Culture

To Jennifer Lawrence on Her 22nd Birthday: Hunger Games Star Schooled by Adaptation It Girls Past

Jennifer Lawrence, Anne Hathaway, Keira Knightley, Mia Wasikowska/Photos © S Bukley/Helga Esteb/Featureflash/Helga Esteb
Jennifer Lawrence, Anne Hathaway, Keira Knightley, Mia Wasikowska/Photos © S Bukley/Helga Esteb/Featureflash/Helga Esteb

After this summer, Oscar-nominated Jennifer Lawrence, star of "The Hunger Games," is trying her hand at more adaptation, this time expanding her skill set to characters culled from short stories, memoirs, and novels.

This September there's slasher-bait Elissa in "House at the End of the Street" while November brings recovering sex addict Tiffany in "Silver Lining Playbook." Next year holds the title role of Serena Pemberton in depression-era set "Serena" and there are rumblings that she'll star as Jeanette Walls in the Oscar-ready adaptation of Walls' 2005 best-selling memoir The Glass Castle. And lest we forget, she'll also be grinding out the next installments of "The Hunger Games" and X-Men franchises.

One thing is certain, Lawrence need not share Katniss Everdeen's food anxiety over tesserae; her plate is full. But as her twenty-second birthday approaches (August 15, for those marking the calendar) followed closely by the DVD release of "The Hunger Games" on August 18, we decided to gift Lawrence with career wisdom from three former Adaptation It Girls, culled from life lessons they've shared over their lit-filled years.

Anne Hathaway: age 29
Key adaptations: "Brokeback Mountain," "The Devil Wears Prada," upcoming "Dark Knight Rises" and "Les Miserables"
Hathaway sailed through town last summer promoting her turn as Emma in the movie adaptation of David Nicholls' beloved novel One Day and her advice to Lawrence could be summed up as: Sting like a butterfly. "I imagined Emma [Morley] as a butterfly," Hathaway explained of her "One Day" character. "I know that sounds very romantic, but just wait. It gets violent. A caterpillar makes a cocoon around itself and makes itself a butterfly, but what I didn’t realize is that it’s actually a horrifically painful process in which the caterpillar is basically torn apart. Only then is it allowed to emerge as a butterfly. Now I have a mantra that I cling to very strongly, which says, 'Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it turned into a butterfly.'"

Keira Knightley: age 27
Key adaptations: "Domino," "Atonement," "Never Let Me Go," upcoming "Anna Karenina" 
The last time Knightley swanned through New York, she was happy to not only promote her latest film, but also take a look back over the long haul of adaptations she covered during her twenties. What can Lawrence learn from her? Don't sweat cuts to the text and don't put even the most beloved characters on a pedestal. Knightley called Pride and Prejudice's Lizzie Bennett "an incredibly passionate, witty, intelligent, just-amazing being, but also somebody who’s so annoying you want to kick her up the ass and just say, ‘Oh, sort it out!’ She’s flawed." When we caught up with her at the Mandarin Oriental during a press tour, Knightley also said, "You know, my mom’s a writer. And reading some of her stuff and then seeing what she has to cut is heartbreaking sometimes. There are so many fantastic scenes and so many story lines that just have to get chucked away. That’s the nature of the beast.”

Mia Wasikowska: age 22
Key adaptations: "Alice in Wonderland," "Jane Eyre," "Albert Nobbs," upcoming "Madame Bovary"
When Mia Wasikowska blew through town last year to promote her adaptation double-threat as Jane Eyre and Alice and Wonderland, this newcomer had learned a lesson that could certainly help Lawrence on set and Everdeen at the Cornucopia. Her wisdom could best be summed as: Get a hobby and choose between the muffin and the water. "I love having another creative outlet that I have more control over," Wasikowska said, "and photography’s been a really therapeutic way making art. We get a lot of downtime. There’s a lot of waiting around between setups, and that’s fine, but I like doing stuff in that period.”

Wasikowska also cautioned against something that loomed large for all our Adaptation It Girls past and is surely something Lawrence will have to grapple with in the future: corsets. "Everybody talks about the corset," Wasikowska added, "but it’s totally true how hideously repressive it is. It affects your breath, voice, and the way you stand. It’s the beginning of repression.” She joked that this manifested at craft services. “Do I have the muffin or do I have the water?” she asked herself. “You have to sacrifice because there’s only a small amount of space.”

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