Many The Hunger Games fans (including me) were not thrilled when Jennifer Lawrence was cast as Katniss Everdeen in the film adaptation of Suzanne Collins‘ dystopian trilogy.
Not that anyone questioned Lawrence’s talent. She’s just so blonde and pretty and white — nothing like the way Collins described Katniss.
This week, Entertainment Weekly gives us our first look at Lawrence as Katniss, plus an exclusive interview a few days before she was due on the North Carolina set. She’s brunette and tan, with clothes that deemphasize her very buxom figure.
I wish the photo hadn’t been airbrushed, but it’s better than nothing.
EW caught up with Lawrence in Los Angeles, where she was training in archery (Katniss’s specialty), stunt work and track. She told the magazine that she first met director Gary Ross last year during the height of Oscar campaigning season (she was nominated for Winter’s Bone).
“He was asking me what the experience was like,” she recalls, “and I just kind of opened up and said, ‘I feel like a rag doll. I have hair and makeup people coming to my house every day and putting me in new, uncomfortable, weird dresses and expensive shoes, and I just shut down and raise my arms up for them to get the dress on, and pout my lips when they need to put the lipstick on.’ And we both started laughing because that’s exactly what it’s like for Katniss in the Capitol. She was a girl who’s all of a sudden being introduced to fame. I know what that feels like to have all this flurry around you and feel like, ‘Oh, no, I don’t belong here.'”
Ross asked her to come in and read for the part and said Lawrence blew him away.
“I don’t want to go into too many details,” he said, “but we did a scene from the movie and it was so amazingly powerful that it was sort of stunning. You glimpsed every aspect of the role and the potential of the whole movie.”
Lawrence told EW that the scene in The Hunger Games she’s most looking forward to doing is when Katniss goes into the cylinder and sees the arena for the first time, knowing that when the trumpet sounds to start the games, she could die. Katniss is not a killer; she’s a hunter who is in the games because she has no choice.
“These kids are only killing each other because if they don’t, they’ll die. It’s needless, pointless, unjustified violence. So there’s nothing cool about her. It’s not like she looks around the arena and goes ‘Yeah, I got this, I’m going to do this.’ I think she looks around terrified and thinks, ‘Well there are all the million different ways that I can die.'”
“I told Gary, ‘I totally understand if you don’t hire me, but please remember that after Katniss shoots a bow and kills someone her face cannot be badass. It has to be broken.’ She has to be heartbroken because she just took another person’s life.”
Out of the entire trilogy, Lawrence thinks a scene from the second book, Catching Fire, will be her favorite acting challenge — the one in which Katniss realizes she has to return to the games.
“When she finds out that she has to go back and she runs in and has a complete meltdown — I remember reading that and being like ‘I want to act that!'”
Lawrence knows that The Hunger Games role will change her life. The book has legions of fans and is often compared to the Twilight trilogy in terms of popularity. But after devouring the books, she became a devoted fan girl herself and couldn’t turn it down.
“I love this story,” she says, “and if I had said no, I would regret it every day.”
FilmStage scanned a few of the photos inside EW, if you’d like to get an advance look at Katniss’ outfit for the games. But you don’t have to wait long for the actual issue — it’s on stands today. And may the odds be ever in your favor.
Does the EW cover change your opinion about Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss? Does she look like the Katniss you envisioned?