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tv   CNN Spotlight  CNN  December 7, 2014 4:30pm-5:01pm PST

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>> at the moment, taylor swift is having a whole lot of fun. and shaking it off just fine. exceptional talent. candid honesty. >> i have no idea what i'm doing here. this just feels insane. >> and a wicked sense of humor. >> what are you going to do if you lose? >> i'm just going to go, what? >> have catapulted jennifer lawrence to the top. >> it's absolutely incredible. i've been incredibly blessed. >> starring in the biggest hits. >> you can't really pigeon hole her into a certain type. >> winning the most prestigious awards. >> it's just so unexpected. it just kind of feels like you're, like, living in a dream. >> collecting one of the largest paychecks for an actress under
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30. >> she almost has a timeless quality to her which i do feel. >> never afraid to take chances. >> she's so much fun to work with and just so free and just uninhibited. >> never afraid to fall down. >> what went through my mind when i fell down? a bad word that i can't say. >> dozens of celebrities were exposed this week when their explicit photos were stolen and posted online. >> and through it all, resilient. even in the face of scandal. >> she's got a voice. she's got thick skin. >> tonight, we focus our "cnn spotlight" on jennifer lawrence. >> the look. the laugh. and that confident walk. it's an attitude jennifer lawrence has had her whole life. >> see how she's walking across. >> that's her? >> that's her right there. >> you got to make a strong
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start when you're talking about audition. >> charlie sexton remembers it well. he was her eighth grade acting coach. >> she sort of had that sort of nonchalant -- >> oh, hi. >> -- nothing's really going to bother me air about her. >> what? >> it's happening for you. >> what is happening for you? >> what is happening is happening. >> she always said, i'm doing this, i'm going to make it. >> years before the red carpet, hollywood's it girl was strutting her stuff across this stage. far from the spotlight. >> this is it. >> if jennifer was here, this would have been a classroom space. >> in this very space? >> this very space. >> walden theater in louisville, kentucky, where jennifer lawrence calls home. >> she grew up in indian hills which is a nice suburban neighborhood in louisville. >> local reporter josh moss landed a rare interview with jennifer and her family in 2010. >> growing up here, it was easy for her to be sort of grounded in her family and family is really important to her.
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>> the youngest of three, jennifer was the first girl on her dad's side in 50 years. >> her brother, ben, told me that her nickname was nitro growing up. >> nitro? >> i think she probably had so much energy, just being around them sort of trying to follow in their footsteps. >> she can be rough and rowdy. she had two older brothers. she can hold her own. >> amanda cornish knew the lawrences well. especially jennifer. >> they're tight. supportive of each other. they work together. i mean, you look at them working together. >> jennifer and her brothers spent their summers at the family's camp just outside of louisville. >> it was a kid fun land. >> amanda was a counselor there. >> how important was that camp to the lawrence family? >> i think very important because they got out of louisville and they got to go to the country. >> it was where jennifer loved horseback riding and eventually graduated from camper to assistant nurse. >> i was going to be a doctor,
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but i basically -- i was always putting on shows. >> early on, a different dream started to stick. >> i was like, i would put on an outfit, go knock on the front door and say, my name is judy and the car broke down. >> jennifer's mack for performing upstaged the family's passion for sports. >> all jennifer wanted to do was play the positions where she could put on a costume, so that was the catcher or the goalie. her mom said that jennifer would turn cart wheels down the field as opposed to playing. >> jennifer was hooked. >> even at that young age, she knew that's what she wanted to pursue. >> knowing the fact her family was a sports-oriented family, did they recognize that early on? >> her mother said, had jennifer been able to throw a pitch, we would have recognized the talent because they were familiar with sports. with acting, they didn't know what a good actor was or good actress was. >> it was like i was always an actress, we didn't realize it until i became an actress. then we were like, oh, that makes sense. >> her first official performance came at the age of
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9. >> she played a role at church. >> her mother said that they were doing a play about the book of jonah, and her quote was she played a prostitute from niniva. she was laughing about it. >> she definitely stood out as somebody that absolutely wanted to do this. >> jennifer enrolled in her first acting class after her 14th birthday. >> do you remember her saying, charlie, put me in? >> she was precocious and energetic. >> a few months in and jennifer was tacks the role of dez in shake peer's "a fellow." her performance captured in this never before seen video. >> they need to dismiss you. >> so did the 14-year-old version of jennifer lawrence pull off shakespeare? >> i think so. she sings in that scene, too.
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♪ by a sycamore tree >> she had to sing au capella. that's not easy to do. >> that's brave. >> that doesn't surprise me that she had the courage to do that because she was determined and unflappable. >> when she wasn't performing, the budding star was just a normal student in middle school. >> one and two, and ready and go. >> where amanda cornish was also her band teacher. >> what was she like in class? >> quick wit and sarcasm. she could have a punch line at the end of something and created that kind of moment where it's like -- >> it's no surprise jennifer was voted most talkative in her class. >> she talked quite a bit. i remember one of her other teachers was like, how do you get her to be quiet? i'm like, you put something in her mouth. >> like an obo.
