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Jennifer Lawrence sparks backlash by falsely claiming to be the first woman in the lead of an action movie

Following backlash on social media regarding her inaccurate statement, Lawrence told the Hollywood Reporter her comment was a "blunder" that "came out wrong."
Jennifer Lawrence
Jennifer Lawrence at the 2022 Toronto Film Festival.Chris Pizzello / Invision / AP

Jennifer Lawrence is sparking backlash after she falsely claimed to be the first woman in the lead of an action movie.

Lawrence made the comments in a nearly 45-minute sit-down discussion, published by Variety, in which she and fellow actor and producer Viola Davis discussed acting, inequities within the industry and motherhood, among other topics.

Lawrence, 32, said of the significance of her role playing protagonist Katniss Everdeen in "The Hunger Games": "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."

Lawrence went on to say, "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."

Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen in "The Hunger Games."
Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen in "The Hunger Games."Lionsgate

Critics on social media quickly pounced on Lawrence's comments, noting that several other women have starred as leads in action films — including Sigourney Weaver in the "Alien" films, Angelina Jolie in "Salt" and "Tomb Raider," Uma Thurman in "Kill Bill: Volume 1" and "Kill Bill: Volume 2; and Michelle Yeoh in several films, among them "Supercop," "Magnificent Warriors" and “Yes, Madam!”

Variety appeared to delete a tweet it had posted promoting Lawrence's comments after several Twitter users noted her inaccuracy.

Others said that while Lawrence's comment was technically incorrect, she accurately pointed to a larger issue of gender bias in Hollywood.

"It is untrue that no one had ever put a woman in an action movie before Jennifer Lawrence in Hunger Games," Franklin Leonard, the producer and founder of The Black List, a platform for film and TV writers, said on Twitter. "It is absolutely true that Hollywood had and has a real bias against women driven action movies because of this ridiculous belief about who identifies with whom."

On Thursday, Lawrence told the Hollywood Reporter she was aware her statement was inaccurate and claimed the error was unintentional: “That’s certainly not what I meant to say at all. I know that I am not the only woman who has ever led an action film. What I meant to emphasize was how good it feels. And I meant that with Viola — to blow past these old myths that you hear about … about the chatter that you would hear around that kind of thing. But it was my blunder and it came out wrong. I had nerves talking to a living legend.”

Davis and Lawrence star as leads in two recently released films: "The Woman King," featuring Davis as the leader of an all-female West African warrior unit, and "Causeway," starring Lawrence as a U.S. soldier who returns home from Afghanistan after having suffered a traumatic brain injury.