Laying down the JLaw

US actress Jennifer Lawrence.
PHOTO: AFP

When Jennifer Lawrence fired her first arrow in The Hunger Games in 2012, fans the world over fell in love.

As its heroine Katniss Everdeen, also known as the badass "Girl on Fire" who leads a rebellion against a totalitarian government, the US actress has mastered the art of winning hearts.

And The Hunger Games movie franchise has only cemented her status as the reigning queen of Hollywood, even as we bid farewell to her popular character.

From earning US$1 million (S$1.42 million) for the first film to US$15 million for the final instalment Mockingjay - Part 2, which opens here on Nov 19, Lawrence's star power and fan appeal have skyrocketed, along with her paycheck.

Indeed, she was listed as the highest-grossing action heroine in the 2015 Guinness World Records last year, with The Hunger Games series making more than US$1.52 billion worldwide.

And that's in addition to being named the highest-paid actress in Hollywood by Forbes this year, banking US$52 million before taxes over the past year.

Here's why Lawrence, 25, deserves the title of Hollywood's leading lady of the moment - and why we continue to worship her.

She keeps it real

Lawrence may be a huge movie star, but she's also adorably human, perfectly imperfect.

Far from cultivating an image of an untouchable celebrity, JLaw prefers to show herself slumming like the rest of us mere mortals.

And that means not being immune to silly mistakes, such as getting an erroneous tattoo on her right hand.

"I call this tattoo a watered-down rebellion," she told HitFix.com at the San Diego Comic-Con in July. "I was with (The Hunger Games actor) Liam's (Hemsworth) family and everybody was getting tattoos. And I was like, 'Well, I'm always going to need to be hydrated.' So I guess I should just get H2O on my hand."

"By the way, I know the '2' is high, and in H2O the '2' is supposed to be low," she added.

She's funny

Any JLaw fan knows the girl has a wicked sense of humour, and is not afraid to use it.

She told reporters at a press conference for Mockingjay - Part 2 in Los Angeles last month that she was "aging like a president" because of her workaholic ways, and she accidentally smooched co-star Natalie Dormer at the movie's red carpet premiere in London last week

As Lawrence came up behind Dormer, 33, to give her a kiss on the cheek, Dormer turned her face and they shared an awkward lip-lock.

"Oh my God! We just kissed on camera," Lawrence said with a laugh, somewhat embarrassed. "And, I liked it."

Lawrence looks set to double her funny quotient by becoming BFFs with Hollywood's hottest comedienne Amy Schumer, 34. The two will co-write and star in an upcoming as-yet-untitled comedy as sisters.

"I watched (Schumer's 2015 comedy) Trainwreck and I was like, 'Yep, we're made for each other'," Lawrence told Entertainment Tonight. "We both have very similar senses of humour, obviously, and aren't afraid, which is a good and bad thing, because I don't know what our movie will be rated."

She's outspoken

Like Katniss, Lawrence is using her voice for positive change, which is really cool.

She has been extremely vocal about campaigning for equal pay for women, writing an essay earlier this month for actress Lena Dunham's online newsletter Lenny on the issue and how she doesn't want to play by Hollywood's rules any more.

"I'm over trying to find the 'adorable' way to state my opinion and still be likable!" she wrote. "I don't think I've ever worked for a man in charge who spent time contemplating what angle he should use to have his voice heard. It's just heard."

Lawrence's The Hunger Games co-star Josh Hutcherson told MTV that despite her outspoken exterior, "she's always been a little gun-shy".

He added: "As far as tackling issues, she's never really stepped up to do that.

"It's nice to see her now taking that step, being progressive, and using her voice not just to make people laugh."

Indeed, she's leading the way and blazing a trail, having successfully negotiated a US$20 million fee for her latest sci-fi romance Passengers, while her male co-star Chris Pratt is getting only US$12 million.

The film, directed by The Imitation Game's Morten Tyldum, is being filmed and will open on Dec 22 next year.

She's a great actress

Let's not forget Lawrence is a pro at her craft, as the second-youngest actress to win a Best Actress Oscar for her role in Silver Linings Playbook at the age of 22 in 2013.

Lightning could strike twice, when she reunites with its director David O. Russell for upcoming dramedy Joy, which opens here on Jan 21.

The film sees her playing single mother and Miracle Mop entrepreneur Joy Mangano.

Indeed, Lawrence is the key reason to watch Mockingjay - Part 2, as the big finale can feel long-drawn-out and tedious at times.

Katniss leads the final assault on the regime of evil President Snow (Donald Sutherland), and finally resolves her love triangle with Peeta (Hutcherson) and Gale (Hemsworth).

Her charisma, emotional intensity and maturity are so admirable, you can't help but be spellbound by every scene she's in.

The Hunger Games might be over soon, but fans don't need to despair as Lawrence will be back as shape-shifting mutant Mystique in superhero blockbuster X-Men: Apocalypse, scheduled to open on May 19 next year.


This article was first published on November 11, 2015.
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