Two of Hollywood’s leading women are costarring in the thriller Red Sparrow this spring — and apparently they get along pretty well. Mary-Louise Parker tells PEOPLE that working with Jennifer Lawrence was “awesome.”
The Weeds actress, 53, says Lawrence, 27, doesn’t seem “at all” like a celebrity.
“She’s very authentic,” Parker told PEOPLE at the Change Begins Within: Healing the Hidden Wounds of War Benefit Dinner, hosted by the David Lynch Foundation in New York on Wednesday.
“She doesn’t feel like a movie star. It doesn’t seem like she’s burdened by that, which is cool.”
Lawrence is known for portraying strong female characters in films like The Hunger Games, Winter’s Bone and the upcoming spy thriller Red Sparrow. In it, Lawrence portrays Dominika Egorova, a former prima ballerina who’s forced to give up her craft over a career-ending injury and manipulated into becoming a Red Sparrow, a young person trained to use her body and mind as weapons.
Parker has “always liked tougher women,” but also calls Lawrence a “sweetheart.”
“[Lawrence] was awesome. There’s something really fresh and new about her that I liked,” says Parker. “She’s tough and she’s sweet. I liked her a whole lot.”
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The David Lynch Foundation benefit dinner raised money to teach veterans transcendental meditation as a treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder. Parker was in attendance along with Tom Hanks.
Although both actors are active meditators, Parker is also supportive of the David Lynch Foundation because she is from a military family. Her late father and two brothers are veterans, and she believes helping the mental state of veterans is a cause that’s often overlooked.
“[When my father served] there was really no support. There was no system for helping and every single day veterans commit suicide,” Parker says. “The kind of trauma they come back with is something that I felt the effects of my whole life.”
Parker introduced one of her brothers to meditation, and says it “changed his life.” She also meditates with her two kids.
“It’s really sweet when you sit quietly with your kids like that,” says the actress. “It’s so emotional to me being the daughter of a soldier, and the sister of soldiers to hear what this program is doing.”
Red Sparrow opens March 2, 2018.