The film adaptation of the first book in Suzanne Collins's popular Hunger Games series—a trilogy that could reach Twilight-levels of fandom once the movies are released—officially cast its lead role yesterday. Jennifer Lawrence, the 20-year-old Oscar-nominee for Winter's Bone will play Katniss Everdeen, the strong-willed 16-year-old who, in a post-apocalyptic world, must battle other teenagers to the death on a sordid form of government-controlled reality TV.
Lawrence beat out fellow young Oscar-nominee Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit) for the role, as well as most of Hollywood's brightest young starlets. But despite the actress's proven ability to convey the steel-faced grittiness of Katniss (just look at her performance in Winter's Bone), diehard fans of the book series were vocal expressing their concerns about her casting. In a rare move, the film's director, Gary Ross, addressed those arguments directly—even relaying details of his conversations with the book's author during the casting process—in an interview with Entertainment Weekly.
On Lawrence being too old for the role:
... not only did [Hunger Games writer] Suzanne not have an issue with Jen's age, she felt you need someone of a certain maturity and power to be Katniss. This is a girl who needs to incite a revolution. We can't have an insubstantial person play her, and we can't have someone who's too young to play this. Suzanne was incredibly adamant about this. Far from being too old, she was very concerned that we would cast someone who was too young.
On Lawrence's blonde hair and alabaster skin not fitting Katniss's character description as an olive-skinned, possibly biracial brunette:
Suzanne had no issues with Jen playing the role. And she thought there was a tremendous amount of flexibility ... Jen will have dark hair in the role, but that's something movies can easily achieve ... I promise all the avid fans of The Hunger Games that we can easily deal with Jennifer's hair color.
On whether he'll pay attention to fan reactions to the casting:
I think a lot of the debate that has gone on about who Katniss is is fantastic, because people feel very passionately that their take on the character is unique and correct. But the one that I've honestly listened to the most has been Suzanne, who conjured this girl out of her own imagination. To Suzanne, Jen is the perfect realization of the character who is in her head.
Read the full story at Entertainment Weekly.