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Career Watch: For Jennifer Lawrence, If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It

Career Watch: For Jennifer Lawrence, If It Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It

With “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part II” slated for Nov. 20 release, the end of Jennifer Lawrence’s blockbuster franchise is near. Indeed, it’s been an unmatched breakout run for the actress: since 2011, Lawrence has racked up three Academy Award nominations (“Winter’s Bone,” “Silver Linings Playbook,” for which she won Best Actress, and “American Hustle”) and starred in a $1 billion-plus quadrilogy. How do you follow that up?

For Lawrence, the answer seems to be, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Her forthcoming projects reflect the same deft balance of box office spectacles—including a reprise of her role as Mystique in 2016’s “X-Men: Apocalypse,” directed by Bryan Singer—and mid-budget prestige pictures from proven directors, including David O. Russell and now Steven Spielberg. (Due credit to “Winter’s Bone” director Debra Granik for launching Lawrence’s career, not to mention providing her finest role to date.) 

Lawrence is attached to play Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Lynsey Addario in Spielberg’s “It’s What I Do,” based on Addario’s recently published memoir. (Read an excerpt in the New York Times Magazine here.) Though the director’s untitled Cold War film with Tom Hanks and adaptation of Roald Dahl’s children’s classic “The BFG” may make ramping up production on “It’s What I Do” somewhat difficult, Lawrence’s decision to sign on marks yet another investment in the intrepid roles that have so far defined her career.

Whether wielding a bow and arrow as “Hunger Games” heroine Katniss Everdeen, or a slinky dress, a microwave, and real comic chops as Rosalyn in “American Hustle,” she’s always made waves by sticking with brash, complicated women. Her winsome red carpet persona notwithstanding, Lawrence is no Hollywood ingenue: she’s an ambitious character actor.

And with the exception of Susanne Bier’s long-delayedSerena,” which emerged at the BFI London Film Fest last fall to poor reviews and debuted on VOD last month, Lawrence has been a reliable box office draw even without the franchise glitz. Both “Silver Linings Playbook” and “American Hustle”—in which, admittedly, she was but one part of starry ensembles—grossed more than $200 million worldwide.

This bodes well for “Joy,” a biopic of Miracle Mop inventor Joy Mangano, directed by Russell and written by Annie Mumolo (“Bridesmaids”). Slated for Fox release on Christmas Day, “Joy” will see Lawrence reunite with Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro. The last time those three appeared on screen together, Lawrence took home an Oscar.

Sounds like a plan.  

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