Girl under fire: Jennifer Lawerence feels the pressure
Nude photos and a relationship in the spotlight have transformed Jennifer Lawrence from happy-go-lucky into an anxious young woman
Jennifer Lawrence is feeling under pressure. When we meet in London she has a bad cold and is nursing a mug of hot lemon tea to get her through the morning's round of interviews. Later will come the world premiere of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, which is released in Irish cinemas this weekend. I heard that she fainted in a corridor of the hotel earlier in the morning, the result of a combination of being ill and under stress.
"I feel pressure as a role model because young women do come and see these movies, but so do young men," Jennifer says of her fourth outing as reluctant hero Katniss Everdeen. "But I also feel it's important for all women to support each other, so I feel that kind of pressure that every woman should feel. I feel a pressure not to disappoint people. I feel pressure all the time. Wherever there's pressure, I'm feeling it. I collect it!" she says with a laugh.
One would imagine, then, that the 24-year-old must have built up quite the collection in recent months. Since she first emerged as a star four years ago, her what-you-see-is-what-you-get attitude and frequent episodes of public clumsiness firmly placed "J-Law" as America's sweetheart. However, her humiliation when her private, intimate photos were hacked and leaked all over the internet a few months ago and the intensity of the spotlight over her relationship with Chris Martin have led to a change in Jennifer. She's still frank and earthy, but now, she's also a more guarded young woman. There's a wariness and vulnerability to her today that weren't there when I met her on previous occasions.
There's also a very aggressive new publicist in tow, policing questions that veer towards the leaked nude photographs. Jennifer tried to have the last word on the subject, via a cover story in Vanity Fair last month where she voiced her fury at the violation, but it's clear she's still smarting. "I have days when I still wish I was an upcoming actress and could go out easily," she says. "But I am aware and grateful that I have a very blessed life. There are wonderful things that come with it and there are difficult parts.
"Unfairness is something that really bothers me and it doesn't matter how much money I make. Like shopping in LA: how can a T-shirt cost $150? Or furniture shopping - I just bought a house and I cannot believe how much a couch costs! So, I bought an Ikea couch, in a temper tantrum when I started looking at the prices of couches in general. Unfairness in prices really gets me fired up." She's only partly joking. It's clear that's not the only thing that has her fired up, so I push her a little more on "unfairness".
"There's a lot of unfairness and imbalance in a lot of countries all around the world," she says. "In my own personal life, the hard part that comes with this job is losing a lot of your privacy and a lot of control over things that, just out of basic human decency, you should have control over. The technology has changed a lot, the media has changed a lot, but the laws haven't changed at all. It becomes very difficult being chased every day.
"It just takes its toll on you. It's a feeling of being invaded. Having people listen to what you're saying and watching everything you are doing, while you're still growing up. I talked about my recent, awful experience in Vanity Fair and I feel like I said it all there."
Jennifer sips her tea and every so often tells herself to stop talking, after she's given a detailed or frank answer. "Drink your tea and stop talking," she says into the mug.
One thing she is willing to talk about, briefly at least, is her relationship with Chris Martin. The actress dated the Coldplay singer last month, with reports suggesting she was the one to end things. Jennifer previously dated another Englishman, her X-Men co-star Nicholas Hoult.
"I do seem to like Englishmen, don't I?" she giggles into her tea. "They are so charming. The Irish ones aren't so bad either. What don't I like? There is nothing. I can't say. Oh God, now I'm blushing and scratching and itching and sweating! I love all men equally, okay?" Has she ever been to Ireland I wonder, prompting a classic Jennifer moment: "Yes I have. It was beautiful. No, hang on a second - you're going to kill me. It was Scotland I was in. But I do really want to go to Ireland." Geographical mistakes aside, Jennifer is not a Hollywood diva. There's a huge amount of physicality in The Hunger Games movies and she happily does all her own stunts. "I don't diet on these movies. I really don't need to, they're so physical. Whatever action scene you see of us running and jumping, we've done that all day. I'm 24. I know that one day I'll have to diet, but that's not today."
She says that her brothers and old friends from Kentucky keep her sane and grounded and she knows she can trust them. Strangers, it seems, are another story.
"I took my friend out to buy a French bulldog for her birthday because she had always wanted one. I was talking to the guy who owned the dog. We were in his yard and we had friends in common and it was a really great day. I didn't realise that he was taking pictures of me with his phone that he then sold online. I just wanted to feel like I could take my friend out and buy a dog and I don't want to have to question everyone that comes in to my life. But, at the same time, I have reason to. I don't want to change and stop being myself, but people need to stop being such assholes!"
When the publicity for this movie is done, Jennifer is focusing on nesting in her new home in LA and cosying up on her new Ikea sofa, in front of some reality TV, with her close pals. She's confident that's all it will take to help her regain her balance.
"I grew up in Kentucky and I didn't really become successful until a few years ago, so I'm very aware of what the real world is. And I'm very aware of what stuff costs!" Jennifer says with a laugh. "Unfortunately a lot of anxiety comes from something as simple as me going to the grocery store, because I don't know what could happen. I have nightmares all the time that I'm just walking down the street or walking through a shopping mall and all of a sudden people start surrounding me and there's nowhere I can go. But it's important to kind of stay grounded. Now finish your tea and stop talking."