Jennifer Lawrence on The Hunger Games

The indie darling talks her first big starring role in a studio franchise, child-on-child violence and singing for the camera.

Fred Topelby Fred Topel


Jennifer Lawrence was the indie darling for her role in Winter’s Bone, but the indie folks won’t get to keep her anymore. Starring as Katniss in The Hunger Games, Jennifer Lawrence belongs to the world now. (She was also Mystique in X-Men: First Class, but there’s no hiding under blue paint this time.) Based on Suzanne Collins’ books, the first movie tells of a future where children are pitted against each other in mortal combat for the entertainment of the masses. There can be only one survivor, so there’s a lot of dead kids in this PG-13 movie. At a roundtable for the film’s press junket, we got to ask Lawrence several questions about taking on the franchise.


Crave Online: How different was playing a story that was laid out in a book from playing a comic book character in a new story about her?

Jennifer Lawrence: There was a lot more pressure because with 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 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.


Was ‘action hero and major franchise’ a goal when you embarked on your acting career?

No. 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 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 the 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 books have been around for so long. It's a cool thing to be a part of.


Did being the face of The Hunger Games give you any pause and did you talk to any fellow actors who’ve led this kind of franchise?

No. 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 really just something that I had to work out 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.


Were you concerned about how the book’s violence was going to be filmed?

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 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's books. So, we understood that it was PG-13 so 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 and everything which I think made it a lot more realistic. All the violence is there, but it's just over quickly.


Were you involved with creating the music for Rue’s Lullaby? I imagine the lyrics were in the book.

No, I wasn't. I'm not musical at all.


Was it monumental to sing that?

Yeah, but mostly terrifying. 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 sorry.” They were like, “If you can just get through the song once we'll auto-tune you. Don't worry about it.”