In between the David O. Russell films “Silver Linings Playbook” and “American Hustle,” Jennifer Lawrence reunited with Bradley Cooper for a very different film. “Serena” is a period saga that turns the pair into a husband and wife, the former who runs a timber company in Depression-era North Carolina. Getting Cooper on board was her idea.
You were instrumental in getting Cooper the part, soon after you finished “Silver Linings Playbook.” What made you think he was right for the role?
We’ve known each other for a long time. He made it very simple to get me involved in the filming process; it’s easy to act together. And Bradley is full of humor and working with him is very comfortable.
What attracted you to the project?
I wanted to work with [director] Susanne Bier. I like that all her movies are so realistic and objective at the same time, as if they are filmed by an independent observer. My character’s behavior creates a split between those who support and those who judge her. Susanne does not manipulate the audience. She tells the story, shows characters in specific situations, but never specifies whether you should like them or not.
Have you read the novel, by Ron Rash, the movie is based on?
Yes. “Serena” as a film is significantly different. In the book, she is very strong from the beginning and it’s exciting. But on screen I had to fall in love with the character and understand her motives. It was very important for Susanne and I that we weren’t doing a movie about a madwoman; we’re doing a movie about a woman who has gone crazy in love. If she were a man, she would be respected and immediately become a leader. She is smart and knows how to control a business. She realizes that she must earn their respect to prove that she knows as much or maybe even more than they do.
You had to ride a horse. Was it difficult?
No. I think I can do it pretty well. But I had to learn separately how to handle an eagle. It’s so fascinating to work with an animal that has literally no affection in its eyes at all – it’s looking at what it can eat and how. It’s a fascinating creature to hold on your arm, this thing that only kills, and it’s terrifying because its talons are huge. The eagle in a lot of ways is an embodiment of Serena, taken from its native place and trained enough, but then set free to wreak havoc, and then brought home again. The eagle is a good symbol.
Did you always want to become an actress?
When I was five, I already knew that I’ll become an actress. But otherwise I was more into becoming a nurse or doctor.
In one of your interviews you said that you do not know where your Oscar statuette is. Have you found it?
Yes, my mother has it! I wanted to hide it, but she thinks that it has to be visible! I didn’t like that idea so much. It’s like as if people come to visit me just to stare at this statuette. But we have found a compromise, “Oscar” is now living in my parents’ house. They’ve put it on the piano.