Jennifer Lawrence: ‘I had such a feminist meltdown about changing my name’

Jennifer Lawrence is currently promoting Causeway, which streams on AppleTV. She produced the film and shot half of it before the pandemic and half of it during the pandemic. She was also pregnant during the second part of filming. She plays a veteran dealing with a traumatic brain injury. She’s incredibly proud of the film, and she hopes this marks a new era of her career, where she’s doing smaller, more character-driven films. To promote Causeway, she chatted with the New York Times about the shift she’s made in the past three years. She stepped away from the limelight, met Cooke Maroney, married him and gave birth to their son Cy Maroney. She’s spent a lot of time just… existing as a normal person without all of the celebrity rigmarole. Some highlights from the NYT:

Why she left CAA: Some of her representatives had steered her away from smaller material like “Causeway,” warning that her audience wouldn’t understand. “I found out that a lot of filmmakers that I really loved and admired had scripts that weren’t even reaching me,” she said… in August 2018, as she wrapped reshoots for the “X-Men” film “Dark Phoenix,” she left CAA, the agency that represented her for 10 years. “I had let myself be hijacked,” she said.

The film that changed her career in a negative way: “‘Passengers,’ I guess. Adele told me not to do it! She was like, ‘I feel like space movies are the new vampire movies.’ I should have listened to her.”

Some celebrities grow so isolated by their celebrity that you can no longer detect anything real in their screen performances. “That can happen. And that was going to happen to me.”

On Causeway: “I obviously cannot relate to risking my life for my country but I can understand, reading ‘Causeway,’ why I’m getting so emotional about somebody who doesn’t feel like they belong anywhere unless they’re on a schedule.”

Fear of commitment: “When you don’t fully know yourself, you have no idea where to put yourself. And then I met my husband, and he was like, ‘Put yourself here.’ I was like, ‘That feels right, but what if it’s not?’” In retrospect, Lawrence realized she was having commitment anxiety, “and it was coming out of my performance in all these different creative ways, but I wasn’t conscious of it. Then I went back, and when I’m home with my husband making this family, I’m so happy I stayed. I’m so happy I didn’t freak out and cancel the wedding and run away and go, ‘I’ll never be taken down!’”

Changing her name to “Jenna Maroney” (like the 30 Rock character): “I thought I was the only one who noticed that! God, I had such a feminist meltdown about changing my name because it’s my identity, it’s the first thing I’m given. I was born with the name Jennifer Lawrence, but that got taken from me when I was 21 and I never got it back. So it didn’t feel like I was giving up anything. That name already belongs to them.”

She’s not the ingénue anymore: “Let’s be real, I’m only getting closer to 40,” she said, insisting that the pressure she used to feel “just doesn’t exist for an actress in her 30s…” She’s currently working with a young actor and she says “working with a 20-year-old is so depressing. I’m like, ‘Well, when YouTube was first invented, you were born.’”

She’s not scared to go out & live in the real world: “I’m not scared of 13-year-olds anymore. They have no idea who I am. I can tell things are different by my interactions in the real world, just by the way that I can move about life. There’s an occasional article about me walking out in Ugg boots, but other than that, the interest has lessened, God bless it.”

[From The NYT]

I always wondered if she changed her name to Maroney and there’s my answer. Apparently, she gets her monogram put on her phone and other things: JLM, Jennifer Lawrence Maroney. She’s truly Jenna Maroney! As for the rest of it… yes, she was overexposed and ubiquitous as a celebrity. When she stepped away from the grind, it was a good thing for her and for Hollywood. As for all of the age stuff…she’s only 32! She talks as if she’s already in her 40s. That being said, there is legitimately a world of difference between a 20-year-old and a 32-year-old.

Photos courtesy of Backgrid and Cover Images.

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57 Responses to “Jennifer Lawrence: ‘I had such a feminist meltdown about changing my name’”

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  1. T3PO says:

    I assume she’s referring to becoming famous when her name was taken from her? Either way a name is yours when it’s given to you, you can change it but it is yours. My feminist ass did not change my name because it is who I am. I also gave my kids my last name because they are mine. My husband’s name is in there too but mine is as prominent as his since it’s a partnership not ownership. And no disrespect to anyone who does change their name or their kids only have the partners name. Regardless don’t change your name if you don’t want to. If your man is offended by that then I’d say that’s a red flag.

    • Bettyrose says:

      I dated a guy for a couple years in my early twenties who was obsessed with me taking his name. He talked about it all the time. We weren’t engaged and I never really thought we would be. The name issue was one of several red flags.