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>> but none of that distracted this young woman from her goal. to be an actor. >> one of the reasons she stood out is that she verbally expressed to me and anyone around her that this is what she was going to do for her career. >> and jennifer knew that meant leaving kentucky for new york city. >> i was 14, my parents weren't going to let me do it. my brothers actually called and said, you know, you guys followed us through the world series, you guys have been all over the country with us and you'd do this for us if it was sports and this is her baseball diamond and you have to let her do it. >> her mother said hopefully this will get out of her system, try this once and then it's over. >> so in the spring of 2005, jennifer and her mom flew to new york. coming up, lawrence fights for the role that could put her on the map. >> i had to chase them down. they said i didn't have the right look and i just kind of flew there to tell them that
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the busy streets of new york city. far from the rolling hills of louisville, kentucky. it was spring break 2005, and a 14-year-old jennifer lawrence was chasing her dream. >> in union square watching these street dancers and this guy comes up a camera both in hindsight her mother and jennifer said was kind of creepy. >> hello, who are you, why do you want my picture and phone number? >> he takes her photo. from then on, different offers came in for different ads. >> she landed modeling jobs and acting gigs like this commercial for mtv's show "my super sweet
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16." for lawrence, there was no turning back. >> she called one night and jennifer said, dad, i saw a rat as big as shadow. i asked her dad, what's shadow? he said, that's our big black cat. the cool thing about that was they knew she loved what she was doing and living even though it was a crummy apartment in new york because she didn't complain about that at all. >> her parents weren't sure but left jennifer stay through the summer. amanda cornish was working with jennifer's mother then. >> she was just nervous about their daughter going off into another direction. she was very supportive, though. >> as the summer came to an end, her father flew to new york to bring jennifer home for the beginning of the school year. but when he arrived, an agent called to bring jennifer to los angeles instead. >> i just remember when it was like she's not coming back, like, this is where this is going to go. >> her career took off.
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and jennifer moved to los angeles. >> i got scared. >> bit parts in several series like "cold case," "monk" and "medium." and then in july of 2007, a starring role in a new tv series. "the bill engvall show." >> using the word hip means you're not. >> word. >> no. >> hound dog. >> please stop. >> i think it prepared her. it creates a certain discipline in a lot of these actresses. >> tatiana siegel is a film reporter for the "hollywood reporter." >> i'm still really mad at you. >> i think she always wanted roles that would challenge her. there aren't a lot of great tv roles for women in their teens and 20s. >> lawrence's goal was the big screen. in 2007, she auditioned for the coveted role of bella swan in the "twilight" series. she lost out to kristen stewart. but it wouldn't be long before
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lawrence got another chance. and that would come from this man. >> she has the greatest talent i have seen in my life. raw talent. in 2007, he was casting a small independent film. >> i'm pregnant. >> he saw lawrence's audition tape on the very first day of casting and he knew she was the one. >> my family was happy, too. >> the publishers were not sure of having her. i said, no, this is the girl i want. >> and he got her. lawrence transformed from a fun-loving 17-year-old into a serious actor. >> i said to her, really relax. we had a lot of fun. what we're doing is very serious and intense film and i said, jennifer, this is really
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difficult. you need concentration. no, we can shoot it right now. don't worry. i'm going to do it perfectly. >> and i turned to this big guys, cruel, big, strong guys crying. and i was like, wow. and she was, i told you. >> once the film wrapped, aria fwr ga who worked with hollywood's biggest stars knew this was just the beginning for jennifer lawrence. >> when we finished the film, i spoke to her and say, you're going to win many oscars. you're going to be extremely famous and going to be the most important actress of your generation. ♪ way down in missouri where i heard this melody ♪ >> and that prediction would come true almost immediately
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with her next film. lawrence played the daughter of a meth dealer in the rural ozarks and was a role she almost lost because filmmakers thought she was too pretty. >> i had to chase them down. they said i didn't have the right look and i just kind of flew there to tell them that that didn't matter. >> it was a part that took her far from her louisville roots, but lawrence was determined. >> that's your only brother. >> you think i forgot that? >> john hawks plays her uncle who's this really scary character, and there's this scene where he grabs her hair and pulls her down. and she kept telling him, bring it. just bring it. they would do take after take. he kept saying, am i hurting you? she said, no, do it again. >> a performance that brought critical acclaim. >> it's just so unexpected. it just kind of feels like you're, like, living in a dream.
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>> jennifer lawrence. >> a dream that led to a best actress nod for lawrence, making her one of the youngest oscar nominees ever. >> she probably never thought she'd be talking about an oscar with her name. >> and probably never thought she'd be meeting some of hollywood's biggest names. >> one meeting she had was at dreamworks with steven spielberg. i was like, what did you do after you met with steven spielberg? she said, i went to my car and cried. what else do you do after you meet steven spielberg? >> you look for your next role. and this time it was the "hunger games." a big picture adaptation of the hit book series. >> i have to say that is the single biggest young female role of probably the last decade. >> big movie for an actress who had so far stuck to small films.
