It was announced a couple days ago that Winter's Bone star Jennifer Lawrence will play Katniss Everdeen* in the upcoming film adaptation of Suzanne Collins' YA trilogy The Hunger Games. Yesterday, director Gary Ross spoke to to Entertainment Weekly about his choice, responding to internet handwringing that Lawrence is (1) too old, and (2) too white.
There’s already quite a bit of hand-wringing that, no matter how good an actress Lawrence is, at 20 she’s simply too old for the role.
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.
In the books, Katniss is described as being olive-skinned, dark-haired, possibly biracial. Did you discuss with Suzanne the implications of casting a blond, caucasian girl?
Suzanne and I talked about that as well. There are certain things that are very clear in the book. Rue is African-American. Thresh is African-American. Suzanne had no issues with Jen playing the role. And she thought there was a tremendous amount of flexibility. It wasn’t doctrine to her. Jen will have dark hair in the role, but that’s something movies can easily achieve. [Laughs] I promise all the avid fans of The Hunger Games that we can easily deal with Jennifer’s hair color.
Lawrence is an incredibly promising young actor—she was tremendous is Winter's Bone—and I think the fact that they cast someone with proven chops bodes well for the rest of the movie. (And yes, Blogtown, you can expect a lot ofHunger Games-related nerdouts in the coming months. Read the books! You'll like them.)
*Film Editor Erik Henriksen insists I note that he "called it."