Jennifer Lawrence Struggles With Co-Stars That Insist On Method Acting

Jennifer Lawrence gets nervous around method actors, as she doesn't know how to talk to them when the camera stops rolling.

By Phillip Moyer | Updated

jennifer lawrence

Method acting — that is, the process of getting yourself into the mental and emotional mindset of the character you’re playing — is a long-standing but controversial way to portray a character onscreen or onstage effectively. It has been known to cause anxiety, emotional fatigue, and sometimes even psychological disorders in the actors who practice it. Also, as Variety reports, it freaks Jennifer Lawrence out.

In an interview, Jennifer Lawrence expressed nervousness at the thought of working with a method actor, since they’re known for staying in character even when they’re not on camera. According to the The Hunger Games star, she doesn’t know how to speak to them — she’s not sure whether she should be in character herself.

Jennifer Lawrence is not alone in her concerns about method acting. Succession star Brian Cox has spoken out against his co-star Jeremy Strong’s use of method acting. Cox believes that method acting is what forced Strong’s mentor, Daniel Day-Lewis, to retire from acting in 2017 — an age when Cox says film roles just started to get interesting.

Not all method actors worry Jennifer Lawrence, however — just the ones who never break character. She has worked with Christian Bale — a method actor who has gone to such extremes as losing 60 pounds for his role in The Machinist. Lawrence said that Bale’s ability to quickly get into and out of character within “ten seconds” of cameras rolling seemed like a very effective way to act.

Jennifer Lawrence in American Hustle

Jennifer Lawrence worked with Bale on the set of the 2013 crime film American Hustle. In the movie, Bale played Irving Rosenfeld, a con artist who is forced by the FBI to set up a sting operation. Lawrence played his wife, Rosalyn, whose affair with a mobster complicates things.

According to Jennifer Lawrence, she was so impressed with Christian Bale’s acting techniques that she started using them herself.

Despite the stigma that method acting sometimes has, many practitioners say that it’s often mischaracterized. For example, the type of acting Jennifer Lawrence fears, which involves never leaving character, is not a requirement of method acting. 

Andrew Garfield, who has been known to use method acting in films such as Silence, has surmised that people who don’t like method acting probably don’t understand what it is. According to Garfield, Method acting involves “being able to drop it when you need to.” He also said that it does not involve “being an a**hole to everyone on set.”

Regardless of Garfield’s views, the longstanding tension between method actors and classical actors is unlikely to settle down any time soon. Actors will always use the techniques that work best for them to portray a character the way they want — and no about of reasoning or badmouthing on either side will change the other’s mind.

So, there may very well be a time when Jennifer Lawrence has to face down an actor who doesn’t leave character — even though that technique isn’t required (or even encouraged) by method acting adherents.