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Keeping it real atop



She already has an Oscar nomination to her credit, having been tapped as Best Actress at 20, the second-youngest person ever nominated for that award for her performance in Winter's Bone (2010). She's dating another rising young star, actor Nicholas Hoult, and she's at a Beverly Hills hotel to talk about her role opposite Bradley Cooper in David O. Russell's critically acclaimed indie comedy, Silver Linings Playbook, opening this month in limited release.

The only real obstacle she faces, it seems, would be the burden of expectations. After The Hunger Games grossed more than $650 million worldwide and X-Men: First Class (2011), in which she played the shape-shifting mutant Mystique, topped $350 million, Hollywood may expect every film she makes to be a global blockbuster. Lawrence insists, however, that she feels no such burden. "I don't really think of it as pressure," the Kentucky native says. "Box office or not, either way I get paid and have an amazing experience."

 Some would say that it's everyone around her who has the amazing experience. Russell, the Oscar-nominated writer/director whose credits include Three Kings (1999) and The Fighter (2010), counts himself among that number.

 "We had our choice of actresses," Russell says in a separate interview. "Jennifer came in at the 11th hour. She Skyped me from her parents' house, and my first thought was, 'My God, who is this person'?" Not a question people ask much these days. An imposing presence at 5-foot-9, augmented by sky-high heels, a black blazer and tight blue jeans, Lawrence is at a level of stardom which makes it hard for her to cross a hotel lobby without stopping every few steps for an autograph, a cell-telephone photo or a quick chat with a gushing fan. Instead of the usual movie-star duck and run, however, Lawrence stops for all of the above. When she spots a crew member from one of her previous movies going by, she yells out to him and stops to give him a huge hug.

Despite the throng that coalesces around her as soon as she stops moving, Lawrence insists on standing for several minutes to have an actual conversation. This is one movie star who isn't complaining about being rich and famous. To all appearances, she's having a ball.

 She's seen the anxious ruminations in the media that all of this may have come her way too fast and too soon, that at 22 she isn't ready to deal with the spotlight glare that comes with movie stardom. Lawrence insists, however, that it's much ado about nothing.

"When you get a promotion at your job, you never say, 'That was too fast. Can I stay in the mailroom'?", she says. "You take it gratefully. I'm as ready as I can be."

 

In Silver Linings Playbook Cooper plays 'Pat', a young teacher at loose ends after spending eight months in a mental institution. After being released he moves back in with his parents (Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver) while trying to reconcile with his ex-wife. (Cindy Pearlman/The New York Times News Service)


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