Jennifer Lawrence says she dieted for the first time for her new movie, Red Sparrow, but barely made it through

Jennifer Lawrence resisted dieting for a movie role for years. But when it came to playing a former Russian ballerina in her new film, Red Sparrow, she changed her mind.

“Red Sparrow was the first time that I was really hungry, and disciplined,” the actress, 27, told Vanity Fair for their March cover. “I can’t be in character as an ex-ballerina and not feel like an ex-ballerina.”

Along with dieting, Lawrence also spent months working with a dance instructor to nail the movement and body image.

“She really trained a tremendous amount,” her director, Francis Lawrence, said. “She worked with a ballet coach for three months and did a lot of exercise.”

He arranged the shoot schedule so Lawrence could film the dancing scenes first, and then get back to her regular meals, which she said was necessary.

Jennifer Lawrence in Red Sparrow

“I can’t work on a diet. I’m hungry. I’m standing on my feet. I need more energy,” Lawrence said. “I remember having a meltdown, freaking out that I had eaten five banana chips.”

Lawrence added that she had initially planned on dieting for her role in the Hunger Games series, but a fast-food vice got in the way. She then dealt with criticism from reviewers who said she wasn’t thin enough for the role.

“I’ve always wondered what it would take to get me to really diet, to really be hungry, because I’ve never done it for a movie,” she said. “For Hunger Games, they told me to lose weight, and then I discovered Jack in the Box.”

And once she was done with the ballet scenes in Red Sparrow, Lawrence found her European version of Jack in the Box as she continued to film in Hungary.

“I discovered this Viennese kielbasa sausage in an uncircumcised French-bread roll, with pickle relish. I had that almost every day in Budapest — which you can see, because I continue to grow in the movie,” she said, laughing. “Dieting is just not in the cards for me.”