Why Jennifer Lawrence Will Make a Great Katniss in "The Hunger Games" Movie
The wait is over
Hunger Games fans can relax. Katniss has been cast at last. Twenty-year-old Jennifer Lawrence will play the reluctant warrior in the upcoming adaptation of the hugely popular young adult novel, The Hunger Games, set for release March 23, 2012.
It's been a whirlwind for Lawrence these past couple years. From her breakout role in the critically acclaimed Winter's Bone (2010), which garnered her an Oscar nomination for Best Actress, to landing one of the most coveted roles in a sure-to-be blockbuster hit, Lawrence has everything going for her right now. Another upcoming part includes the young Mystique in X-Men: First Class.
Fans of the Hunger Games book series have been vocal about their top choices for the lead role. Contenders included Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit), Chloe Moretz (Kick-Ass, Let Me In), and Abigail Breslin (My Sister's Keeper, Zombieland). Fans debated over their favorites and pitched their own ideas for lesser-known actresses. They knew how important it was to get Katniss just right--besides her looks and physical traits, she needed to possess the same inner strength, loyalty to her family, and fierce will to survive.
If Jennifer Lawrence's performance in Winter's Bone is any indication, I think they've found the right young lady. Hair color and physical build are hardly critical factors--hair dye and make-up are a simple solution to any quibbles about her looks. What matters is her ability to play such a tough, yet vulnerable character. There are actually a lot of similarities between Katniss and Ree Dolly. Both are forced to take over and support their dependent families, forced to grow up quickly despite their tender ages, and determined to do whatever it takes to survive in a harsh and violent environment. Both are pitted against seemingly unsurmountable odds.
Suzanne Collins speaks
Suzanne Collins herself had a hand in the casting process and wholeheartedly supported Lawrence for the role. The author of the books said, "Could she believably inspire a rebellion? Did she project the strength, defiance and intellect you would need to follow her into certain war? For me, she did." While some fans worried that the actress picked for Katniss would be too old, Collins was leery of choosing someone too young. Even though she's sixteen at the start of The Hunger Games, Katniss is older than her years emotionally and maturity-wise. She's also very guarded for someone her age, afraid to let anyone in and crack her tough exterior. Collins puts Katniss through enough hell in the trilogy; let her be played by someone old and strong enough to take it.
As for Lawrence, she accepted the part humbly, recognizing her duty to do Katniss justice and satisfy the fans. With Ellen Ripley as butt-kicking inspiration, she looks forward to playing the tough-as-nails character and learning to wield a bow and arrow.
She's come a long way since Winter's Bone, going from a relative unknown to a Sundance favorite and an Oscar nominee. Do yourself a favor as you wait for The Hunger Games to arrive in theatres and watch Winter's Bone. While it's not about a dystopian world in which children battle to the death, it comes pretty close in tone with its depiction of the poverty-stricken and meth-ravaged Ozark wilderness. If Lawrence can handle that world, she's ready for the Arena.