It's not as if Jennifer Lawrence gave up on love.
But for a spell in late 2015 she wasn't feeling super confident that it was in the cards for her. She had ended her five-year romance with fellow actor Nicholas Hoult more than a year earlier and a year-long on-and-off romance with rocker Chris Martin had fizzled as well, leaving the then-25-year-old secure in telling ABC News' Diane Sawyer that she had stopped envisioning herself as a bride. While she was absolutely sure that she would have kids (“I definitely want to be a mother,”) she was less certain on the husband front.
“I don't know if I ever will get married and I'm OK with that,” the already well-decorated actress asserted in a Nightline interview that November. The solid friendships she'd held onto before she skyrocketed to Hollywood's top tier and the pals she collected since (she had kicked off her enviable BFF bond with Amy Schumer just six months earlier) provided enough companionship. “I don't feel that I need anything to complete me,” she explained. “I love meeting people—men, women, whatever; I love people coming into your life and bringing something.”
Then Cooke Maroney arrived and brought with him some hope. Some eight months after the lauded star (since exploding onto the scene with 2010's Winter's Bone, she's collected three Golden Globes and won an Oscar for Silver Linings Playbook, her second of four nominations) began quietly dating the 34-year-old art gallery director, she accepted his proposal in February, her rep confirmed to E! News.
“I definitely wasn't at a place where I was like ‘I'm ready to get married.' I just met Cooke, and I wanted to marry him,” she explained her change of heart on the NAKED With Catt Sadler podcast in June. “We wanted to marry each other. We wanted to commit fully.”
Tonight they will, with a source telling E! News they've invited 150 guests to watch them wed at the Belcourt mansion in Newport, Rhode Island. Roughly a year-and-a-half into their romance, the once-marriage shy star has no doubts about her choice. “You know, he's my best friend,” the 29-year-old told Catt Sadler. “I feel very honored to become a Maroney.”
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It's a future she couldn't envision just a few year back. To be fair, she was admittedly lost after calling cut on the relationship with Hoult that had consumed her early adult years. She and the British actor, 29, had met in 2010 while filming X-Men: First Class, just as the Kentucky native was on the precipice of becoming an award show darling. They split briefly in 2013, but were brought back together for X-Men: Days of Future Past before calling it quits again in August 2014.
Suddenly Lawrence was looking at a world that didn't include her most formative relationship to date. Nor was she set to get covered in the blue body paint required to play X-Men‘s Mystique or don Katniss' braids, with filming on The Hunger Games franchise wrapped as well.
“These movies had been my life for so long and they had to come first in everything,” she said. “I was also in a relationship with somebody for five years and that was my life. So my life was this person and these movies and we broke up around the same time that I wrapped those movies. Being 24 was this whole year of, ‘Who am I without these movies? Who am I without this man?'”
By his own assertion, Lawrence's relationship with Hoult hadn't been jarred by her quick ascension to the A-list or Hunger Games fans' rabid desire to know every piece of her world. “The privacy thing obviously changes but the rest pretty much stays the same,” he told V Magazine months ahead of their final breakup. “It's like that thing whereby you don't believe your own hype. Enjoy the good times, but don't get swept away with it. I think that's something she's capable of doing, and that's what makes her special, but yeah, it is very odd, and I am just kind of a bystander in many ways. It is well deserved for her. I haven't really seen any change in her.”
The problem, a source told Us Weekly, was he simply wasn't seeing enough of her. No longer committed to the same film set (he went on to film Dark Places, Mad Max: Fury Road and Kill Your Friends), “They just weren't together a lot,” said the source, “her life is a whirlwind. They have gotten back together before, it just got to be too hard for now.”
Nor did a subsequent romance with Coldplay frontman Martin, 41, pan out, with a source once again citing scheduling issues. Lawrence began seeing her second British beau five months after his divorce from Gwyneth Paltrow. And though the Goop queen seemed to approve, telling Howard Stern‘s SiriusXM radio show that her ex-husband “wouldn't be with someone who isn't great,” Martin struggled to balance Lawrence, kids Apple Martin, 14, and Moses Martin, 12, and his much-desired me time.
“Chris doesn't really want the relationship to end, but he needs to be flexible so he can see his family as much as possible with his own work schedule,” a Martin source explained to E! News in August 2015, after the pair had ended things for the second time. “He's crazy about Jen but wants to keep his own schedule and be able to do what he wants when he wants to do it.”
But Lawrence had no interest in being someone's fourth priority. As a friend put it to E! News, “She was tired of him being so noncommittal.”
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After all, she was just a simple midwestern girl looking for your average nice guy. She could see how potential mates could be threatened by her whole J. Law persona, what with two major movie franchises under her belt and a partnership with writer-director-producer David O. Russell that had netted her some of her best roles, but there was no need to be a jerk.
“No one ever asks me out,” she revealed to Vogue‘s December 2015 issue, her relationship with Martin now firmly in the rearview. “I am lonely every Saturday night. Guys are so mean to me. I know where it's coming from—I know they're trying to establish dominance—but it hurts my feelings. I'm just a girl who wants you to be nice to me. I am straight as an arrow. I feel like I need to meet a guy, with all due respect, who has been living in Baghdad for five years who has no idea who I am.”
And if she were to find that in-the-dark gem, she really felt they could have something special. But for now she was navigating the type of romances typical to most twentysomethings. Describing one ex as “sexy,” she told the venerable fashion mag, “but I didn't like how he made me feel. When someone makes you insecure, it's strangely exhilarating because you keep trying to fight for that validation.”
