An Actress on the Brink

by Melissa Silverstein on June 9, 2010

in Actresses

Photograph by Nino Muñoz

Jennifer Lawrence’s performance in Winter’s Bone which opens on Friday is staggeringly good.  It is one of the most honest, realistic, heartbreaking performances I have seen in a long, long time.  It feels to me that we have our first Oscar caliber performance of the year.

This 19-year-old (who will be 20 this summer) has been in the business for about five years and this is her breakthrough role.  She carries this movie.  She is riveting.  But it’s a bleak film and her next film The Beaver starring Mel Gibson and directed by Jodie Foster is also supposedly intense.

So what’s a young actress who is about to breakout do to make sure people know she’s a young pretty thing about to break through and not a serious actress only drawn to intense roles?

Take most of her clothes off and talk to Esquire.  (FYI – I picked the tamest photo)

Is this really what a young woman needs to do to show that she is not only a “serious” actress?  I mean isn’t the whole point to show that you are acting?

Anyway, I really hope she doesn’t go down the dark path that many a young woman is forced to walk nowadays.  Judging from some of her quotes in the Esquire piece, Hollywood has not yet beaten down her individuality.

“Yesterday I had to do an interview. I was in a horrible mood. I couldn’t think of basic words. I could see my publicist in the background, mouthing things to say. They want you to be likable all the time, and I’m just not.”

I really hope she doesn’t become that boring, vanilla likable actress cause the talent that this young woman has is limitless.
Be smart, be careful, be yourself.

You Have Now Heard of Jennifer Lawrence (Esquire)

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

J June 9, 2010 at 9:35 AM

I’m dying to see Winter’s Bone mostly because of what I’ve heard about her performance. I read an old interview with her and she sounds really interesting, not at all a barbie doll. But she has to be careful, she is very very beautiful and it’s a double edged sword in Hollywood. Looks will open doors, but also pigeon hole you into brainless beauty girlfriend roles. When I mentioned her to a producer for a potential role the first question was “Is she pretty?”, I replied “Yes, too pretty for the role”. This is the problem, we divide these young women by beauty and brains. Why can’t they have both?

Deaf Indian Muslim Anarchist June 9, 2010 at 10:40 AM

I am sooooooooo F–KING tired of seeing young actresses taking off their clothes and posing seductively, half naked on men’s magazines. WTF? Katharine Hepburn, Meryl Streep or Diane Keaton never did that when they were starting out.

Ladies, if you want to be taken seriously as a dramatic actress, don’t pose half naked on men’s magazines (look what happened to Megan Fox). Unless you wanna be like Marilyn Monroe and go down the Playboy path.

Ugh.

Melissa June 9, 2010 at 11:35 AM

I read a recent interview with her, and she sounded very mature and intelligent, taking roles to push forward her acting abilities instead of just being a cute teen actress (besides being on the Bill Engvall Show). It looks a little strange to see her in that pic, since she has presented herself as being more of a character actress, and against that mainstream idea of sexy.

J June 9, 2010 at 12:57 PM

Exactly, I would urge these young actresses to differentiate themselves by maintaining that quality which made them interesting to begin with. It’s really hard to find to find great young actresses when you have a role that requires emotional depth and actual talent, because the women who are being promoted are so plastic. Keep it real ladies, believe me there are jobs for you.

Allison June 9, 2010 at 8:16 PM

I am so tired of female actors and singers taking off most or all of their clothes for magazine photo shoots to get attention for themselves. They use their bodies and sexuality instead of their talents to get ahead. Sad.

When was the last time you saw male celebrities take it all off? The only time I’ve seen it is in a recent photo shoot that Stephen Baldwin and some other male celebs did for UK Cosmo. Otherwise, it’s always only women. Even Allure, a magazine that targets women, has a nude issue every year, and it’s all women.

stephanie rosenfeld June 10, 2010 at 12:12 AM

Yep, that picture is unfortunate. To me it says, “‘Prodigiously talented’ (in a woman) is a hard angle of approach, to the male world (i.e. the world) — we need to simplify it down to something they’re comfortable with. Adding “sexy” makes every quality easier to understand and accept. The element of “sexy” gives you (if you are the watcher) a way to participate, to think you own a little bit of it, to have some power over it.

Why do women do this?

Ekpo June 11, 2010 at 9:55 AM

I’ve always maintained that the ‘modern’ men’s magazine (FHM, ESQUIRE, MAXIM, LOADED etc) has aided in culturally downgrading the prominence and/or importance of movie actressess.

There’s always been a belief since the birth of film and well specifically Hollywood that female movie stars be beautiful and desirable first and foremost but, ironically, thanks to the only benefit of censorship in movies and publications once upon a time, compared to today where exploitative depictions/ideas of sex are pretty much every where, audiences didn’t have to deal with stuff in other forms of media which constantly told them that actress x was only worth watching because she looked good naked. Sex doesn’t create box office stars but ‘It’ girls that become disposable faster than used nappies.

Meryl Streep, as pretty as she always has been, made it clear from her early days that she wasn’t interested in becoming a figure of male desire during a time when censorship had relaxed and the industry started to depict female nudity for cynical reasons. The result was a superb actress becoming the top female draw of the 1980s and now at 60 one of the few top female draws again. Lawrence going ahead with such publicity is dissapointing because it suggests that the industry is still ignoring the fact that it’s possible to be a successful female actress without jumping through the same hoops.

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