Lori Petty on Discovering Jennifer Lawrence

Jun 10, 2014 12:10am
GTY Lori Petty TG 140609 16x9 608 Lori Petty on Discovering Jennifer Lawrence

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After a long hiatus, Lori Petty, the star of 90s cult classics “Point Break,” “A League of Their Own” and “Tank Girl” is back on the screen in the second season of “Orange Is the New Black.”

When screen roles dried up, Petty, now 50, moved behind the camera, directing her feature debut “The Poker House” in 2008, and discovering none other than Jennifer Lawrence.

“I cast her in her first film,” Petty told The Daily Beast. “Look, she deserves one hundred percent of her success, period. In addition to that, I think I passed along 25 years of experience of being an actress to her.”

Petty knew immediately she had a star on her hands.

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“She’s amazing and the camera loves her, and that’s why I cast her,” she told the website. “It’s like when I first saw Leo DiCaprio in ‘This Boy’s Life.’ We were editing ‘A League of Their Own’ and De Niro and them were editing ‘This Boy’s Life’ next door. Me and Penny [Marshall] were inseparable because I wanted to absorb everything she was doing, so I’d go to post-production with her. So De Niro comes in and goes, ‘You’ve got to see this kid.’ So we went into the room and saw some unedited scenes with DiCaprio and both went, ‘There’s another movie star.’

Lawrence wasn’t the only young star Petty discovered. She also cast Chloe Moretz in “The Poker House.”

“She’s going to be around forever and ever,” Petty told The Daily Beast. “I wrote her half-page monologues, and she’d just knock them out of the park. It was a small budget, under $1.5 million, and she was doing like eight pages a day. I went up to her mom and said, ‘What do we do after lunch? I don’t want her to crash!’ and she went, ‘Oh no, she’s fine. This is what she does.’ She’s remarkable, that kid.”

“The Poker House,” based on Petty’s own experience of being raped by her mother’s pimp at 14, received stellar reviews.

The following year, she was cast in a two-episode arc on Fox’s “Prison Break.” Her role on OITNB marks her first major screen role since then.

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Petty plays Lolly, an affable inmate who befriends Piper Chapman, played by Taylor Schilling, in the premiere episode. Jodie Foster, an old friend of Petty’s, directed the episode.

“We have a mutual friend–Stockard Channing–and we used to go to her house all the time for dinner parties, and Jodie is super cool and sweet, but very quiet. That’s just her personality. But on the set, she’s jumping around, helping everyone, and just glowing,” Petty told The Daily Beast. “She’d say, ‘I look at my monitor and I see you, Lori, and it makes me so happy!’”

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