As Jennifer Lawrence wanders into a Beverly Hills hotel suite, she’s intercepted by an assistant who – as a preliminary test – asks her what she’s wearing.
The 21-year-old politely recites her list: navy-blue jacket by Theory, powder-blue blouse by Tory Burch.
“And other than that, I have no idea,” says Lawrence, smiling as she takes her seat for her first promotional interview of the day.
Not bad for a native of Louisville, Kentucky, who is doing her best to keep perspective while, all around her, fans of The Hunger Games are losing theirs.
Lawrence, who shot to fame with her best-actress nomination in 2011 for Winter’s Bone, is about to enter The Hunger Games’ star stratosphere.
Opening to a great deal of anticipation on March 23, the Gary Ross-directed film stars Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen, the teen heroine of Suzanne Collins’ incredibly popular young-adult sci-fi novel.
In that post-apocalyptic world, Lawrence’s Katniss volunteers to replace her younger sister in a fight-to-the-death competition broadcast live on TV.
Josh Hutcherson co-stars as Peeta Mellark, a baker in love with Katniss, and selected to battle in the games against Katniss and other teens. Liam Hemsworth plays Katniss’s friend, Gale Hawthorne, who fails to persuade her to run away with him before the death match.
The cast also includes Donald Sutherland (President Snow), Elizabeth Banks (Effie Trinket), Stanley Tucci (Caesar Flickerman), Wes Bentley (Seneca Crane), Lenny Kravitz (Cinna) and Woody Harrelson (Haymitch Abernathy).
All have praise for Lawrence, although Hemsworth and Hutcherson are especially impressed.
“She’s just a very honest, present actor, and it’s very easy to work opposite her,” says Hemsworth. “You listen to her, and look at her, and she’s always doing the right thing.”
Hutcherson agrees: “It’s weird how easy it sounds, to make people believe what you’re thinking or what you’re saying is real, but it’s not easy. Jennifer is so effortless at it, she makes it easier for you to attempt to be near her level.”
Certainly, Lawrence as Katniss is the driving force in The Hunger Games, and she will be again in the movies based on Collins’ other books in the series, Catching Fire and Mockingjay.
The actress has come a long way since making her showbiz debut in a promo for MTV. Guest spots on Monk, Cold Case and Medium followed. So did film roles in The Poker House and The Burning Plain, which earned Lawrence a best-young-performer award at the 2008 Venice Film Festival.
Her role in 2010’s Winter’s Bone as the determined Ozarks teen led to acclaim and the Oscar nomination. Her part as Mystique in last year’s X-Men: First Class elevated her status among teens.
But that will pale in comparison to the adoration she’ll get for her Katniss character, which will define her career, whether she wants it to or not.
The easygoing actress discussed that likelihood, and other things Hunger Games, during a chat with Postmedia News.
Q: Are you satisfied the movie contains the novel’s pointed social and political views?
A: Yes, I am. It was really important to us that we weren’t doing a popcorn version of the story.
Q: Is it like an anti-blockbuster?
A: It really was shot like an independent movie. Gary (Ross) gave it lots of time to develop, and gave us moments to work on our characters, (which is) sometimes considered a waste of time in these kinds of films.
Q: Is your portrayal of Katniss different from the character in the novel?
A: That should be left to somebody else’s opinion. My portrayal was my interpretation of my understanding of her.
Q: Are you like Katniss?
A: It’s risky to pick roles like that. I never play characters who are like me, because I’m a boring person, and I wouldn’t want to see me in a movie.
Q: Do you relate to her?
A: I like that she wants to save her family, and becomes this symbol for revolt, freedom and hope, and she goes for it.Q: How do you want young female audiences to connect with Katniss?
A: I want them to understand she’s loyal. She fights for what’s right. And she’s not quiet when something’s wrong.
Q: You and Josh Hutcherson, who plays your love interest, Peeta, seemed to have real chemistry.
A: (Smiles) The problem is our off-screen chemistry is more like brother and sister; like an annoying brother and sister.
Q: Did you attempt most of your Hunger Games stunts?
A: I did as many stunts as I could. The studio wasn’t too big on having its lead actress doing insane stunts at the beginning of a franchise. So I had a wonderful stunt girl to fall out of trees for me, and roll down mountains.
Q: But you had to get in shape, right?
A: I’m always doing something, because I like food and don’t like dieting.
Q: What with your Winter’s Bone Oscar nod, and now The Hunger Games, have the last few years been a blur?
A: In some ways, it feels like I started out yesterday.
Q: Are you taking all your success in stride?
A: I hope so. When you get a job promotion, you don’t go, “That was too fast.” Nobody wants to stay in the mail room. But I am grateful for it.
Q: You won the Katniss role over such high-profile actresses as Abigail Breslin and Emma Roberts. Is that an ego boost?
A: There’s no sense feeling competitive. I am not a better actor than any of the girls who auditioned. It just happened for me.
Q: Are you prepared for The Hunger Games spotlight?
A: I think I’m as ready as I can be, which is not that ready. I’m kind of clueless about it all.
Source: The Province