Jennifer Lawrence became a household name after being cast as lead character Katniss Everdeen in the Hunger Games movies.
She at one point became the highest-paid actress in the world, with a collection of awards including an Oscar, BAFTA and multiple Critics’ Choice and Golden Globe trophies.
After focusing on dramas, Lawrence is now directing a comedy for the first time – not a family comedy.
In No Hard Feelings, she plays Maddie, a broke Uber driver who responds to an ad from two parents looking for a woman to date — and sleep with — their introverted teenage son.
Despite being rated 15 in the UK, the film is an R in the US – meaning anyone under 17 should be accompanied by an adult to see it in cinemas – and is billed as the return of R comedies listed in the cinema.
Lawrence told Sky News she thinks the world needs comedy right now – and if audiences find some of the content offensive then maybe that’s a good thing.
“I think it’s time to just laugh the old-fashioned way,” she said. “And it’s really hard to do a comedy where you don’t offend people. Everyone in some sense will be offended by this movie – you’re welcome to.”
Lawrence’s co-star Andrew Barth Feldman – who plays Percy, the teenager Maddie is paid to seduce – agrees.
“We have to be able to commit to being offended,” he said. “There was and there is like a big overcorrect because we realized there was so much we were joking about that we shouldn’t be…and I think this movie does a really good job of it. continuing to push boundaries while engaging with the conversation that the things these people are doing are wrong, and not a good idea.”
“What we’ve learned from old-school comedies is that mean comedy isn’t really funny,” Lawrence added. “You know, making anybody feel bad about themselves – other than me laughing at myself. But the way we did it was good, we got it.”
Lawrence had been looking for a while to explore his funny side on screen. “I’ve always been open to comedy,” she said. “I wouldn’t say I was like, ‘I really want my character to try having sex with a young man’, but I just read it and it was the funniest thing I’ve ever had. read.”
No Hard Feelings was actually inspired by a real advertisement on the American site Craigslist, which Lawrence and writer/director Gene Stupnitsky found themselves discussing over dinner one night.
“He showed me the Craigslist ad and we just laughed about it,” she said. “Our whole dinner was just about the kind of people who would write the commercial — and so that’s kind of in my mind where I thought it would go with the movie.”
But rather than the parents, the film focuses on Maddie and Percy – the teenage son of an overprotective mother and father, who apparently have no interest in dating.
While Percy is an extreme case, Barth Feldman found a lot to understand in the character.
“My generation – and we see that so much with Percy – we’re the first generation that was born with iPhones in our hands,” he said. “And so there’s just a sense of constraint and fear and comparison that’s so constant with us.
“[Percy] is stuck in this bubble – the outside world is all on his phone and his parents want to wrap him in bubbles and he hates it, but it’s safe for him; but he needs to escape, he needs to learn that he can make his own decisions and honestly hang up the phone for a bit.”
No Hard Feelings isn’t the only film Lawrence has been promoting lately, having also appeared at the Cannes Film Festival in May for the documentary Bread And Roses, which she co-produced.
The film looks at women living under the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and is something of a passion project for Lawrence.
“You watch it on the news and you know it will eventually go away and I didn’t want these women’s lives to be just a quick story that everyone forgets,” she said. “So I talked to my producing partner about how to get cameras in a Taliban-ruled Afghanistan, and we found Sahra Mani, who’s an Afghan filmmaker, and we told her that’s what what we wanted to do.
“Obviously it was extremely dangerous for her and for the three women who participated…and thanks to Sahra and the incredible courage of these women, we have these images which hopefully will explain and highlight more light on women’s suffrage in Afghanistan, which is just amazing.”
No Hard Feelings hits UK cinemas from Wednesday 21 June