Variety’s annual Actors on Actors series is here, which sees Oscar hopefuls in conversation with one another. Jennifer Lawrence, who is promoting the Apple film Causeway, and Viola Davis, who is promoting the historical action movie The Woman King were paired with one another. This led Viola Davis to ask Lawrence about The Hunger Games.
Davis says that when she first heard about The Woman King, she didn’t believe it would ever happen, because she thought; “when have I ever seen anything like The Woman King, not just with me in it, but with anyone who looks like me in it? What studio is going to put money behind it? How are they going to be convinced that Black women can lead a global box office?”
“So, yeah, I said, ‘that’s not going to happen,’ because you don’t see it. And, listen, it’s wonderful to sit with you [Jennifer Lawrence]. Because I see us as sort of the same type of actress, in a way. We don’t look alike, I know that.”
Lawrence says; “I remember when I was doing Hunger Games, nobody had ever put a woman in the lead of an action movie because it wouldn’t work — because we were told girls and boys can both identify with a male lead, but boys cannot identify with a female lead. And it just makes me so happy every single time I see a movie come out that just blows through every one of those beliefs, and proves that it is just a lie to keep certain people out of the movies. To keep certain people in the same positions that they’ve always been in.”
Lawrence’s comments have proven to be controversial, because it’s not clear if she was told “nobody had ever put a woman in the lead of an action movie” or if that’s what she actually believes. Because if you look at Sigourney Weaver in the Alien franchise, Linda Hamilton in the Terminator franchise, Angelina Jolie in Tomb Raider, Pam Grier in 1970s action movies such as Foxy Brown, as well as Michelle Yeoh in 90s kung-fu movies and Ziyi Zhang (Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, House of Flying Daggers) – to name just a few, it’s demonstrably not true.
If you’re a fan of The Hunger Games, find out everything we know so far about prequel The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.