And, of course, director Gary Ross had a little something to say about his new leading lady: "I'm so excited to work with Jen and see her bring this character to life. Katniss requires a young actress with strength, depth, complexity, tenderness, and power. There are very few people alive who can bring that to a role. Jen brings it in spades."
At this point, there's really no excuse for being out of the loop, but just in case, here's a little 'Hunger Games' 101. The story takes place in the country of Panem, an area comprised of 12 rather poor districts and the wealthy Capitol. Katniss comes from District 12, the coal-mining district. Way back when, the districts rebelled against the Capitol, so, as punishment, each year the districts are forced to select two kids between the ages of 12 and 18 to participate in the Hunger Games, a televised battle to the death. This year is Katniss' unlucky year and she's forced to leave behind her mother, sister and best friend Gale to travel to the capitol to compete in the games alongside District 12's other "tribute," Peeta Mellark. Get it? Good.
Now on to you 'Hunger Games' die-hards, because clearly you've got a lot to say about this topic. Lawrence is Katniss, so what will that mean for the film and is she even right for the role? Not like there's any use in debating her aptitude at this point, but considering from here we'll be moving onto the casting of the other roles, why not? Clearly Lawrence is talented. She was nominated for an Oscar for her performance in 'Winter's Bone' and is involved in a number of upcoming releases including Jodie Foster's 'The Beaver' and 'X-Men: First Class.' That's great and all, but does it mean she's right for the role? Not really. MTV claims Lawrence was picked for her "meteoric ascent." Without turning this into a bash 'Twilight' article, I can think of quite the handful of actors who had a so-called "meteoric ascent" minus the talent.
But even beyond that, Lawrence just doesn't look right for the part. Katniss is 16 and Lawrence is 20. Sure, in Hollywood actresses play younger all the time, but the problem is, we know she's older. How much richer has the 'Harry Potter' experience been getting to watch those kids grow up with the film? Another issue this matter poses is how it'll affect the franchise. 'The Hunger Games' is just the first of three books and, odds are, Lionsgate has their eye on making movies of all three. Well, I hope they're planning to shoot one after another because should there be, let's say, two years between each film, Lawrence will be 26 playing an 18-year-old.
Now that the venting is over, let's face it: Lawrence is Katniss, so what's the outlook from here? Having opted for an older actress like Lawrence as opposed to someone younger like 'True Grit' star Hailee Steinfeld means upping the age of almost everyone in the cast. While Josh Hutcherson might have been a top choice for the role of Peeta, he and Lawrence are just not going to work. As much as I'm against Alex Pettyfer's casting, his look alone would be appropriate. Now, Hunter Parrish, another actor reported to be an option for the role, he packs the look and the talent. First off, he's good looking but not model good looking like Pettyfer; based on looks alone, he has more character. Even better? The guy's got ability. He's done some great work on 'Weeds' and has shown he's got range in some big screen supporting roles.
As for Gale, he doesn't come up much in the first film, but come the second and the third, his casting will be vital. Working with the Lawrence-Parrish model, my original pick, Logan Lerman, feels far too young. He's good, but he's got a bit of a baby face. Gale's a coal miner; well, he's on the road to becoming one. He needs to be hardened and have more defined features. This is going to come out of left field considering very few have seen the film, but 'Dog Pound' star Adam Butcher feels like a fantastic option. He's still quite unknown, has a heck of a lot of talent and is just the right age to work with Lawrence and Parrish. Don't believe me? Find a way to get your hands on the film. It isn't available on Netflix, but you can buy it on Amazon -- it's worth it.
We'll certainly be going through the same rumor laden casting process with these two roles, but, on the bright side, Lionsgate will likely fill those positions rather soon, so it shouldn't be drawn out as much. As always, we'll keep you posted on any updates.