She’s supposed to start her new movie at the end of July, but before that Lawrence has to return to New York to do some reshoots on The Beaver, which stars Mel Gibson as a man who overcomes his depression by speaking through a beaver hand puppet. “Mel Gibson is unbelievable in this movie,” Lawrence told me in June, before the Gibson-goes-crazy tapes were released. “At the first table read of the script, I thought, He’s going to win an Oscar.” (Later, after the Gibson scandal broke, I saw Lawrence and asked about her reaction. She was speechless and kept shaking her head in disbelief. “It’s tragic,” she said finally. “No one will be able to see his performance in The Beaver clearly now. Even if Mel Gibson is great in the movie, I’m afraid no one will go.”)
As we drove east toward Hollywood, Lawrence received a call from her agents at CAA; she thought they might be calling her about Lie Down in Darkness, a script based on the William Styron novel, in which she’d play a doomed Southern belle. “I am obsessed with that part,” she said. “I have this feeling of protectiveness over characters I want to play. I worry about them—if someone else gets the part, I’m afraid they won’t do it right; they’ll make the character a victim or they’ll make her a villain or they’ll just get it wrong somehow.” Lawrence paused. “I’m trying to write the director of Lie Down in Darkness a letter to convince him that I should be in his movie. I’ll chase him if I have to. I’ll sit outside his house.” She laughed. “I’m beside myself over that script. When I get like that, anything’s possible.”
Actually, her agents were phoning about a more commercial project. Matthew Vaughn, who is set to direct an X-Men prequel, would like Lawrence to play Mystique, the shape-shifting blue supermutant. At first Lawrence wasn’t interested. But she read the script (“I had to read it in a locked room at Fox”) and was impressed. The X-Men choice is strategic: In all likelihood the movie will be an international hit, and Lawrence—who will be naked and indigo for long stretches of the film—could become a global star. Theoretically, that will make her famous and help garner an audience for her smaller films.
“I wouldn’t do X-Men if I didn’t find the character interesting,” she said as we pulled into a steep driveway. She waved hello to Claudia Sarne, one of the songwriters, who was standing in the garage. “I always have this bigger-picture thing,” Lawrence said, turning off the car. “As a kid I never did drugs because I was thinking about the future. I sound like an old person, but when I saw kids making dumb decisions, I would think, What’s your future going to end up being?” She paused and grabbed her purse. “I hardly ever get nervous, and I’m nervous about singing,” she said finally. Yet despite all the swirling activity—reshoots on The Beaver, Oscar buzz for Winter’s Bone, and a movie starting in a few weeks—she did not seem nervous. “Let’s go sing,” she said.