The Hunger Games star Jennifer Lawrence earned an Oscar nomination for her breakthrough performance in the indie drama Winter's Bone and played a young Mystique in X-Men: First Class. And while both are very popular films, neither an Oscar nomination nor the attention of X-Men fans could prepare the 21 year old actress for the hoopla surrounding her casting as Katniss Everdeen in the film version of Suzanne Collins' worldwide bestselling The Hunger Games trilogy.
The Hunger Games has a passionate fan following, and each and every casting decision by writer/director Gary Ross was dissected and commented on online. And when Ross announced Lawrence's casting as Katniss, some of those fans were up in arms about the fact she had blonde hair and didn't look as they'd pictured the book's heroine. At the LA press day for the Lionsgate Films release, Lawrence talked about her reaction to learning some The Hunger Games fans were upset about her blonde hair.
"I never saw it - I heard it from reporters, like, 'So many people were upset because you were blonde,' and I was like, 'Really? That's what they get upset about?' There would be a million other things that I'd get upset about if I were a fan and saw me get cast other than my hair. That can be dyed so easily," said Lawrence. "I thought that it was funny because I thought maybe they thought I'd go through the whole movie with blonde hair, and just be like, 'Yeah, Katniss is blonde. She wears lipstick and she fights in high heels.'"
On why people connect with and respond to The Hunger Games:
Jennifer Lawrence: "Because this is the generation that's obsessed with reality television and watching people's lives fall apart while we eat popcorn. This is the new generation that's kind of started this obsession and I'm every bit a part of it. Also, I think that people love following a character like this who's a hero that doesn't mean to be a hero ,that kind of goes against all odds and fights back when something is wrong and doesn't stay quiet."
On making sure Katniss is a real female and not a Lara Croft type character or a female version of James Bond:
Jennifer Lawrence: "Well, that was the beauty of the script. That's the beautiful thing about her in the books and in the script. It was important to keep her vulnerable. I didn't want anybody at any point in time watching her in the arena and thinking that she couldn't die, because I don't think that there was one moment while she was in the arena where she thought that she wasn't going to die. So, I think that keeping vulnerability and keeping her scared... She's a young girl that's in this position, she's not a Lara Croft or a James Bond who's done this a million times and knows he's going to survive. She doesn't. "
On fame and being in the public eye with her involvement in The Hunger Games:
Jennifer Lawrence: "Well, it's just weird because my job is normally reading scripts, talking to directors, showing up on set and then all of a sudden my job was wearing the right designers and getting people to like you. It's odd, especially because you're either a plastered kind of version of yourself all the time, which is a lot easier to read, which is why I never read articles anymore because I've never been, like, 'Yeah, good job, Jennifer. You sound totally normal and great and smart.' So, it's just weird. It's a weird thing to get used to. It's understandable. I get why it's a part of the job, but it's just odd."
On the parallel between being in the spotlight as an actress and Katniss' journey in The Hunger Games:
Jennifer Lawrence: "There were definitely parts of the books where I was reading that and going, 'I know how that feels.' I know what it feels like to feel like you're a doll and people are shoving dresses onto you that you would never wear and all this makeup and just not really feeling like yourself, cameras and questions. It's just a weird thing to not feel like yourself and have a camera in your face."
Did being the face of The Hunger Games give her any pause?:
Jennifer Lawrence: "It did give me pause because it was scary. It was kind of a terrifying thing, but there was nobody that I could really talk to because it was kind of like one of those things that nobody really knows what you want other than you. So, there was nothing that anybody could really say. It was just something that I had to workout with myself. That was the three days that I gave myself before I said yes, just thinking through every single thing, combing through every doubt so that when I was here and people were taking my picture and people were screaming and following me or whatever was going to happen, I knew that I thought it through and I said yes without a doubt in my mind. I signed on and I haven't doubted or second-guessed myself since."
