Hunger Games Director Discusses the Casting of Jennifer Lawrence
03.18.11 by Ryan
With Jennifer Lawrence now confirmed in the role of District 12 tribute Katniss Everdeen in the upcoming adaptation of The Hunger Games, director Gary Ross is now discussing the casting which put Lawrence above over 30 young actresses, including fan favorite Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit). In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Ross called the casting "the easiest casting decision I ever made in my life."
First, I saw Winter's Bone, and I just thought she was phenomenally talented and just kind of riveting and amazing and had so much power. And then we had a meeting and I found her to be just a completely compelling, intelligent person. But then she came in and read for me and it just knocked me out. I don’t want to go into too many details, 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.
While Hunger Games author Suzanne Collins has already publicly lauded Lawrence as Katniss, Ross says Collins was very involved in the casting process and did not find Lawrence to be too old for the character.
First of all, I talked to Suzanne extensively about this. Suzanne saw every single audition. And not only did Suzanne not have an issue with Jen’s age, she felt you need someone of a certain maturity and power to be Katniss. This is a girl who needs to incite a revolution. We can’t have an insubstantial person play her, and we can’t have someone who’s too young to play this. Suzanne was incredibly adamant about this. Far from being too old, she was very concerned that we would cast someone who was too young. In Suzanne’s mind, and in mine, Katniss is not a young girl. It’s important for her to be a young woman. She’s a maternal figure in her family. She’s had to take care of Prim, and in many ways her mother, since her father’s death. She’s had to grow up pretty quickly.
Ross also says that Collins thought there was a "tremendous amount of flexibility" for casting Katniss, whom the author described as olive-skinned and dark-haired in the book, a sharp contrast with Lawrence. Ross promised that Lawrence "will have dark hair in the role" and revealed that the actress is already preparing for the part.
I think she feels such a complete connection to who Katniss is, the way many people do, but this just seems like a very good fit to her. I think she’s very confident about the role, I think it feels very organic to her. She’s ready to dive in. She goes to archery class next week. Yeah, she’s going to start shooting arrows next week! I think by the end of the week she’s going to be learning to climb trees. She’s a very strong, confident young woman.
Ross admitted that the next step was to cast the roles of Peeta and Gale, but did not reveal which actors are frontrunners for the roles. "We’ve read a lot of people for a lot of roles," said Ross.
Liam Hemsworth (The Last Song), Josh Hutcherson (The Kids Are All Right) and Alex Pettyer (I Am Number Four) have all publicly discussed their potential casting for the part of Peeta, with Weeds actor Hunter Parrish most recently entering the race. Check out our Hunger Games Cast-O-Rama to see fan picks and vote for your favorites.