LOS ANGELES – Last year, during an interview to promote "The Hunger Games," Jennifer Lawrence talked about how blessed she felt to ride the Batman roller coaster at Six Flags after the park had closed.
While she had earned an Oscar nomination for "Winter's Bone," Lawrence was not yet a household name. That happened when "The Hunger Games" was released in March 2012.
Fast forward 18 months and Lawrence is one of the best-known — and respected — actresses in Hollywood, following up her portrayal of Katniss Everdeen with an Oscar-winning performance in "Silver Linings Playbook."
As "Catching Fire," the sequel to "Hunger Games," opens this week, the 23-year-old Kentucky native says the only thing that's changed is the pixie haircut she now sports.
"I'm actually surprised at how surprised everyone is that nothing has changed or feels different," Lawrence says. "I think everyone believes that when you win an Oscar, it's like some sort of magical charm that changes everything in your life. It really hasn't. I have had the most amazing year, career-wise, and I am so grateful and so honored, but it really hasn't changed anything for my personal life.
"I still put on my acting pants one leg at a time."
She has seen a lot more filmmakers interested in her. She's finished, or is working on, eight projects that will keep her busy for the next few years.
As she's already shown, Lawrence likes to work on a range of challenges. Current projects include the fact-based "American Hustle," a reprisal of her role as Mystique in the "X-Men" sequel, the final two chapters in the "Hunger Games" and a new version of John Steinbeck's "East of Eden." She even has a role in the flat-out comedy "Dumb and Dumber To."
The attention Lawrence is getting in the film industry has created what she calls "pinch me" moments.
"I am amazed at some of the people who even know about me now or that I hear want to work with me or want to send me over a script," Lawrence says. "These are people I have idolized, and that has been very jaw-dropping and lovely."
This down-to-Earth attitude makes Lawrence one Oscar away from being the female Tom Hanks. Like Hanks, Lawrence is a talented performer with the kind of open personality that makes everyone feel comfortable.
She also has a wicked sense of humor, apparent when she makes a joke about the bad decision of wearing tight leather pants for the day of interviews.
And she laughs at herself after accidentally saying that she and fellow actress Jena Malone wore "morning sickness bracelets" aboard a spinning cornucopia during one of the more action-oriented scenes of "Catching Fire."
After correcting herself to say "motion sickness," Lawrence joked that her publicist will be dealing with that misstatement for a while.