She knew it wasn't healthy, per se, but ultimately she was able to find that silver lining: “It's what you want to have before you get married, so that you don't seek it out once you are.”
Her wisdom was coming mainly from friends who had just committed to tying the knot, assistant Justine Ciarrocchi was already wed and best friend Laura Simpson (the pair met at an industry event and “hit it off over a mutual respect for Chandler Bing,” Simpson shared in a blog, “and we've been eating pizza together ever since,”) was next.
And she was confident she had what it took to handle matrimony head on. “I can't wait to be married,” she said. “I feel like if I find that one person who I want to spend the rest of my life with, who I want to be the father of my children, that I would absolutely not f–k it up.”
As for who that perfect man would be, well, she had a list of imminently reasonable criteria.
She'd like a guy who shares her penchant for reality TV and wouldn't mind an evening spent vacillating from Dance Moms to Doomsday Preppers to the entire Real Housewives oeuvre. “I love Intervention, New York Housewives—and Beverly Hills, New Jersey, and Atlanta Housewives,” she told Vanity Fair in 2014. “I mean, I love them all, but Miami—oh, my God! Miami is really special.”
And though she works in an industry whose bread and butter is turning life partnerships into near-unattainable stories of romance, she was simply looking for a mate who, “you know, isn't afraid to fart in front of me [rather] than to have big, passionate love. I'd rather have just a peaceful time. [Those relationships] are deeper because you can be your true self with somebody, and somebody can be their true self with you.”
She'd also like to skip the unnecessary tiffs. “I don't like fighting, and I find argumentative people the most annoying people on the planet,” she added. “Like, why do you still want to be fighting? It's just unattractive.” Plus, that's time that could be better spent cozying into the couch. “We should both just move on and watch TV. Basically, what I'm saying is all I need in a relationship is somebody to watch TV with me.”
That wasn't quite what she found in famed director Darren Aronofsky. She and the Oscar-nominated director linked up after finishing work on their widely-panned film mother! in 2016. Had Lawrence had her way, it would have been far sooner, having immediately labeled the 49-year-old as “hot” after their initial pitch meeting. “I remember I was holding my dog and I shut the door and when the door shut I went, ‘Pippy that's called sexual tension,” she shared with Marc Maron on his WTF with Marc Maron podcast last February. “He played hard to get for like nine months, maybe longer, which just killed me.”
Together for the whole of the press tour, Lawrence later admitted that critiques of their masterpiece, meant to be an indictment on the disrespectful way we've come to treat Mother Earth, took a toll.
“Normally, I promote a movie, you put the work in to promoting it, ask people to go see it, and then it's just kind of out of your hands. I normally just kind of let it go,” she told Adam Sandler during a November 2017 installment of Variety's “Actors on Actors” series. “Dating the director is different.”
When they'd get back to the hotel after a long day of shilling for the film, “the last thing I want to talk about or think about is a movie,” she said. “He comes back from the tour, and that's all he wants to talk about and I get it. It's his baby. He wrote it. He conceived it. He directed it. I was doing double duty trying to be a supportive partner while also being like, ‘Can I please, for the love of God, not think about mother! for one second?'”
Listening to him read the reviews aloud was even more grueling. “I finally was just like, ‘It's not healthy. Neither of us are doing it because if I read it, I start getting defensive.' Especially because it's my man.”
So it made sense that when pal Simpson mentioned she had someone in mind who was industry-adjacent (Maroney's gallery, Gladstone 64 represents bold-named artists such as Lena Dunham‘s father Carroll Dunham) but decidedly not part of Hollywood, Lawrence was interested.
It's not as if she was holding any animosity to the previous men she had dated, all as well-known as herself. “I'm friends with all my exes, actually. For the most part, yeah,” she told Maron. “I have a theory. I think it's because I'm blunt. I don't think that you can have any sort of bad relationship with anybody if you're just blunt. Everybody always knows how you feel at all times and there's no lying, it's just honesty. Everybody's a good guy to each other. All my boyfriends have been wonderful. Nick [Hoult] was a great boyfriend.”
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None had left her crushed, really, though each split was admittedly a blow to her confidence. “Every time I go through a breakup, it's not like my heart isn't broken. They just never did anything to like, devastate me. They were just good people. Maybe that's also the secret. I'm attracted to good people.”
But she was ready to find one that could really last. “I have not had sex in a very long time,” she confessed to Stern on his radio show. “I would like to have a relationship, you know—it's hard out there!”
Weeks into her romance with Vermont-bred Maroney, a fixture at high-end art openings in New York City, they went from being careful not to be seen together, to openly in love, going about their relationship much like any Manhattan couple. On any given day, they could be spotted at The Smile, a favorite of Lawrence pal Justin Theroux, Italian restaurant and wine bar Felice 64, taking in a New York Rangers game or simply picking up groceries, with trips to two of the world's most romantic cities—Paris and Rome—thrown in for good measure.
By January, according to Us Weekly, the duo were bringing their bags back to a shared apartment. “Things between them are very serious,” an insider told the outlet. “They definitely appear to be in it for the long haul.”
A source tells People the pair gelled over a mutual love of arts and culture “and living a life that includes both of their passions, yet sits outside of it,” but for Lawrence determining that Maroney was right for her came down to a few simple questions. “I don't know, I started with the basics. How do I feel? Is he nice? Is he kind?” she shared with Sadler. “It's just—this is the one, I know that sounds really stupid but he's just, he's—you know. He's the greatest person I've ever met.”