Hunger for Success

Mark Pilkington meets Jennifer Lawrence, star of „The Hunger Games“, the film series many are tipping to be bigger than Twilight...

If you are reading this article in a few months time, we can guarantee that the name Jennifer Lawrence will need no introduction. Star of The Hunger Games, the first film adaption of the trilogy of books by Suzanne Collins, Lawrence is a future star in the making. Having already impressed critics with her Oscar-nominated performance in Winters Bone, and wowed comic book fans worldwide with her interpretation of Mystique in X-Men: First Class, The Hunger Games is all set to make her a household name and the hottest property in Tinsel-Town. Hoping to emulate the phenomenal success of the books which have topped the bestsellers list since their release back in 2008, the film is directed by Gary Ross, and along- side Lawrence, stars Josh Hutcherson (Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant) and Liam Hemsworth (The Last Song) in the lead roles. If the Hollywood hype is to believed, we are looking at a box office hit more than capable of Twilight-emulating numbers.

The premises of The Hunger Games is but a simple one; set in the distant future, the world as we know it has been destroyed, and North America has been split into districts. Every year a boy and a girl are randomly selected from each district to participate in the aforementioned game, a televised fight to the death in which there can be only one winner. When her sister is selected to participate, Katniss (played by Lawrence) steps up to take her place and embark on an adventure from which she may never return... We met up with the 21 year-old recently in a London hotel, where we were pleasantly surprised by just how casual she was. A gifted actor but one with her feet firmly on the ground, she laughed away any suggestion that she was a celebrity and it was clear that fame has certainly not gone to her head. No starlet diva attitude here.

A self-confessed "Hunger Games" devotee herself, Lawrence explained how the opportunity to play the role of Katniss was one that was too good to turn down when, yet at the same time she was wary of Hollywood ruining the books that she holds so close to her heart. "I was a huge fan of the books - I was actually borderline obsessed with them," she admits. "When word got around they were making a movie, I was a little sceptical about the project, as movies always ruin books. But when I met the director, it was so clear that he knew what these movies needed to be and what the real story was. All of the producers were true fans of the books as well, and were dedicated to making a movie true to the book, so after finding that out I was keen to get involved. I knew that they were going to do an amazing job."

Having signed on the dotted line for the role, her only worry now was the pressures of fame. With such a huge fan-base already established by the books, if the film series follows suit, then her life would never be the same again. If the movie was as big as Harry Potter or Twilight and the next two film adaption's get commissioned, that is a large part of her life taken up by The Hunger Games... "I remember I was in a coffee shop, and I thought 'If I say yes today, then a year from now people will be taking picture of me sitting here drinking coffee.'," she tells us. "That thought wasn't great, but then when I thought I'd be missing out on playing a character I was so in love with in these books, and a story that I think is so important to be told to the world, it became an easy decision to make. I'm very proud to be involved in a project like this."

Prior to making The Hunger Games, she had just finished filming X-Men First Class, in which she met her current boyfriend, British actor Nicholas Hoult, who played The Beast. Both films had one thing in common - they both featured a very young cast, and in both productions she was surrounded by actors all the same age as her. She laughs as she describes both film shoots as being reminiscent of a holiday camp, albeit a very strange one. "They were like two summer camps, and really weird summer camps at that," she recalls with a smile. "X-Men was just bizarre summer camp where we were all being painted different colours, and The Hunger Games was a summer camp where we were all killing each other. It was great.

I mean, myself, Liam and Josh had a blast on this film. We all really like each other, which is lucky as we are going to be together for another couple of films hopefully!"

As with X-Men, playing Katniss is a very physical part, and she embarked upon a rigorous raining schedule in order to prepare for the role. Something which we imagine she must be getting used to it by now? "With X-Men the training was much more in the gym, using weights and exercise machines," she explains. "With The Hunger Games, it was archery, free-running, track running, stunts; it was just everything. By the time we started shooting, I was running non-stop. It was exhausting." We made a quick mental note to have Jennifer Lawrence by our side if we ever found ourselves in a fight.

Filmed mainly outdoors on location in the North Carolina woodlands, the shoot itself sounds like fun? We hazarded that being out there together with Mother Nature on their doorstep must have helped the crew all bond together much easier. She raises her eyebrows at this question. "It was gruesome! My biggest fear was spiders. I'm such a wimp when it came to that stuff. I would squeal and run up the nearest tree if I saw a spider," she confesses. " But you're right - you get so much more of a spirit of community and family when you are on location like that. It felt like we were in Vietnam together."

However, as hard as all that sounds, she tells us confronting her fear of spiders and surviving outdoors wasn't the worst part of filming The Hunger Games. To play the role of Katniss, the natural blonde was forced to dye her hair. "I hated it at first, it took some getting used to. I went through like a week of depression when I wasn't allowed to be blonde any more. I'm a natural blonde, so after a while my roots started to come in and it looked like I was bald! I then dyed it back to blonde and hated it, so went back to brunette again. I've got used to it now, although I will probably get bored and change it again soon. In fact, I can guarantee it!" We can only imagine the pain she must have gone through. Whoever said life as a Hollywood star was an easy one?

The Hunger Games/Die Tribute von Panem
Fantasy, USA 2012 - Directed by:
Gary Ross
Screenplay: Gary Ross, Suzanne Collins, Billy Ray based upon the novel by Suzanne Collins Cinematography: Tom Stern Film Editing: Stephen Mirrione, Juliette Welfling Original Music: T-Bone Burnett, James Newton Howard Production Design: Philip Messina
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Elizabeth Banks, Woody Harrelson, Lenny Kravitz, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland
Verleih Elmo Movieworld