On Friday, actress Jennifer Lawrence returns to the big screen with a role in the X-Men movie “Dark Phoenix.”
It’s her first film since announcing in February 2018 that she would be taking a year off from her red-hot acting career.
It was an unconventional move for someone who already had four Oscar nominations — including a Best Actress win for “Silver Linings Playbook” in 2012.
“No one would say that when you’re as big a star as Jennifer that you should take a year off, it’s not that sensible,” one Hollywood insider told The Post. “But she has all of that ‘Hunger Games’ money and she can afford to sit back.”
And Lawrence — who moved with her mother from Kentucky to New York City to pursue acting at 14 — has created a more relaxed life for herself. In June of last year, she started dating Cooke Maroney, the director of the Gladstone 64 art gallery on the Upper East Side (among its clients are painter Carroll Dunham, father of “Girls” star Lena Dunham). The two are set to marry later this year, and sources expect the couple’s families to be very involved.
Maroney’s parents, art dealer James Maroney and Suki Fredericks, own Vermont’s Oliver Hill Farm — a popular wedding venue. For her engagement party last month at Brooklyn’s River Cafe, Lawrence wore a pink dress by her cousin Lauren Wells, a wedding-gown designer who founded the label L. Wells Bridal.
The couple have been apartment hunting in Manhattan and, according to a source close to Lawrence, will make efforts to stay connected while she is working: “Jen and Cooke have a very happy, trusting relationship. I can see them taking time out to travel together, with Cooke joining Jen on set.”
In 2015, Lawrence told “Late Show” host Stephen Colbert it was hard work being “J. Law.”
“I don’t stop working, because I am a show pony. I don’t have a choice,” she explained. “So I just keep going until eventually my body is like, ‘If we don’t make her barf or pass out, she won’t stop.’ ”
And even though she wasn’t in front of a camera this year, she was putting plans in place for her return.
“Jennifer may not have been acting this year, but she has a ton of producing projects that she’s been working on,” said the close source.
According to sources, “Dark Phoenix” will be Lawrence’s final role in the X-Men franchise. But in the coming weeks, she is scheduled to start filming a project in New Orleans with acclaimed theater director Lila Neugebauer, playing a soldier who suffers a traumatic brain injury in Afghanistan.
After that, she is slated to star as disgraced Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes in the movie adaptation of the book “Bad Blood.”
“Movies are Jennifer’s priority,” said the close source.
She’s also said to be happy to put distance between herself and the Harvey Weinstein sexual-assault scandal.
The disgraced movie exec’s company produced “Silver Linings Playbook,” and a source within the Weinstein world confirmed that the mogul wanted to make her into his next golden girl.
“Jennifer’s her own woman,” said the Hollywood insider. “Even when she won the Oscar, she never attended Harvey’s annual Oscar parties in the years after she won. And this is where all the A-listers went to ‘kiss the ring.’ ”
In fact, Lawrence didn’t even thank Weinstein during her Academy Awards acceptance speech, though she called the glaring omission a “brain fart” weeks later.
“At the GLAAD Awards in 2013, she had to appear on stage to give Bill Clinton an award with Harvey and she couldn’t seem to get away from Harvey quickly enough afterwards,” added the movie insider. “He asked her to join him for drinks and she was like ‘no, I’m good.’ She was clearly distancing herself from him. She always saw Harvey for who he really was.”
Lawrence is said to have been furious in December, when an actress who filed a lawsuit against Weinstein claimed that the producer had told her: “I slept with Jennifer Lawrence and look where she is; she has just won an Oscar.”
In a statement, Lawrence replied, “I have never had anything but a professional relationship with [Weinstein]. This is yet another example of the predatory tactics and lies that he engaged in to lure countless women.”
The socially conscious star also spent the past year working behind the scenes for RepresentUs, an activist organization dedicated to engaging young people in the political process.
Lawrence auctioned herself off on the fundraising site Omaze, all to benefit RepresentUs: winning bidders had the chance to join her for a pizza party and a wine-tasting trip, and to be locked in an escape room with the star.
She was also a speaker at the politically oriented Unrig Summit in March and the Concordia Summit last September.
Even though she’s returning to movies, friends say Lawrence will continue working in politics. They add that she is looking forward to having kids with Maroney — though not just yet.
Said a pal of the star’s: “Jennifer has a big career and the thing about Cooke is that he will help her navigate the stuff in Hollywood that doesn’t really matter.”
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