    • Sue E Generis says:

      Yes, I was confused by that. She acts as though she had to give up her name. Someone should have let her know she had a choice. /s

      • Jennifer says:

        My impression is that most women think they have to change their name to his and have no choice about. Still. in 2022.

        I for one think it’s shitty to “have” to give up my name to be someone’s property because I was the one unlucky enough to be born with the vagina.

      • Tiffany:) says:

        I worked with someone about 10 years ago who chose not to change her name…but she would still receive correspondence and still be called Mrs. Hislastname all of the time. I was so irritated on her behalf!

      • Josephine says:

        I assume she meant that she wanted to change her name but also struggled with the meaning behind doing so. I’m hoping that in this day we can support women either way and give women the more generous interpretation. My last name is super unique and I did not change it. The kids also have my name. But I have total respect for women who choose a different course.

      • Wendy says:

        A friend of mine didn’t bother changing her last name when she married, but here’s a short and incomplete list of all the people who assumed she had, a surprising number of whom flipped their shit when they found out she’d kept her name:

        Her entire family
        Her husband’s entire family
        Her neighbors
        The parents of her small children’s friends
        Her OBGYN
        Her doula
        Her children’s preschool
        Her children’s elementary school
        Her real estate agent
        Her mortgage broker
        Every repairperson who has ever come to her home to fix something

    • HeatherC says:

      I understand what she’s saying. When she hit mega stardom “Jennifer Lawrence” became a commodity, a product and not as much a person as before. It was no longer just hers, it belonged to the industry to do as it wanted, the name drop, to drum up publicity for a project, like Microsoft or Apple, which aren’t people but products. It probably felt dehumanizing to her.

      • Amy T says:

        There are all kinds of reasons for taking on a spousal name. I have an ex who took my name (and dropped it when we split). One of my daughters changed her last name when she married and uses her birth name professionally (she’s a doctor and researcher). Another one didn’t. It’s really about what works best for your life. When I married their dad, one of the reasons I took his name (which I returned when I left him) was simply to not have to remember whose name I used when I dropped off the dry cleaning (metaphorically speaking).

      • HeatherC says:

        @AmyT I was more speaking to her comment that her name, Jennifer Lawrence, didn’t belong to her anymore and had been hijacked.

    • Arizona says:

      I changed my name because it was a leftover from my deadbeat father, and I wanted to share a last name with my stepkids.

      my mom got upset because she “didn’t think I was that sort of woman” (ironic, because she still has my dad’s last name but they’ve been divorced for almost thirty years). she wanted me to have my last name be my middle name at least. I pointed out that my middle name was the same as hers, so it meant more to me than my last name.

      I don’t think the expectation should be that women have to change their name, but I also don’t think it makes me less of a feminist for doing so, either.

      • Hootenannie says:

        @Arizona, thank you for sharing. I kept my name when I got married, but now that I’m pregnant with my first child, I’m considering changing it. My mom was scandalized. But how does holding onto the name of my abusive, addict father make me more of a feminist than starting a family with the name of a man who has supported me and believes in me more than anyone? How does that make me regressive?

      • AlpineWitch says:

        I changed my surname immediately after getting married as I had tried (to no avail) to get my father’s surname legally removed and swapped it with my mum’s for 2 decades prior to my wedding…

        Unfortunately Italy’s laws are quite regressive if you want to change your name/surname – it can only be done in exceptional cases and domestic violence for 20 years wasn’t apparently a good enough reason for the change.

        Needless to say I welcomed the fact that in UK you can change name/surname forever and finally binned my maiden surname in the bin of history.

        That’s why I never attack women who change their surnames as one cannot possibly know the reasons behind the change, it’s not always being non-feminist.

    • Jedi says:

      In Quebec, you CANT actually change your name through marriage (so, you can’t assume your partners name – you would need to go through a legal name change process which would change your birth certificate) So I don’t actually know if any women (or men) who have their partners last name. I’m not sure the history of it, especially considering how damn catholic the province is…

  2. Seraphina says:

    I loved the movie Passengers. Sad to hear she thought it was a bad move.
    I get the name change thing. Glad to see she’s content where she is and yeah, she sounds older than 32. I was trying to cope with being a stay at home mom at that age not ponder any introspection.

    • Arizona says:

      I think the movie and the messages in the movie were pretty bad, but it’s one of the only times I really enjoyed her acting.

    • Dee says:

      The movie had its moments. I hated Chris Pratt’s character for what he did, but then that’s all forgotten/forgiven because of all the action stuff in the last third of the movie.

  3. Bettyrose says:

    Good for her for settling into character driven work on streaming services. Her mega blockbuster days aren’t over yet but they will be eventually and streaming will keep her employed much longer.

