Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence at the 2013 SAG Awards/Photo © 2013 WireImage
Bogie and Bacall. Hepburn and Tracy. Keaton and Allen. There are those onscreen couples whose spark burns so bright it can’t be contained to just one film. And lately it seems that Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper are angling for a spot in this cinematic couples canon. Their first onscreen pairing, “Silver Linings Playbook,” won her an Oscar and him a nomination, and they’ve got two more in the hopper: “American Hustle,” a reunion with “Silver Linings” director David O. Russell; and up next, “Serena,” an adaptation of Ron Rash’s dark Appalachian drama slated to hit theaters on September 27.
That special Lawrence-Cooper chemistry would be a draw to near any film, but here at Word & Film, we particularly love that the pair, both individually and as an onscreen team, seems to be attracted to adaptation, regularly choosing roles that originated on the page. And so in honor of this latest outing by our reigning Book-to-Screen King and Queen, we take a look back (and forward) at the roles that have helped them ascend to the adaptation throne.
“He’s Just Not That Into You” (2009)
Aside from “The Hangover” series, Bradley Cooper’s recently been on a spate of smaller dramas and dark psychological thrillers, but this 2009 adaptation of the self-help book by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo had him squarely in the star-studded rom-com zone. Perhaps not his finest work, but the lucky guy did get to play opposite not just Jennifer Connelly, but Scarlett Johansson as well — perhaps practice for future outings with Jennifer Lawrence, who often gets compared to ScarJo?
In this 2011 adaptation of Alan Glynn’s novel The Dark Fields, the Coop plays Eddie Morra, an author on a collision course with creative frustration until he downs a dose of NZT, an illegal superdrug that not only cures his writer’s block, but also manages to turn him into the smartest, sexiest, and ultimately most reckless guy in the room. Though some critics found the film “limited,” the New York Times praised Cooper for being “pitiable as a loser, despicable as a winner, and curiously likable through all the intervening stages.”
Currently in pre-production, this adaptation of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle’s memoir, American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History, is a story that “really needs to be told,” says Cooper, who will star as Kyle, a wayward Texas man who found meaning and an uncomfortable pleasure in battle. After Kyle was murdered in February by a fellow soldier suffering post-traumatic stress disorder, Cooper (who is also producing the film) fast tracked the project with Steven Spielberg, who was until just recently on board to direct. Says Cooper of his attraction to the material, “[It’s] relevant on two fronts: gun control and the need to address the many soldiers who are coming back with PTSD.”
“Dark Invasion” is another military-themed adaptation in the works with Cooper on board to do the one-two, actor-producer punch. This one’s a true spy thriller, set in 1915, about Germany’s efforts to keep the U.S. from entering World War I. The book, which highlights one the first attacks on American soil since the nation’s founding, isn’t out yet (it not-so-coincidentally hits shelves on September 11), but folks are already buzzing to see Cooper as NYPD Captain Tom Tunney, who the CIA considers to be the first head of homeland security.
“Winter’s Bone” (2010)
A bleaker, darker journey into the somber world of the meth trade than even Walter White could stomach, this 2010 adaptation of Daniel Woodrell’s novel introduced the world to the extraordinary talents of Jennifer Lawrence, who until then had only a few small movies and television roles under her belt. As Ree, a seventeen-year-old on a mission through the Ozarks to find her absent father, Lawrence was praised for her “watchful, precise, and quietly heroic performance” and earned her first Academy Award nomination in the process.
“The Hunger Games” trilogy in four parts (2012-2015)
It was a casting heard around the world. When Lawrence beat heaps of other name actresses for the role of Katniss Everdeen in the film series based on the massively popular Suzanne Collins trilogy, fans worried she was too old or too white for the role. But director Gary Ross insisted that he had never seen an audition as good as Lawrence’s — “She stunned me with the emotional depth” — and, overall, critics agreed with the assessment that this girl was on fire.
“The Rules of Inheritance”
Lawrence is set to do double-duty as actress and producer for this adaptation of Claire Bidwell Smith’s coming-of-age memoir about both of her parents being diagnosed with cancer when she was fourteen. The book, which somehow maintains exuberant hope through the somber subject matter, is being adapted by “Iron Lady” scribe Abi Morgan and will give the versatile Lawrence plenty of room to go to dark, gritty places while maintaining her goofy, hopeful pluck.
“The Glass Castle”
Still just a hot rumor, but word on the street is that Lawrence is on tap to star in the adaptation of Jeannette Walls’s memoir (which spent more than 250 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list) about her dysfunctional, untraditional upbringing.
“Silver Linings Playbook”
It’s a credit to Jennifer Lawrence’s maturity (and perhaps Bradley Cooper’s affable boyishness) that there was so little mention of the fifteen-year age difference between the co-stars in their 2012 inaugural outing, this David O. Russell-helmed adaptation of the Matthew Quick novel of the same name. And it’s also a credit to just how believable their chemistry was as a pair of intensely troubled, lonely souls who move through the turbulent chaos of family, depression, lost love, and NFL parlays to connect emotionally — and through an incredibly awkward but immensely smile-inducing ballroom routine.
And for something completely different, Lawrence and Cooper are next taking their fiery chemistry and letting it burn brighter, hotter, and a lot more dangerously in this upcoming adaptation of Ron Rash’s Depression-era novel. Cooper plays an ambitious timber heir who weds the even more ambitious Lady Macbeth-like title character, played by Lawrence. If it’s anything like the book, we’re in for a haunting, dark psychological thriller.