Jennifer Lawrence received quite a bit of pushback from fans after she said “nobody had ever put a woman in a lead of an action movie” before The Hunger Games. The fact of the matter is, there were many movies before the dystopian film was released in 2012 with female leads, and now the actress behind Katniss Everdeen is clarifying her comments.
Lawrence received many comments after fans heard what she said about women in action movies when she was on a Variety’s Actors on Actors episode with Viola Davis. They were talking about their films on the 2022 movie schedule when the Silver Linings Playbook star said:
While saying “nobody ever put a woman in a lead” action role is not true, her overall statement makes sense. The Hunger Games was a game-changer for women in lead roles. This was proven by the fact that in 2012 the film had the third-highest box office numbers on an opening weekend at the time, and it was only behind the final Harry Potter movie and The Dark Knight, according to WSJ. While she wasn’t the first female action star by any means, what she did had a major impact on young girls and the industry.
Many took to social media to point out that films like Sigourney Weaver's Alien (one of the best sci-fi movies of all time) as well as Uma Thurman’s, Kill Bill, and many of Michelle Yeoh’s movies (like Supercop and Magnificent Warriors) are led by women, and came out before The Hunger Games.
Now, the Oscar-winning actress has clarified her comments with THR, saying:
For some context, the Oscar winners were talking about having successful action movies because Davis was there to chat about her film The Woman King, which is a Black, female-led action film. I totally get what the Causeway star is saying, to blow past expectations like she and Davis have must feel good, and it’s something that hasn’t been easily achieved throughout the history of film.
Later in the interview, Lawrence talked about the “awesome responsibility” of being the lead of The Hunger Games. Her original comment also accurately pointed out the gender bias in Hollywood and the lack of women-led action movies. While there have been quite a few good ones before The Hunger Games, there are still significantly more led by men.
While she may not have been the first woman to lead an action movie, her role in The Hunger Games was a massive deal, and she reached a level of stardom that not many get to. However, it also came with some major challenges. Lawrence explained that while she made the movies, she felt like she “lost a sense of control” over those years.
So, while Lawrence’s initial quote is not a fact, her overall point is true, and to see women finding success with massive movies is exciting and should make the actresses feel great.
While Lawrence doesn’t have any franchise films in the works, you can watch her critically acclaimed performance in Causeway with an Apple TV+ subscription, and you’ll be able to catch her in No Hard Feelings, which is on the 2023 film schedule.
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Riley Utley is the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. She has written for national publications as well as daily and alt-weekly newspapers in Spokane, Washington, Syracuse, New York and Charleston, South Carolina. She graduated with her master’s degree in arts journalism and communications from the Newhouse School at Syracuse University. Since joining the CB team she has covered numerous TV shows and movies -- including her personal favorite shows Ted Lasso and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. She also has followed and consistently written about everything from Taylor Swift to Fire Country, and she's enjoyed every second of it.