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march 12th, 2012. hunger games premiere,
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excitement, even hysteria. for the film's star, jennifer lawrence. >> it's unbelievable. and very humbling. it's amazing. >> amazing for a 21-year-old actress who had been in the film business just four years. >> prim! i volunteer! i volunteer as tribute! >> "hunger games" was her biggest budget, highest profile movie to date. >> this is the time to show them everything. make sure they remember you. >> every young actress wanted this role. jennifer lawrence just, you know, really fought harder for it. >> it's time for the tour. >> lawrence had done action before. >> should we have to hide? >> playing the mute mystique in the 2011 "x-men" movie. but "hunger games" was different. months of training turned her
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into a warrior. >> she is somebody who sort of had muscle tone and you looked at her and she's not like this 90-pound person with like, you know, cross bow. she looks like she could actually -- >> like a tough cookie. >> looks like she can climb a tree. >> something her former director said was close to home for jennifer. >> in certain ways, it resembles her life in kentucky. she knows the woods. she knows how to fish. her mom used to have a campground for kids in the woods. >> the film was a box office record breaker. and jennifer lawrence was now a household name. >> i think that jennifer's performance in the hunger games deserves an oscar nomination. >> but that second nomination would have to wait until lawrence's next film, "silver linings playbook." >> i'm just the crazy slut with a dead husband! >> lawrence played a promiscuous widow battling her demons, a
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role initially intended for an older actress. >> this is a role that angelina jolie was slated to play. and if you think of the age range between angelina jolie and jennifer lawrence, you're talking like 15 years or so. >> we were concerned she was too young for the role. >> the director david o'russell. >> she almost has a timeless quality to her. i feel like sometimes she seems like she's 18, sometimes she seems like she's 40. she's not afraid to jump in and do it any number of different ways. >> that's right. >> i'm the reason why today happened. >> i think so. >> let's talk about that. >> be my guest. >> not afraid to go head to head with screen legend, robert de niro. >> i did my research. >> well, i got to say, i'm impressed. >> thank you. >> i've learned from example with him. he's very calm and nice and gets it done. >> it's a performance that won lawrence nearly every award, including her first oscar. >> it's absolutely incredible.
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yeah. i've been incredibly blessed. >> blessed, not just by her talent, but by a sense of humor. like when she fell in front of millions when accepting her academy award in 2013. >> what went through my mind when i fell down? a bad word that i can't say. >> it's those kinds of real moments that you see often with lawrence. >> you've got a fan here. >> like when hollywood legend jack nicholson fawned all over her on "good morning america" after she won the oscar. >> oh, my god. >> you don't mind -- >> or on late night television. >> i get really hyper and i'm like -- and i get really hyper. so then i go on interviews and i'm like a chihuahua shaking and peeing and then afterwards, i'm like i just talked about peeing on the red carpet. >> old friends like say it's not
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an act. >> as soon as they ask a question, she's got something to come back with. or if something funny happens, it's whatever she fills it in with. >> and no filter. >> no filter. >> back in the day? >> that was there in eighth grade. >> and unguarded, uncensored spirit that has all of hollywood lining up to work with her. >> she's so much fun to work with and so free and uninhibited. >> amy adams starred opposite lawrence in "american hustle." >> i got a ring on my finger. we have a child together. >> roles that landed them both academy award nominations. >> you know sometimes in life all you have are [ bleep ] poisonous choices. >> i remember thinking there's nothing this girl can't do. >> yet, she's unfazed by the fame and the celebrity that has been the downfall of so many young stars.
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>> i don't see her going any other direction. i think she'll stay rooted to being -- i want to say a country girl, but knowing where she came from, how she was raised. >> she's got that little bit of kentucky in her forever. >> yep. >> something she's needed over the past couple of months as people scrutinized her love life or as hackers stole her personal pictures and posted them. >> i think she handled it great. you know, she sort of very rightly so said i'm a victim here. and like anyone who looks at these is, you know, sort of like really creepy. like you're feeding into something. that's a crime. >> she's got a voice. >> a voice lawrence has used to climb to the top. in the same league as one of hollywood's all time greats. >> i think she deserves to be in the same sentence of meryl streep even at her young age.
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>> and a voice certain to resinate for years to come. ♪ ♪ we could be heroes >> from the american museum of natural history in new york c y city, this is "cnn heroes" an all-star tribute. ladies and gentlemen, please welcome your host for the evening, anderson cooper. >> thank you so much. welcome to cnn heroes, an all star tribute. we're coming to you tonight from the hall of ocean life, known as the whale room, hence the enormous whale in new york's museum of natural history. this has been one of tho


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