You have to hand it to Jennifer Lawrence — not that the 22-year-old Oscar-winner and industry princess needs anything to be handed to her right now. But even with her career currently at supernova status, the hard-working star isn’t resting on her laurels and waiting for all the plum opportunities to come her way. Instead, she’s moving toward developing her own projects. It was announced today that she’ll be making her producing debut with the prestige drama “Rules of Inheritance,” in which she’ll also obviously take the lead role.
Also attached to the project is Danish director Susanne Bier, who accepted the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar two years ago for “In a Better World,” and who made her first American feature in 2007 with “Things We Lost in the Fire.” Lawrence and Bier are evidently comfortable working together: the pair’s first collaboration, the period drama “Serena,” is out later this year. (“Serena” reunites Lawrence with her “Silver Linings Playbook” co-star Bradley Cooper; they play a Depression-era couple whose marriage is placed under strain by her infertility.)
“Rules of Inheritance” similarly fits Bier’s taste for angst-ridden domestic drama, and should provide a meaty role for Lawrence. Based on a recent, bestselling memoir by Los Angeles psychotherapist Claire Bidwell Smith, it’s a coming-of-age story recounting the experiences of a young woman whose parents are both diagnosed with cancer when she is just 14; facing this reality throws her prematurely and hazardously into adulthood over the ensuing decade.
Bidwell Smith’s book has been adapted by British screenwriter Abi Morgan, currently hot in the industry despite a mixed track record: her credits include “Shame,” “The Iron Lady” and TV series “The Hour.” It’s significant, though, that Lawrence is producing her first feature with a celebrated female director and screenwriter, and heartening to see an A-list project of this nature countering the industry’s gender imbalance.
Co-producing with Lawrence, meanwhile, is a Hollywood heavyweight: Bruce Cohen won a Best Picture Oscar for “American Beauty,” and received further nominations for “Milk” and “Silver Linings Playbook,” on which he and the young star presumably made a good impression on each other.
This is smart work all round by Lawrence: while franchise duty in the “Hunger Games” and “X-Men” sequels may be keeping her comfortably in the green, she knows that a recent Oscar win hardly guarantees a steady stream of quality dramatic scripts, particularly given the dearth of female-led projects even in Hollywood’s prestige sphere. So she’s seeking out her own, and building on productive professional partnerships from previous projects to make them happen. The onscreen role in “Rules of Inheritance” sounds baity enough, but is Lawrence angling to join Barbra Streisand as the only actress ever to score a Best Picture nod? Sky’s the limit for her right now.