On those three days of thinking it through:
Jennifer Lawrence: "I was in England and I was walking around London, going into coffee shops and going in everywhere and I just kept thinking, 'A year from now I'll be in here and people will be taking pictures of me with their phones and that'll suck.' But I've just spent the last months kind of enjoying every last thing of being semi-normal. I went to Times Square in New York and I've left the house in sweatpants and I've been like, 'Crap. It's too late.' They've already got pictures of that."
On the violence in the book and how that will translate to the big screen:
Jennifer Lawrence: "I was concerned that they would water it down because the violence and the brutality is the heart of the movie. It sparks a revolution. It sparks an uprising. If you water that down, then you water down not just this movie but all of them. There's nothing to water down when you think about it. It is kids killing kids. It's innocent children that are forced into an arena and forced to either kill each other or die. That is what makes these films so powerful. That's what makes the books so powerful. That's why an entire war begins."
"I think we're all under agreement that we weren't going to make a watered down version of Suzanne [Collins'] books. So, we understood that it was PG-13 and there were going to have to be some changes there, and I think it really worked in our favor because it made the violence more realistic. Violence in real life is quick. It's over very quickly. Fights last a matter of seconds. You get shot with an arrow - you're down, you're dead. You get your neck cracked, you fall and you're dead. We didn't have time to do gratuitous blood gurgling out of people's necks, which I think made it a lot more realistic. All the violence is there, but it's just over quickly."
On her favorite qualities of Katniss':
Jennifer Lawrence: "I think just what she was. I admire her. She's a leader. She's a warrior. She's a Joan of Arc. She's this brave girl that gets shoved into this horrifying situation and not only comes out on top, but sparks an uprising. Not only does she win, but she changes the game. She not only beats their game, she changes it. I thought that she was an incredible girl."
On singing as Katniss:
Jennifer Lawrence: "I'm not musical at all. [...] I'm a horrible singer, like awful. So, I was mostly just kind of singing the song and interrupting myself, going, 'I'm so bad. I'm so bad, I'm sorry.' They were like, 'If you can just get through the song once, we'll auto-tune you. Don't worry about it.'"
On The Hunger Games action figures:
Jennifer Lawrence: "It's cool. I'd by lying if I was, like, 'Oh, I think it's stupid.' It is bizarre that someone is going to have a doll with my face on it. You don't ever think that way when you're an actor. It's weird."
"Michael Burns from Lionsgate texted me a picture of the action figure and the only thing I could think to reply was, 'I'm a choking hazard?' I saw it on the box and I was like, 'Oh, I don't want to do that.' It's a weird thing to process because you look at it and it's the same thing as looking at a movie poster. I can look at it as much as I want, but it doesn't look like me because when I look in the mirror I'm not going like this."
On the differences between playing Katniss and playing Mystique in X-Men: First Class:
Jennifer Lawrence: "There was a lot more pressure because with The X-Men I could just watch Rebecca Romijn and be like, 'Oh, okay, that's how she walks.' There was something to base it off, and then with this it was just that a lot of people have read these books. A lot of people have an idea of what she looks like and how she would be. I've got my own idea of that and now I just have to do it. So, it was different in that sense."
On being an action star and part of major franchises:
Jennifer Lawrence: "The X-Men thing happened. I was doing indies and I wasn't really looking for a studio movie to do and then I read the script and it was great. It was really cool, and I think that Matthew Vaughn is an incredible filmmaker. Then it was one of those things where you can do indies and then you can't do the studios that you want to do, or you can do a couple of studios and then you can do all of the indies that you want to do. And then if you love a script for a studio…it just kind of opens your career up more, which is kind of a wise thing. Then after doing it, it's a cool thing. It wasn't until later where I was like, 'I'm Mystique. That's cool.' She's kind of a historic superhero and that's really important to a lot of people and the comic has been around for so long. It's a cool thing to be a part of."
On the possibility of another X-Men movie in her future:
Jennifer Lawrence: "I don't know. I mean, if they write me in, then I'm in. But I don't even know what it'll be. Just what everyone else has heard. Just whispers, and I haven't heard an official word yet."
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The Hunger Games opens in theaters on March 23, 2012.