  4. Jessica says:

    I always assumed I’d be ok changing my last name for marriage, but when it came down to it I freaked out and stalled for 3 years. My dad raised me and it was my name for 34 years, I was proud of it. My husband was so pissed and didn’t understand at all, I even asked him to change his last name to mine hoping he would understand and he literally laughed in my face and called me ridiculous for even suggesting it. I should’ve run.

    • ME says:

      Yikes ! Trust your gut. There was a good reason you stalled on changing your name !

    • Green Desert says:

      Ugh Jessica I’m sorry. Did you end up running or are you still in it? You don’t have to answer that of course. I just hope all is well. I always enjoy when you comment!

    • tealily says:

      I thought I’d feel really strongly about keeping my name, but I’m still thinking about taking my husband’s after we’ve been married for many years. He has a very common surname and encouraged me NOT to take it to avoid confusion in my life, but I like being part of that team. I still couldn’t talk him into taking mine, though, which is uncommon but short and easy. I’ve kept mine this far, I’ll probably never do the paperwork.

      • AMA1977 says:

        This is how I feel. I like being on the same team. Been married nearly 18 years, and I never thought about it being an “anti-feminist” choice. Yes, the roots of the custom are patriarchal, and yes, it could be a red flag, but for me it signified the creation of our unit. It definitely doesn’t make me any less a feminist.

        Also, my husband has a complicated family history (abandonment, adoption, raised in an emotionally fraught home) and remaking OUR family and OUR unit was important to him. He has professional credentials in his birth name, so a change on his part didn’t make sense. I was happy to give him the gift of a family unit with that immediate signifier and would make the same choice again, over and over.

        Funny story, my birth name is long and complicated, and necessitated spelling all of the time, and is ALWAYS mispronounced or misspelled. I was so excited about the practicality of swapping it for my husband’s “simple” short name. Which still needs to be spelled and is pronounced wrong all of the time. Can’t win for losing, lol.

      • tealily says:

        @AMA1977 that’s really sweet! I thought my husband’s name was pretty universally known, but I still have to spell that too!

  5. AlishaB says:

    I will always respect the fact that she is one of the few celebrities self-aware enough to realize she was becoming overexposed and that it was hurting her image. It couldn’t have been easy stepping away at the height of her career. She sounds like she has matured a lot and is also realistic about how Hollywood treats women after 30. Props to her, and I hope she can find some interesting projects to work on.

  6. ME says:

    It’s a personal choice…but unfortunately women do get judged for it. If you take your partner’s name, if you hyphenate both names, if you keep your name…someone has something to say about it. Do what makes you happy. No partner should assume you’re going to take their name though, or force you into it. It’s YOUR choice.

  7. HandforthParish says:

    I never even considered changing my name. my father hates it, but I don’t even know if my in-laws have even realised…
    We just eloped and carried on as before.

  8. Jo says:

    She annoys me so much gawd. I can’t help it. She wants to be fresh and smart but she comes across as such a silly bean. The thing with the name was so disingenuous, bless her heart. She sounds like a cool girl who has passed her sell by date and doesn’t know where to stand now. I know this sounds harsh but it annoys me that people without great talent are given so much money and attention.

    • Aly says:

      Same. I’ve never understood the hype about her, she’s too overrated imo. She made the smart move of laying low after people accused her of being a Harvey’s girl and now she’s back to being her annoying self.

  9. Nina says:

    I’m getting married [for the second time] in a few weeks, at age 65. I am flabbergasted at how many people ask me if I’m changing my name. I didn’t the first time either. My name is my name! I just don’t get it. I even put it in my wedding program, in a FAQ section: “Is Nina changing her name?” “Have you met Nina? You must be a wedding crasher! she is too old to get used to a new name,” etc.

  10. Imara219 says:

    Eh, I mean, each woman should do what she wants regarding the name change. I went the full traditional route, so my maiden name became my middle name, and I took my husband’s last name. I like that because my OG name is still there and anyone searching can see the old and the new. However, you do it, just make sure you communicate to your significant other about the choice.

    • Josephine says:

      One day men will communicate to US what their choice is – keep their names or change them to ours or adopt a third name that the two of you agree on. I’m all for all options, but I don’t think it’s just a decision for a woman and that she has to communicate it to her significant other.

      • imara219 says:

        I don’t know what about my particular comment had you respond, I said something in line with what a lot of other commenters said. Which was, do what you wish and what feels right for you”. I didn’t mention the government, Jen Law didn’t mention the government. This entire conversation is about what we are privately doing within our relationships and how we feel about them. If you feel differently, great, there is an option for you to expand this discussion.

