With thanks to her role in the internationally successful Hunger Games franchise, Jennifer Lawrence quickly leapt from indie actress to global superstar, yet unaware of her future critical acclaim. Having been nominated for Best Actress in the quiet drama Winter’s Bone in 2010, Lawrence took on a handful of like-minded projects such as the rom-com Like Crazy and the strange Mel Gibson comedy, The Beaver, before taking on the life-changing role of Tiffany in David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook.
Switching the nature of her career on a dime, Lawrence’s time on the Academy Award-winning film would transform her from an adolescent actress into one capable of taking on complex lead roles. Having always embraced comedy as a director in films such as I Heart Huckabees and Three Kings, David O’Russell created a compelling drama in Silver Linings Playbook that didn’t shy away from tackling heavy topics of mental illness and marital failure.
Having toyed with the idea of casting Anne Hathaway, Elizabeth Banks, Kirsten Dunst or Angelina Jolie in the lead role, O’Russell was initially hesitant to cast Jennifer Lawrence for the role as he did not believe her early-20s age was suitable. Auditioning over Skype, however, the director stated to The Hollywood Reporter that “she surprised us,” he said, before adding: “She’s wise beyond her years. She plays kind of ageless. She can be 30 or 40 or 20”. Believing she possessed the confidence and vulnerability to play the lead role, O’Russell made the fateful decision to cast her in the film, a decision that would be the success of the movie itself.
Playing the highly nuanced and complex role of Tiffany, a troubled young woman who suffers from psychological disorders, Lawrence strikes up a beautiful and bizarre relationship with Pat (Bradley Cooper), a man who has bipolar disorder. The actress’ performance in the film is a powerful one, layered with a tender emotion that frequently resonates in something as simple as a glare to co-star Bradley Cooper or a slight change in her voice. It’s a performance made up of moments both grand and quiet that the actress completely owns.
Speaking to Entertainment Weekly about her character in the film, however, Jennifer Lawrence didn’t always seem so confident about her role, “She was just a character I one-hundred per cent did not understand at all… She’s like, ‘I’m messed up, I’m not like everybody else, I’ve got issues. Take it or leave it because I like myself”.
Lawrence won the Academy Award for this performance at the age of 22, making her the second-youngest woman (behind Marlee Matlin of Children of a Lesser God) to ever win the Oscar for Best Actress.
Discussing her character in a 2012 interview with Deadline, the actress reported, “One of the biggest things about Tiffany is her fearlessness, and yet she’s also very aware”. Continuing, she added, “Most people who are fearless aren’t aware of the worst-case scenario. They’re not aware of the consequences…But she’s both. She’s ferocious, fearless, and she’s aware of everything, and I thought that was fascinating. I wanted to go into the audition with David O. Russell that way”.
Remaining her greatest performance to date, since her time on Silver Linings Playbook, Lawrence has starred in fellow David O’Russell projects, American Hustle and Joy, as well as Darren Aronofsky’s Mother! though has been unable to capture the same magic as her breakout role.
If Silver Linings Playbook has shown us anything, it’s that it’s only a matter of time before Jennifer Lawrence reaches these acting heights once more.