Shortly after Jennifer Lawrence was officially announced as the star of The Hunger Games fans across the internet went berserk. Some were thrilled to see the film’s producers chose such a talented actress to take on the harrowing role of the tough as nails but tender-hearted heroine of the popular YA series. (Myself included.) Others began the hate parade, decrying Lawrence for being too old, too blond, too curvaceous and too white.
Thankfully Entertainment Weekly has spoken with the film’s director about this casting controversy, and Gary Ross had some illuminating news for fans: Lawrence was approved by the book’s writer, Suzanne Collins:
“First of all, I talked to Suzanne extensively about this. Suzanne saw every single audition. And not only did 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. In Suzanne’s mind, and in mine, Katniss is not a young girl. It’s important for her to be a young woman. She’s a maternal figure in her family. She’s had to take care of Prim, and in many ways her mother, since her father’s death. She’s had to grow up pretty quickly.”
As far as accusations of whitewashing, Ross said:
“Suzanne and I talked about that as well. There are certain things that are very clear in the book. Rue is African-American. Thresh is African-American. Suzanne had no issues with Jen playing the role. And she thought there was a tremendous amount of flexibility. It wasn’t doctrine to her. Jen will have dark hair in the role, but that’s something movies can easily achieve. [Laughs] I promise all the avid fans of The Hunger Games that we can easily deal with Jennifer’s hair color.”
He went on to state:
“I absolutely cast the right person for the role and in my view there wasn’t even a question who the best Katniss was. It was the easiest casting decision I ever made in my life… 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.”
How can fans argue with that?
Now that Katniss is in place, the rest of the cast will be built around Lawrence, who will begin training in archery next week, with tree-climbing classes to follow.
Do Ross’ comments alter your thoughts on Katniss’ casting?
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