When Jennifer Lawrence starred in the X-Men or Hunger Games films, you pretty much knew what you were getting: in the case of the first, she was a mutant (Mystique) fighting against human prejudice; in the second, as Katniss Everdeen, she was reclaiming the soul and freedom of the people (nice to have goals). But in her new film Mother!, it’s virtually impossible to figure out exactly who she is and what’s going on.
Here’s how the studio officially describes the plot: “A young woman’s (Jennifer Lawrence) tranquil life with her husband (Javier Bardem) at their remote country home is challenged by a mysterious couple (Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer) who arrive and lodge with them.” What it does not say is that this is a psychological horror film that dips into true horror territory, with a house that’s actually alive. Although, like everyone else, Jennifer’s not spilling any specific details on the film, in this interview she does share her feelings about the experience of making it and working with director Darren Aronofsky — who just happens to be her boyfriend!
Life & Style: What attracted you to this project?
Jennifer Lawrence:: I’d been a fan of [director] Darren Aronofsky for a really long time, so the first time I heard that he had something, I was immediately interested and wanted to meet with him. It was the first time I’ve ever just had a conversation with the director. He just had ideas that were so interesting and unique, and he didn’t even really have a script. It was just these brilliant explosive ideas, so I immediately wanted to be a part of it.
Life & Style: So how would you describe your character?
Jennifer Lawrence: My character is very maternal. She’s very giving emotionally and she’s in awe of this artist that she’s married to, that she loves and she just wants to nurture. She wants to nurture their home. She wants to nurture his art. She wants to nurture him and there’s a small element of insecurity in her that makes them the perfect match. When you first meet my character, you also realize how much love and passion she’s putting into this home. She’s rebuilt Javier’s house that burned down before she knew him as much as she can, because she loves him and she wants to make this perfect environment for them. She puts her entire heart into it. It’s a real passion project for her.
(Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures)
Life & Style: Her husband is played by Javier Bardem. What was the rapport like between the two of you?
Jennifer Lawrence: Javier is amazing to work with. He’s an incredible actor. He’s so pure. Everything that he’s doing and portraying is real, and so it’s interesting all of the conversations that we would always have, because it’s just how to make everything real, which towards the end of this movie, as you’ll see, it starts to become more and more of a challenge to keep everything still grounded.
Life & Style: So what kind of relationship do they have? There seems to be a storm brewing from the calmness between them.
Jennifer Lawrence: There’s something to be said about the particular type of relationship that Darren wrote about. There’s an unevenness to it where I think that she’s happy and I think she’s in love and she’s attracted to this man, but she’s always a little bit scared of something changing. She’s always a little bit scared of seeing something shift behind his eyes or a deeper meaning behind something; that maybe he doesn’t love her as much as he did yesterday. That was interesting for me to play, because I’ve never done that before and it’s something that I think all of us have felt in a relationship at one point or another. It’s deep and not obvious. It’s not loud. I think that certain circumstances start happening throughout the movie that make her realize that this relationship really is off balance and something really is wrong. I also think that she gets a little bit of her power back.
(Photo Credit: YouTube)
Life & Style: What do you feel the audience is going to connect with in this film?
Jennifer Lawrence: There’s a million different facets to this movie that certain people are going to relate to, be scared of, be intrigued by. Loving is scary. Falling in love is scary. Being vulnerable is terrifying, but also not letting yourself be vulnerable is terrifying. When Ed Harris knocks on our door, that’s the first time we have another character that’s not just Javier or me. He’s a complete stranger, which is exciting for Javier’s character, invigorating. Which is a little scary for Grace, because she has her nest and everything settled and she’s comfortable and it’s confusing. The way that they hit it off is also a little intimidating, because if you don’t feel secure in a relationship, as we all know, anytime that your partner seems like they’re having a good time or being stimulated by somebody else, is threatening and that only continues to grow throughout the movie.
(Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures)
Michelle Pfeiffer’s character blows in and it’s just an entirely different energy, and I loved it. I felt like I was watching Michelle Pfeiffer in that movie like I was watching a football game. For my character, it’s incredibly intimidating, because she’s this woman who is everything that my character isn’t. She’s very forward with her energy and my character is just a little bit more reserved and a little bit more cautious of these people, whereas these people are immediately ready to be our house guests. My character is still a little taken aback by how quickly my husband has taken to this man who, to me, is a complete stranger. Doing scenes with Michelle was just phenomenal. She’s so effortless with it. She just easily goes into this place and then I feel like she made me better. She was just so easy to build off of.
Life & Style: There was also a relationship of sorts between you and the house that you gradually built up, right?
Jennifer Lawrence: I started forming my relationship with the house in a warehouse where there’s just chalk drawings of the outline of the house, because that’s when we were doing our rehearsals and that’s when I was starting to find who Grace was. My imagination was already starting with how she would walk down the stairs and hold the banister and really feel the home or how she would feel the intensity with her close emotions that are tied to the house. Then once we got to Montreal and we were on that set, that just happened really effortlessly. I was mostly always barefoot so I could feel the house. Actually being able to work with the house after only using my imagination in the warehouse was incredibly helpful.
(Photo Credit: YouTube)
Life & Style: The concept of the film is fairly unique, isn’t it?
Jennifer Lawrence: It’s one of the greatest things that can happen to you as an artist, to be a part of a movie that starts a conversation because it’s an original idea. It’s completely unique and I’ve never seen certain stories or certain ideas woven together in this way. I’m still thinking about it, and Darren and I are still having conversations about it. I think that’s a gift as a filmmaker to give to an audience. That’s a gift that Darren has created.
He’s just brilliant. I don’t really know how else to word it. He has a really natural talent, but he also went to film school so he has this weird way of combining a very instinctual vision and then describing it in a lens size, which is impressive. He’s a very clear communicator, so for an actor, that’s a huge relief.
Mother! opens in theaters Sept. 15th.