Lawrence was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky, and has two older brothers. Her parents are Karen (née Koch), who runs a children's camp, and Gary Lawrence, who once owned a concrete construction firm, Lawrence & Associates She acted in church plays and, by the age of 14, had decided to pursue an acting career, persuading her parents to take her to New York City to find a talent agent. Although she had no training or experience, she received high praise from the agency for which she auditioned. She graduated from high school two years early in order to begin a career in acting.
Lawrence had guest-roles in the television series The Devil You Know, Cold Case, Medium, and Monk.
In 2008, she appeared in a small role in the film Garden Party she played the role of Tiff directed by Jason Freeland. The same year, Lawrence appeared on the big screen in Guillermo Arriaga's film directorial debut The Burning Plain, opposite Charlize Theron and Kim Basinger. Her performance in the film earned her the Marcello Mastroianni Award for best young emerging actor/actress during the Venice Film Festival in 2008.
Still in 2008, she had the lead role in another film director's debut, Lori Petty's family drama The Poker House, opposite Selma Blair and Chloë Moretz, where Lawrence starred as Agnes, a young girl victim of abuse. She appeared in the music video for the song "The Mess I Made", from the 2009 album Losing Sleep by Parachute.
Lawrence's lead role in Debra Granik's Winter's Bone, which won best picture at the Sundance Film Festival in 2010, is generally cited as a breakout performance for her. She portrays Ree Dolly, a seventeen-year-old in the Ozark Mountains who cares for her mentally ill mother and her younger brother and sister. Ree then discovers that her father put their house and land up as a bond for a court appearance before he disappeared, and the family now faces eviction.
The performance was highly acclaimed by film critics. David Denby, writing in The New Yorker, said "the movie would be unimaginable with anyone less charismatic playing Ree." Lawrence received an Oscar nomination for Best Actress from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, for the role, on January 25, 2011. She is the second-youngest person to date to be nominated for the category.
Lawrence had a role in The Beaver, a dark comedy starring Jodie Foster and Mel Gibson that was filmed in 2009, but which spent an extended period of time stalled due to controversies surrounding Gibson. It was released on May 6, 2011. Lawrence co-starred in the independent film Like Crazy, which premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and received a wider release by Paramount Pictures.
In June 2011, Lawrence appeared as shape-shifting villain Mystique in X-Men: First Class, a prequel to the rest of the X-Men film series. Lawrence's Mystique is a younger version of the character played by Rebecca Romijn in earlier X-Men films. Lawrence is also set to star alongside Elisabeth Shue in Mark Tonderai's thriller House at the End of the Street, which completed filming in 2010 and is in post-production.
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—Peter Travers from Rolling Stone on Lawrence's performance in The Hunger Games (2012)
Lawrence has never taken any drama classes/lessons for acting. She lived in New York City for the first few years of her career, but resides in Santa Monica, California.
In March 2011, Lawrence was cast as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games, which was released on March 23, 2012. She had an accident on the last day of the six-week training phase, but was not severely hurt. On March 23rd, the film earned a record-breaking amount at U.S. midnight screenings for a non-sequel film, grossing $19.7 million. Though the film generally received positive reviews, Lawrence's portrayal of Katniss Everdeen was the most highly praised with Todd McCarthy from The Hollywood Reporter saying Lawrence "anchors" the whole film "with impressive gravity and presence", and ultimately called her "the ideal screen actress". Frank Swietek said that Lawrence is "the one ingredient of the film that can described as outstanding" and continued to praise her for "conveying the character's strength and vulnerability in equal measure. None of the other young actors comes close to matching her". Roger Ebert also agreed that "Lawrence is strong and convincing in the central role".
Lawrence was cast in The Silver Linings Playbook, opposite Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro. She was originally cast to play "O" in the film Savages, but dropped out to film The Hunger Games instead.
On June 18, 2011, it was announced that Lawrence was invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, an invitation that included that year, her Winter's Bone co-star John Hawkes.
Lawrence starts filming the adaptation of the second novel in The Hunger Games trilogy, Catching Fire, this summer, which is scheduled to be released on November 22, 2013.
Lawrence is in a relationship with actor Nicholas Hoult, whom she met in 2010 on the set of X-Men: First Class.
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