by Seija Rankin | Tue., Sep. 12, 2017 7:00 AM
Jennifer Lawrence is an open book. She shares everything with her adoring public, from embarrassing gaffes at the bar to bathroom woes that would make a sailor turn their head. It's what she is known and loved for.
And it's what's making her newest role so hard to decipher. There is almost nothing we don't know about JLaw, especially not when it comes to her film career. This is the woman who started the trend of having open, honest conversations about movie salaries, after all.
But for her turn in this September's horror film mother!, the entire thing is shrouded in secrecy. It's hardly known whether term "horror" is even appropriate. Even director Darren Aronofsky is hesitant to classify it as anything, cautioning that the flick takes genre-bending to the extreme.
"It's sort of a horror film, but it's really not," he told E! News at the Toronto International Film Festival. "You go into it thinking you're watching one type of movie and it's another type. It's for people who want an intense, thrilling ride. We're calling it a horror so that people know it's intense."
The flick's trailers have given away almost nothing about the plot save for what its starring actors (including Michelle Pfeiffer and Javier Bardem) will look like in the film. Adding to the allure of the whole thing is the fact that after filming was wrapped, Lawrence embarked on yet another secretive mission: Her relationship with Aronofsky. The two made their red carpet debut at mother!'s Venice Film Festival premiere but as yet have barely spoken about their status.
The mystery, of both movie and romance, isn't surprising from Aronofsky: He has lived largely out of the spotlight until now and is known for making mind-melting dramas like Black Swan and Requiem for a Dream. But the fact that Lawrence has kept all of this under wraps, with nary an interview slip-up about her character in sight, is impressive.
So here's what is known: Lawrence and Bardem play a married couple who live in extreme isolation in an old, historical house at the end of a desolate road with barely a cell tower for miles. All of a sudden strangers start showing up at their door, Bardem lets them in, and things go very, very awry. Lawrence's character is the subject of most of the film's torment, much like Natalie Portman in Black Swan.
Plenty of comparisons will be made to Portman, as it's Lawrence who carries the entire movie--there are whole portions that are just close-up of the actress' horrified face. That screen time makes casting the lead the most important part of the whole production and Aronofsky did not mince words when explaining why he chose Jen.
"She's a thunderstorm, she's an earthquake, she's a hurricane, she's a tornado of talent," he said. "And that's exactly what I was looking for."
For her part, Lawrence was hooked from the very beginning, when she barely knew what she was signing up for. She explained to E! News that Aronofsky approached her with the concept and sold it, mystery and all.
"Before I read the script, when he just pitched me the ideas that were floating around in his head they were so insane," said Lawrence. "They were huge, massive biblical ideas. I'd never heard anything like it. And the way he wove those into a narrative and condensed the entire universe into one house, it was incredible."
If all of this sounds at once incredibly broad and outrageously specific, that's because it is. The secrecy, combined with the heavy (and terrifying) subject matter meant that Lawrence was going to have to dedicate even more time to the role than usual. The cast went through a rigorous rehearsal process, spending months getting ready for filming.
"I'd never done anything like it," Lawrence said at mother!'s press conference. "It was incredible because every day we talked about our characters and every day we would discover new things. This movie kind of pulled me apart and put me back together. I don't even know where to begin to say what I learned from this movie."
While the plot points (and the ending's big reveal) have stayed incredibly secretive throughout the filming and promotion, there have been a few tidbits that have slipped out. (Beyond the paparazzi photos of Lawrence and Aronofsky going to dinners and talking walks in Central Park). Take the day of filming that became so intense, it caused Lawrence to tear her diaphragm.
Given that there aren't stunts or physical theatrics in the thriller, it had everyone wondering just what could have possibly caused the injury. True to form, Lawrence was guarded in her explanation of the incident.
"If you see the movie you'll know, there's one scene," she said. "I had trouble coming back from it and calming myself down. I just took it too far."
So what is Jennifer Lawrence to do when she's spending her days immersed in a world so terrifying that it causes bodily harm? She has to find a way to destress, of course. And to JLaw, that means turning to reality TV.
"Thank you for supplying me with the Kardashians," she told E!'s Zuri Hall on the TIFF red carpet. "It got to a point in the movie where it got so dark that I was like, you know what, I need the Kardashians. I gotta call the Kardashians in for this one."
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