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This story first appeared in the Nov. 21 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
With The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1 opening Nov. 21, Jennifer Lawrence is as visible as ever as she promotes the third outing in the blockbuster franchise. Ironically, however, Hollywood’s most in-demand actress has been keeping a low profile when it comes to lining up her next project.
Lawrence, 24, who hasn’t worked since wrapping Mockingjay — Part 2 in April, is poised to return to action by reteaming with her Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle director David O. Russell for Joy in February 2015. But sources say that project, which chronicles the unlikely rise of Miracle Mop inventor and QVC fixture Joy Mangano, nearly fell apart due to salary demands (reps for the red-hot actress wanted a heftier backend than Fox 2000 was looking to commit). Active negotiations are still afoot, and all parties say a deal for Lawrence is expected to close. Russell, who will shoot the film in Boston, already has hired his same crew from Hustle.
The past few weeks have been filled with drama and last-minute scrambling on Joy. Production has already been moved from its original January start, and Russell has been spotted tinkering with the script at producer John Davis‘ offices, first beefing up the male lead role when Leonardo DiCaprio expressed fleeting interest and later expanding the small role of a QVC executive for his frequent collaborator Bradley Cooper. (Bridesmaids scribe Annie Mumolo wrote the original screenplay.) But the project cannot push any further because Lawrence must be on the Montreal set of X-Men: Apocalypse in April (20th Century Fox, the studio behind X-Men, is unwilling to move the comic book film’s start date as it already has carved out a May 27, 2016, release). In fact, Apocalypse is being crafted around Lawrence’s Mystique character and Michael Fassbender‘s Magneto. A source who has seen the script says Fox will take full advantage of Lawrence and Fassbender’s star power, placing Mystique and Magneto’s romance front and center.
Just as Joy started to hit turbulence, other studios with Lawrence attachments tried to pounce, including The Weinstein Co. with its Chris Terrio-penned script The Ends of the Earth. But Lawrence remained committed to Russell — with whom she won a best actress Oscar for Silver Linings and nabbed a supporting nomination for American Hustle — thus keeping Joy on track. As recently as early November, the film was casting its supporting roles, including fellow Silver Linings alum Robert De Niro as Mangano’s father. But casting decisions were abruptly put on hold just as Lawrence’s negotiations hit a particularly rough patch. (Sources say she also was attempting to renegotiate her X-Men deal at the time.) Now, with the her Joy deal in the home stretch, Fox is eyeing a Christmas Day 2015 release for the film.
That would put Joy and Lawrence squarely in next year’s awards race. Her only other shot, the long-in-the-works melodrama Serena, opposite Cooper — a film she shot more than 2½ years ago — was met with tepid response when it debuted at the London Film Festival Oct. 13. Magnolia is releasing the film on March 27, 2015 — not exactly an obvious slot for a Lawrence- and Cooper-led prestige picture.
And though Serena is seen as a VOD dump, at least it will be seen, unlike Lawrence’s filmed cameo in Dumb and Dumber To, which wound up on the cutting-room floor. Sources says Lawrence shot the scene in Georgia last fall (the Dumber set was near the Mockingjay shoot location) but retained the right to nix it if she didn’t like it — a right that she exercised. But Bobby and Peter Farrelly, who directed the comedy, and Lawrence’s camp deny that claim.
Borys Kit and Stephen Galloway also contributed to this story.
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