work, those are still action-sci-fi-horror movies. What else? Linda Hamiliton in Terminator 2. Uma Thurman in Kill Bill. Pam Grier in Foxy Brown. Michelle Yeoh and Zhang Ziyi. This is ridiculous and Jennifer Lawrence is too old to play this “nothing existed before me” game.
— Variety (@Variety) December 7, 2022
Photos courtesy of Backgrid, Cover Images, cover courtesy of Variety.
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