  11. MK says:

    I am so excited she is bringing awareness to TBIs!!!! So many of my IPV and SA survivor clients have them. Like CBE in football, TBIs in the IPV and veteran communities are not discussed enough at all. Jen may not be a perfect messenger but at this point I’m grateful to anyone who sees and is willing to attach their celebrity to the work it takes to live, function and love with a TBI.

    As for her feminist comments…I thought I was a feminist until I got into my line of work. I was a naive idiot before, complaining about the challenges I faced and only caring about changes that would make MY life better instead of truly grasping and working to dismantle systems of oppression. I see her comments and think “God, she is still so young, and has so much more reality to experience.” I really hope she takes this on as a cause, she could do so much good!

  12. Becks1 says:

    I think she has made some very good choices for her image and career, in terms of sort of stepping back from the limelight and taking on different projects. She had this reputation as this Hollywood Party Girl who was always falling down and going out with her celeb friends (dunno how much was actually true obviously) and she took a very deliberate step back from that and I think its been really interesting to see.

    As for changing her name – its a big decision and I don’t fault any woman for what they choose to do. i did change my name for a few reasons, and I’m happy with my choice, 15 years later. In my suburban community I notice most women did change their names, but in my broader circle of friends from college and law school it seems to be about 50/50.

  13. Miss Owlsyn says:

    I mean, I can’t imagine it was fun for her when she was subjected to incredibly sexist assumptions and shaming surrounding Passengers, just for the crime of …..filming a movie with a man who later got divorced.

    And Passengers was not the best film but she tried something different from her other projects and that isn’t a bad thing. I can understand her not feeling much ownership over that role though.

  14. Jen says:

    I always joke that I strongly identify with my last name (and kept it after marriage) because, as a Jennifer born during peak Jennifer name popularity, I started school being called Jennifer [entire last name] because there was another Jennifer [same first initial] in my class (plus another Jennifer, and it was probably like 12 kids total in the class.)

    Slightly off topic, but my grandma was a J.Lo (though not Jennifer). One time I answered her landline and it was someone from her internet service provider . The guy literally said, “Hi, I’m calling on behalf of [company]. Am I speaking to [giggle] J.Lo?”

  15. DeluxeDuckling says:

    Women being expected to change their names is a form of erasure.

  16. WiththeAmerican says:

    She saved herself from being eaten alive. I just hope she doesn’t continue to think it’s marriage or eaten alive, which is kind of how she presented it.

  17. Lucía says:

    I can’t lie, I love how she sounds here.

  18. Dara says:

    Can we start asking men if they are going to change their name? And asking them why not if they decide against it. Seriously.

    Symbolically, I love the idea of creating a new name that both spouses adopt – a new name for a new family. I worked with someone that did that, in fact it was the husband’s idea.

  19. Aud says:

    I freaked out about changing my name so I never did. It’s been 13 years now and my husband didn’t care at all. My father passed away when I was young so I think that’s one reason I didn’t feel comfortable changing it. Plus this is who I’ve always been and getting married doesn’t change that so why change my name?

  20. Sue says:

    My husband told me when we got engaged, “I know you’ve already made your name in your career, and I don’t expect you to change it.” I already knew he was a keeper, but that sealed it. Now I know this was different for Jennifer – her career took her name and turned it into a commodity. I’d change it too if I were here.

    • SusieQ says:

      I got married this year at 36, and I’m going to keep my name. I’m literally the last person in my family with the name, and by this point in my life, I have so much with my name on it. And my husband is fully onboard, since we met many years ago and he’s always known me with this name. Names have such power, and I couldn’t imagine not having my last name.

  21. chumsley says:

    My husband left it up to me to decide whether I wanted to change my name. I wouldn’t find having my husband’s last name since it’s more interesting than mine but I’ve built my professional life with my name and it’d be too much trouble to change. When we had our son, we gave him my husband’s last name but we gave him a Japanese first name so both of our heritages were represented (I’m half Japanese and he’s Polish).

  22. Wilma says:

    Kept my own name and gave our daughter my husband’s name. That way all grandparents in our families see their name carried into the future, which I thought would be nice. I went with my gut feeling on keeping my name and my sister-in-law was all over us with how she was going to take her husband’s name. She did, but she ended up never using it and always uses her maiden name.

  23. Abbie says:

    Well this is one conversation 99.9% of men will never have….

  24. serena says:

    Everytime she speaks about feminism I wish she’d shut up and she only grates on my nerves more.

    Having said that, I’m glad she took that time off and wasn’t in our faces so much (and it seems she share the same feeling).