'Red Sparrow' Team on Timeliness of Russian Spy Movie: "The Relevancy Fell in Our Laps"

Although the Jennifer Lawrence starrer is in theaters at a time in which Russia-U.S. relations have received heightened scrutiny, director Francis Lawrence said he "didn't intend on making a political film."
Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

The Jennifer Lawrence-starring Russian spy film Red Sparrow, currently in theaters, has arrived at a time when U.S.-Russia relations are constantly in the news, with the ongoing investigation into possible interference in the 2016 presidential election still making headlines.

But the stars and director Francis Lawrence say the timeliness of the film — about a former ballerina who becomes a Russian spy and learns how to use her body as a weapon, embarking on a complicated relationship with a CIA agent played by Joel Edgerton — is merely a coincidence.

"I didn't intend on making a political film. When we started three years ago, the politics that are in the movie were pretty irrelevant, actually," Francis Lawrence told The Hollywood Reporter ahead of Red Sparrow's New York premiere. "We used to have conversations about that like, 'Oh this modern Cold War thing, it doesn't feel that relevant.' But we were interested in the characters and the journey of Dominika, Jen's character, and then as time went on, the election happened and things started to come up and the movie just started to feel more and more relevant."

Lawrence echoed her director's thoughts about the movie's fortuitous timing.

"I think Russian/U.S. relations have been fascinating to audiences and fuel for books and movies for decades. I think three years ago, this movie would've been exciting, dramatic, brutal, unique, but maybe it wouldn't have been very relevant, and you definitely can't say that now," Lawrence told THR. "The relevancy fell in our laps."

And Edgerton too saw the film, which also comes out just a few weeks before '80s-set Russian spy drama The Americans premieres its sixth and final season on FX, as reflective of audiences' ongoing interest in U.S.-Russian relations.

"You realize just how hard-wired people are — even young people, I guess, but even people of my generation are wired to tap back into the curiosity of what's behind the Iron Curtain based on everything that happened post-Bay of Pigs and the Cold War. I feel like my whole movie staple diet when I was growing up, if it was an action movie, 80 percent chance the villain was a Russian, so we've got this hard-wired curiosity."