Jennifer Lawrence Says Joy Director David O. Russell Talked to her “Man to Man,” Called Her “He” or “Him”
A Vogue profile on Jennifer Lawrence came out this week, and I recommend you read the full piece because it’s a funny and touching look at A. what it’s like to be 25 and B. what it’s like to be 25 when you have more money than you’ve ever dreamed of and are, bizarrely, a celebrity. The piece is also interesting for the insight it gives into the collaboration between Lawrence and her frequent director, David O. Russell.
Russell, the notoriously argumentative director of Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle, and the upcoming Joy, has been scrutinized recently for casting women (Lawrence specifically) to play characters far older than their actual age. In Joy, Lawrence plays a 34-and-up-year-old; in the novel Silver Linings Playbook is adapted from, her character Tiffany is 39. In all three of the films Lawrence has made with Russell, her love interest has been played by a male actor over ten years her senior.
Although Lawrence acknowledges that she’s been playing roles for Russell that might make more sense for an older woman, she also comes across as extremely grateful for their creative relationship. She explains to Vogue:
Because I’m not so sensitive, we can really talk, like, man-to-man. Sometimes he accidentally refers to me as he or him. But he really respects and understands women, and by that I mean he doesn’t treat a woman any differently than he’ll treat a man. He would never tiptoe around a woman.
[…] I am obviously too young for all of David’s characters. But none of that comes from David wanting a young girl in his movies. That’s not even in his atmosphere.
Amy Adams concurs,
Well, if you mean he doesn’t treat people like a lady, I can agree with that. You have to have a certain kind of personality to be able to understand David’s direction without emotionally attaching yourself to criticism. And she’s able to do that. That’s why she gives such controlled performances in his films, because she’s able to go into the deep and heightened places where he operates from.
I mean…listen, it’s obviously impossible to distill all the complexities of a creative relationship with someone into a few sentences, and if Lawrence didn’t find working with Russell to be genuinely rewarding, then I’m sure she wouldn’t continue their collaboration. Personally, though, this interview does nothing to dispel my frustrations with Russell for casting a woman in her early twenties to play older characters. If anything, the idea that he only respects someone if he can talk to them, in the most literal way possible, “man to man,” just compounds my belief that Russell isn’t a director I’m super interested in continuing to support.
For what it’s worth, when asked by Vogue’s Jonathan Van Meter if he could ever envision Lawrence directing, Russell explained:
Well, first of all, I can’t wait to see this creature of now, of pure this-momentness, have to be the one who has to worry about everything. I think it will be a very interesting change for her. But she’s got a big soul and a big life ahead of her, and she can do really whatever she wants.
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