LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The Hunger Games sequel "Catching Fire" starring Louisville's own Jennifer Lawrence is getting rave reviews ahead of its premier.
Part of Jennifer's success traces back to her early modeling days. As WAVE 3 News found out, a prop of sorts from an early Louisville photo shoot she was in, holds more value than your average Hollywood memorabilia.
It's funny how things start.
"You had to jiggle it a lot," laughed Karen Lawrence, mother of actress Jennifer Lawrence. With flat tires and a rusting body, a beat up 1981 Ford Ranger sits idle in a Louisville driveway. But the old pickup's connection to one of Hollywood's biggest stars is a thing of beauty, especially when you consider what the truck has meant to the people who've owned it over the years.
Nicknamed Big Blue by Karen, the Lawrence farm truck was one of two used on the family's summer camp property. "He was always loyal and would start right up when I needed it," Karen recalled of Big Blue.
With horses and lakes, the picturesque Camp Hi-Ho was a favorite shooting spot for Jennifer's first agent and photographer Chris Kaufman who says at 14-years-old, Jennifer was a natural. "She just moved like crazy," Chris remembered, "and it made the photos that much better."
Chris, who's helped launch the careers of some serious talent, like Louisville's Nicole Scherzinger said what's wonderful about Jennifer is her loyalty. "She could have shot with anyone in New York City and she said, my photographer is Chris Kaufman," he said.
Karen said, "When Chris Kaufman wanted to do a shoot with Jen out at Hi-Ho, he did this shoot in Big Blue." Chris captured a seemingly vintage image of a young Jennifer in the truck's cab that landed in an Italian fashion magazine.
Chris said, "A lot of people did latch on to that photograph."
That includes Karen,"It's one of my favorites," the proud mom said of the early photo of Jennifer.
Karen said when the photo shoot was over, Chris couldn't stop talking about the truck, "He fell in love with Big Blue and he thought that was the coolest truck."
Loyal like her daughter, Karen decided since she had two trucks, she would sell Big Blue to Chris for $1. We asked Karen how she decided to just give it to him? "I saw him salivating," she laughed.
Chris planned to restore the truck one day, but those plans fell through when he moved in with his ill grandmother. "She hated that truck in the yard, " he recalled, "She liked everything to be her way."
While Karen and Chris loved the truck, it ended up with someone who truly cherished it.
"Jon was a great musician," Chris said of his buddy Jon Cook, who was well known in the Louisville area music scene. Spin Magazine even wrote about his punk band Crane.
Chris said of Jon's friendship, "If I needed anything, he would be there."
Since most artists are of the starving kind, Jon mowed lawns on the side and took care of Chris's Grandmother's yard.
Jon needed the truck. "I said, well why don't you take the truck?" Chris remembered.
When Jon's mother Peggy Spalding saw the old truck in her driveway she had a different reaction to it than everyone else. "Ugh," she laughed.
Jon, who starred in a 1994 independent film about the music business called "Half-Cocked," appreciated that a budding Louisville actress had a connection to Big Blue. Jon who was also a huge comic book fan was awestruck that Jennifer played a very blue Mystique in "X-Men: First Class."
Jon's sister Rhonda Alonso said, "He was just so excited that he had Jennifer Lawrence's truck!"
Peggy recalled, "Jon kept saying, Oh, Jennifer Lawrence is going to win an Oscar," his mom continued, "I said, I don't even know who she is!"
That's because Jon owned the truck a few years ago.
As Jennifer's popularity grew, Peggy started watching her interviews and understood why her son thought so much of her. Peggy remembered someone asking Jennifer where she went to acting school, "She said, I never went to acting school, I'm a pathological liar!" Peggy laughed, "I loved it and I said 'Oh My God, you can tell she's from Louisville!'"
Karen said of Chris giving the truck to his friend, "I'm glad to see that he passed it on and it was loved," she smiled.
Sadly, Jon Cook never got to see Jennifer Lawrence win an Oscar, pancreatic failure took his life just before the Academy Awards. The truck now sits broken down in Peggy's driveway as the family hasn't been able to part with it.
Jon's sister Rhonda said, "If somebody would really want it and be able to appreciate it, like we have and like my brother did," she said, "Then it should go to a good home."
The truck certainly has no shortage of sentimental value, but out of curiosity, WAVE 3 News checked to see what it might be worth?
We contacted the Nate D. Sanders Auction House, the same company who hosted the sale of clothing worn by Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook, those items sold for $12,000.
They said, "Yes, the truck would be valuable because of its connection to Jennifer's photo shoot." They would have to evaluate it to determine just how valuable it is. However, they said it's probably worth at least $10,000.