Jennifer Lawrence: “I Didn’t Have a Life. “I Thought I Should Go Get One”

There was a moment, shortly before her break, when Lawrence was convinced she was going to die. It was the summer of 2017, and she’d boarded a private plane in her hometown, Louisville, Kentucky, bound for New York City. (“I know, flying private, I deserve to die.”) She had wrapped Mother!, her then boyfriend Darren Aronofsky’s horror movie of biblical proportions, in which Lawrence’s titular character is (spoiler alert—well, all kinds of alerts) burned alive after a teeming crowd eats her baby. All to say, her adrenals were a mess prior to takeoff.

Up in the air, there was a loud noise, and the air pressure in the cabin went kind of rubbery. The other passenger, the son of the Louisville doctor who delivered Lawrence and her two brothers, was called to the cockpit. He returned ashen-faced with news that one of the two engines had failed but stressed that they could still make a safe emergency landing with just the one. Then the plane went silent, and Lawrence knew that they were cooked. “My skeleton was all that was left in the seat,” she says. They’d lost the second engine.

Lawrence could hear the cockpit clanging in distress as the plane dipped wildly. “We were all just going to die,” says Lawrence. “I started leaving little mental voicemails to my family, you know, ‘I’ve had a great life, I’m sorry.’ ”

I interrupt to wonder about the apology in there.

“I just felt guilty,” Lawrence says. “Everybody was going to be so bummed. And, oh, God, Pippi was on my lap, that was the worst part. Here’s this little thing who didn’t ask to be a part of any of this.” She saw a runway below, wash with fire trucks and ambulances. “I started praying. Not to the specific God I grew up with, because he was terrifying and a very judgmental guy. But I thought, Oh, my God, maybe we’ll survive this? I’ll be a burn victim, this will be painful, but maybe we’ll live.” She pauses to crack a joke. ‘Please, Lord Jesus, let me keep my hair. Wrap me in your hair-loving arms. Please don’t let me go bald.’ ”

Jumpsuit by N21 by Alessandro Dell’Acqua; ring by Belperron.Photographs by Lachlan Bailey; Styled by George Cortina.

The plane hit a Buffalo runway hard, bounced into the air, and then slammed into the ground again. Rescue crews broke the jet door open, and the passengers and crew, everyone crying and hugging, emerged physically unscathed. Immediately afterward, Lawrence, anesthetized thanks to a very large pill and several mini bottles of rum, had to board another plane.

Sometimes it’s bullshit when people say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. “It made me a lot weaker,” she says with a rueful smile. “Flying is horrific and I have to do it all the time.”

Not all stress cycles can be completed. In 2014, iCloud hackers disseminated Lawrence’s private nude photos across the internet, granting every toxic person with a keyboard a peek. It was dehumanizing and, because the internet is the devil’s playground, it remains an ongoing act of violation. “Anybody can go look at my naked body without my consent, any time of the day,” she says. “Somebody in France just published them. My trauma will exist forever.” She shakes it off with a wincing grin. “Have you ever wanted to be an actress?”

This is a grim and fraught industry for women, of course. At the height of the #MeToo movement, Harvey Weinstein weaponized Lawrence’s name twice. In a 2018 motion to dismiss racketeering charges brought against him by six women, his lawyers argued, quoting Lawrence out of context, that Weinstein “had only ever been nice to me.” Her mouth curls at his name: “So how could he possibly be a rapist, right?” In a separate lawsuit, an unnamed actor claimed that as Weinstein sexually assaulted her, he lied pathetically, “I slept with Jennifer Lawrence and look where she is; she has just won an Oscar.”


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