Red Sparrow: Interview with Star Jennifer Lawrence–Part 1

Red Sparrow


Being Shocked by Film’s Story

Jennifer Lawrence:  What shocked me the most was that it was a very real program.  The Sparrow program existed in the KGB and even in America.  Jason Matthews, who wrote the book, even thought the story is fictionalized and the characters are fictionalized, he spent the majority of his life and career dealing with Russian and US relations and espionage.  So it was a completely different perspective and it’s unique.


JL:I mean, there was a lot of stuff that made me nervous before I said yes to this movie because I knew going in that I was either going to go all the way and do these scenes or somebody else was going to do the movie, because there was no version of doing a softer way of telling this story.  So I was scared going in and then actually, getting in there and doing the scenes, and seeing Francis, who I feel like I have known since I was five, I thought that that was going to make it worse, but even the cameramen were the cameramen on “Hunger Games.” But I could not have been surrounded with a more supportive and amazing group of people that made me feel so comfortable.  And walking away from it, I actually felt and feel empowered by it.


Comfort Zone

JL: I can’t play a character that is being asked to go further than I myself am not willing to go, I mean in a realistic scene, I can’t obviously careen out of a skylight or something.  But there’s a lot of dark material in this movie that is going to make a lot of people uncomfortable, but for us to tell the story in a correct and dangerous, and push the envelope, to make it as true to form, was more important than my fears that I have had for a lot of years and it was definitely going out of my comfort zone, but I am happy that I did it.  I believe nudity was necessary to tell the story.


Doing Foreign Accent

JL: It was my first time doing a foreign accent, so that was really daunting. I worked with Tim Monach, a brilliant dialect coach and we kind of found certain women who would have a dialect that we felt like, because every country and every city, has different dialects for a different region.  We would find these women and Tim Monach would interview them and I would kind of listen to like the lyrical pattern of the way that they spoke.  And then you just cross your fingers and you hope for the best.


Physical Challenges

JL: For about four months I think I trained in ballet and for three hours a day, which was obviously more for me, because I wasn’t going to just turn into a prima ballerina, (laughter) especially me.  It was more just about me learning to use my body differently and also get into the mind of the discipline that these dancers have to go through, the physical and mental discipline that it takes.  And then filming, I am obviously filming for over 12 hours a day, so I didn’t have much time for training.  So we had to get all of that training in before, and then as soon as we wrapped all of the ballet stuff, I was just, I threw myself a party.


Sergei Polunin

JL: It was his first time and it was my first time dancing, so we were definitely leaning on each other for certain parts.  And he is so athletic and so talented and so nice, also really hot, just side note. He said that I have light bones, so I will love him forever.



I mean, my character Dominika has had to learn tactics and has been forced into a survival mode that I could not ever even imagine.  So my reading of people is more directed towards things in my life and why are they excited to talk to me, is it because of me?  So I just kind of tuned into a different area of reading people than Dominika.  I certainly can do it, but just in a different context.

Spy Movies

JL: Spy movies are cool, they are exciting, I always like a psychological thriller. They can get a little bit redundant, and that is why this movie was so really unique and it had just a completely different perspective and it was also showcasing areas and international espionage that no one has ever really talked about.  It was written by an actual spy.  He and his wife are both spies, so I asked them questions and it was fascinating.


Charlotte Rampling

JL: Charlotte is a legend, so just doing a scene with her, was, it just meant a lot to me personally.  And then I show up and I am really nervous to meet her and she is just totally normal.  I always like actors who act like they are just at work.  It wasn’t like a big show and she was just a normal woman at work, which I really enjoyed.  And then she started speaking and her accent was absolutely flawless and I was like well I am just going to quit right now, while I am ahead.  She is amazing.


Leasing Body for the Art

JL: I feel like I lease out my body willingly and consensually for my art.  And I am happy to do it and there are many things that you have to sacrifice when you are shooting a movie.  You are in another country and you are not around your friends or your family and you are working really, really long hours, and there are many sacrifices that go into the art.  But I mean, I am just so lucky to be able to have this job, because I love it and I wouldn’t be able to be as passionate as about I don’t think anything else other than this.


Matthias Schoenaerts

JL: Matthias is just a fireball of talent, so I was really excited to work with him.  And I think that we had started doing this thing where each of us would try to distract each other or fuck with the other one, right before action. Which turns out when you are doing a foreign accent, is not a good idea, but it was fun.

The first time I ever saw him was in that movie called “Bullhead.”  And I was just blown away.  This is before “Red Sparrow” was ever even in my atmosphere.  He just seemed, he has an incredibly powerful presence, even if he is not even saying anything or talking.  And he just has a very rapid understanding of a character.  And so I had been excited to work with him for a really long time and so when he was cast in “Red Sparrow” I was thrilled.  And I was even more thrilled when we got on set and of course he delivered as an actor, but he was also just an amazing, really nice person.


Visual Style

JL: I had worked with Jo and Francis and I know that they are an amazing pair, so I had seen both of their talents showcased in “The Hunger Games.” But “Red Sparrow” was really watching these two at their absolute best.  So I knew the tent of the ND and things like that before we started shooting for the screentest and everything.  But it’s really just trust.  I knew that this was really daring and dark material and I knew that if there was anybody that I would trust to make something like that tasteful, then that’s Francis and Jo.  So even when it came down to Sparrow School, I didn’t even know what angle they were shooting at, because I just fully trusted them.


Challenges of Each Movie

JL: I mean this movie definitely took me out of my comfort zone and it challenged me in ways that I have never asked myself to be challenged before and there was a long period in my life when I didn’t really want to be seen sexually and I didn’t want anybody to see my flesh and there were certain things that made me uncomfortable.  But if I wanted to tell the story, then I was going to have to get over that fear and I felt empowered by it.  And I pick up different things from movies and when I was doing “Joy” I was 25 and that was kind of like a life changing moment and owning that business or your family or your life.  And “Mother” was just a complete departure and it is completely different from my personality and the way that I speak even and from the way that I think.  So I think anytime that an actor is doing a character and if you talk about walking a mile in someone’s shoes, we spent over a year in a completely different mental perspective. So it just opens your mind.