Jennifer Lawrence is Katniss. After seeing The Hunger Games twice now, there could not have been a better actress chosen to portray Suzanne Collins’ heroine. When the blockbuster book truly took off, fans had their own vision of what Katniss Everdeen would be in flesh and blood. When the film’s star sat down with Movie Fanatic to reflect on the phenomenon that she has entered, Lawrence stressed how she always saw the story as purely traditional.
“I saw this as a drama. I never saw this as a thriller or as an action movie or anything. It's not until now that it feels like, ‘Wow, this is huge!’” Lawrence said.
How on earth did the Oscar nominee for Winter’s Bone score the role of this young century? “I read the books on my own and I loved them,” she said. “I found out they were being made into a movie and then I had a meeting with Gary Ross.”
Even with the Oscar nod, she still had to have help scoring the fateful meeting. "My agents did the brunt of the work,” she said and laughed. "I wasn't like knocking on his door. I just got an e-mail that said, 'You are going to meet Gary Ross here tomorrow.'"
Lawrence didn’t take her moment with director Ross as a given she had the role of a lifetime. “I knew that I had a really great meeting with him and we really hit it off, but that happens a lot and then you never hear from the people again,” the actress added.
“Then I went into the audition and he was a lot nicer and everybody was kind of being more nice. But, I am so insecure that when people complement me, I am like, ‘You are just putting me down or you're just being nice because then you're going to never call.’ So I walked away thinking, ‘That was really nice that they would complement me so much before they greatly disappoint me.’ I just kept thinking they were softening the blow of not hiring me.”
The rest is history. She was off to North Carolina to film the first flick. Handling the fact that the “where does my journey go” part of crafting a character is missing because of the already established books, Lawrence admits it is not what it seems. “That is always the funny thing because we don't know where we are going. We don't know what's going to happen or what we are going to grow into becoming. So it was important to kind of leave that out of my mind, but at the same time, we are shaping a warrior,” Lawrence said. “So she had to be scared. She's a sixteen-year-old girl fighting for her life. She had to be vulnerable because I never wanted anybody to feel, at any point during the Games, that she couldn't die. I don't feel like she felt like that for one minute, that she wouldn't die. But at the same time, that kind of strength of a budding warrior, Joan of Arc, had to be there.”
Yet, that came at a cost. Lawrence was hospitalized during the shoot.
“This is one of those things that you just can't tell stories like this. I'm learning. No, it had to do with wall runs during free running, which is where you run at a wall as hard as you possibly can so that you can build up traction. That doesn't work! I was doing them and then I got to maybe number six or something pathetic. Then I ran and jumped... and then my feet were just like 'eh.' They just stayed down! Then I just went 'Boom!' I hit my stomach as hard as I possibly could to the point that all the stunt guys were like 'Whoa! I haven't seen somebody hit the wall like that in years!' So I am rolling on the ground trying to be cool because there are all of the stunt guys around, so I couldn't burst into tears! That is what I wanted to do. Then my trainer, the next day, had me do crunches and I had to admit 'I can't. I ran into a wall really hard yesterday.' And he is a hypochondriac and made me go to the hospital and get an MRI and an IV with the hot stuff -- it was awful! Then it turns out everything was fine. I think it was bruised but not hospital-worthy.”
Of all the talents she needed to require, one proved elusive. “Archery… it's all a mind game and it's all technique. When you get it wrong the bow whips the inside of your arm. Then you throw your bow away in disgust,” Lawrence said. “Then you have to do it again! But once you get it, when you get the technique and you can actually see something and be like, ‘I want to hit that,’ then you hit it, then it's great.”
The ability clearly struck with her. “I still have arrows in my car," Lawrence admitted. "It's weird, because I didn't realize that until two of my friends were getting into the backseat of my car and they were like, ‘Why do you have arrows back here?’"
This is the beginning of The Hunger Games journey for Lawrence and she is eager for every second. “I'm looking forward to seeing her become a leader,” she said. “I'm looking forward to her becoming a warrior and then having it turn into a war movie.”
This was part one of our interview with Lawrence, stay with Movie Fanatic as we roll out the final part of our chat March 19.