If SBIFF followers were feeling a bit underwhelmed with the star power of its last few tributes, the screaming crowds 10 people deep ringing the Arlington on Saturday night assuaged all fears.
Jennifer Lawrence, the 22-year-old actress best known for three standout hits, was in town to receive SBIFF’s Outstanding Performance of the Year award.
The award was for her Oscar-nominated work in David O. Russell’s “Silver Linings Playbook,” but the throngs of devoted fans were here to see the Ms. Lawrence they knew: Katniss Everdeen from “The Hunger Games.”
In a sit-down interview with the often nervous and obsequious Roger Durling, who was plainly starstruck, Ms. Lawrence was the opposite: calm, self-effacing and still processing the life changes that come when one takes on a defining role in a beloved franchise.
But it was a role she hesitated taking.
“It’s really rare in your life that saying ‘yes’ to something will completely change your life,” she said. “And I was happy with my life. And I just didn’t know if I wanted it to change.”
She said she imagined her future after indie films as a “soccer mom,” with minivan and normal kids. She took three days to decide, until she talked to her mom.
“She reminded me that anytime people asked why I don’t do studio films, ‘You always say it’s because you don’t care about the size, but about story and character. You’re a hypocrite. Because now you have a story and character you love, but you’re not saying ‘yes’ to it because of the size.’ ”
In other interviews, Ms. Lawrence has shown a carefree attitude toward the business of acting. She never took acting classes.
This girl from Kentucky, who got scouted in New York City while on a vacation, knew she didn’t want to be a model but did want to become an actress.
But to hear her tell it, it comes naturally. Acting is “just talking” she says.
And she doesn’t rehearse too much or learn lines, which was a little bit of a problem in her “Silver Linings” scene with Robert DeNiro involving football stats. She spent so much time hurriedly remembering the stats that only halfway through did she really comprehend she was working alongside a master.
“It started out as a lazy thing,” Ms. Lawrence said, talking about not learning lines. “I was worrying one day to my friend. She asked ‘What scene are you doing?’
“I said ‘I don’t know. … Is that bad? Am I at the point of my career when I should start learning my lines?’ And she was like, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Audiences who have seen her work, from her breakthrough indie hit “Winter’s Bone” to Mr. Russell’s film, can’t really complain.
On the red carpet, as fans all around her alternatively called out her name or “Kat,” Ms. Lawrence was asked what it’s like to be a role model for all these fans.
“It’s a great feeling,” she said. “Fortunately I don’t have a secret life that I have to worry about getting out, so I can actually enjoy it and think that it’s nice.”