What Jennifer Lawrence Playing Katniss Everdeen for ‘The Hunger Games’ Means

The speculation of the past week has panned out according to The Wrap. Jennifer Lawrence will follow up her Oscar-nominated role as an impoverished Ozarks-dweller in Winter’s Bone by playing an impoverished District 12-dweller who must fight for her life against a bunch of other children in The Hunger Games.

There’s no doubt that she’s a strong acting talent, and now she’s secured a role that could be equally (if not differently) challenging.

However, there are at least three ways in which this casting will effect the overall movie.

  1. It won’t exactly be children killing each other anymore.
  2. They’ll have to cast a similarly aged leading man.
  3. Katniss will be played by someone old enough to rent a car without insanely high insurance premiums by the end of the trilogy.

As for the first part, much of the appeal of the project was to see the Battle Royale-style fight to the death between 12-18 year olds. It makes sense that that might not be the appeal for, say, my mother or anyone else with any decency, but it made the project stand out in an interesting way. After all, the books rose to prominence with children killing each other – why can’t the movie stick with it?

Having a 20-year-old actress play the lead means we’ll be looking at someone on the cusp of drinking legally killing other actors and actresses who are aged down. Although, 12 is a difficult age to fake, so it’ll be interesting to see how the production deals with that.

As for the second point, the main male character in the first movie, Peeta, will need to be played by an older actor as well. Even with Lawrence playing a 16-year-old girl, there’s little chance they would cast a 16-year-old actor to play opposite her (not that they’ve even been looking at actors that young).

To the third point, it’s simple logic. Even if they rush out these movies in three years, Lawrence will still be looking at her 24th birthday for filming Mockingjay (the third installment). It’s more likely that she’ll be 25 or 26 – playing a 17-year-old political target.

Of course that sort of casting is done all the time, and there’s no way to know whether it will work out well here or be distracting, but Lawrence’s being cast has certainly put a stamp on the direction the production is heading.

Lawrence will be seen next in The Beaver and X-Men: First Class.

What do you think?

A veteran of writing about movies for nearly a decade, Scott Beggs has been the Managing Editor of Film School Rejects since 2009. Despite speculation, he is not actually Walter Mathau's grandson. See? He can't even spell his name right.

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