Jennifer Lawrence: A Very Cool Katniss!
Kidzworld is hangin’ with Hunger Games’ Jen Lawrence in Bev Hills and she’s just like us; nervous at times, very funny and, when she’s not all glammed up for the red carpet, full of kid-like enthusiasm about her career and life in general.
Jen is from Kentucky and is used to playing strong young women trying to save their families. She did that in her break-through film Winter’s Bone and she makes a super sacrifice for those she loves as Katniss Everdeen volunteering to “play” to the death in The Hunger Games.
We’re learning that Jen called wolves “woofs” until she was corrected a few days ago, her boots were the most important part of her Katniss wardrobe and she is still in shock when people treat her like a “star” (she got to ride a roller coaster all by herself at a theme park. They turned it on just for her!).
Picture the star all casual chic with her natural blonde/brown streaked hair, smoky eyes and in a dark navy blazer and jeans with a cute blue and white stripe shirt. She’s wobblin’ on some kickin’ high stiletto heels. She’s tall. Now she’s mega-tall!
First, what did Jennifer and those two cuties who are crushin’ on Katniss do on set when not shooting a scene? Play in a creek and go buy toys!
Kidzworld: What was it like getting to work with Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth and are you friends at this point?
- Jen: We are friends. We were all really relieved when we met and hung out in North Carolina because we were going to be with each other for years to come. We all legitimately like each other. I love those guys. They are great.
Kidzworld: What do you guys do when you hang out?
- Jen: At one point when we weren’t working we went down to a creek and tried to get Josh to catch a crawdad because Liam didn’t know what one was. Little did we know it was a crawfish and had we called it that he would have understood.
Then I saw one and I was like “Catch it, catch it, catch it.” And it was a leech and it stuck to Josh’s hand! We all screamed and Liam and I took off and Josh was stuck with a leech on his hand [we’re laughing at this point]. Then we went to Walmart and bought (toy) weapons like slingshots. Josh got a basketball. I think Liam got some weird helmet.
Kidzworld: That sounds like it was so fun! What other kinds of woods adventures did you have?
Jen: There was a lot of falling. There were a lot of bears and wolfs. Wolves. I’ve been told not to say wolfs. I’ve even added an “L” because it used to be just “woofs”. Lots of wild turkey out in the Cornucopia field. They loved the Cornucopia. So one of our Ads [assistant director’s] jobs was to run out across the Cornucopia and scare all the wild turkeys which was my favorite part of filming. His name was Ben and he would run after them as start doing this [she wildly waves her arms]. It was turkey scaring time.
Kidzworld: Hunger Games takes place in a pretty negative and scary future. Did you have a favorite scary future book or movie when you were younger?
- Jen: I had anxiety problems when I was a kid. My parents had to hide the newspaper from me because I would read the newspaper and be like “The world is ending!! The stock market is going to crash!!” And I was like 11.
It wasn’t until I saw that film 2012 with John Cusack that I started crying and believed every word of it. Now I’m like “The world can’t end. We still have Hunger Games 2. They haven’t even finished all the Star Treks. What are they thinking?
Kidzworld: Hilarious! You were in X-Men as Mystique and there’s fan community there but this film should be HUGE. How as playing Katniss changed your life already?
- Jen: My fan base has definitely changed. Now it is young girls and teens and now I am a role model for them. My language has to change a lot. I did indie films and one of them [Winter’s Bone] got lucky and I was in “X-Men” but that but that movie was already a franchise that I just joined on to in the end. This is like insane. It’s crazy.
Kidzworld: How are you doing with that “role model” thing? Is it scary?
- Jen: Of course. So far I’m handling it pretty well. I just smile a lot. It was definitely something I took into consideration before I did it because I knew that there would be a lot of changes that I would have to make as far as even taking my next roles because I knew there were going to be young people watching what I was doing and emulating that.
Kidzworld: Sneaky! What would you like to go back and tell your 13-year-old-self?
- Jen: Hang in because you’ll have a really blessed life! I was doing press in Mexico a couple of weeks ago at Six Flags and I got them to turn one of the roller coasters on and I got to go on it. It was not until that moment did I feel like I have finally made it.
Also, yesterday when we were driving by Sprinkles and the line was too long. We almost had my security guard go in and just buy me a Sprinkles cupcake. Those are the two moments when I am like “Oh my God!” Look at my life. Walking the carpet at the Oscars was incredible and unbelievable but it wasn’t until I was sitting in the Batman roller coaster at Six Flags or in a car about to get a free Sprinkles cupcake that I was like “I really have a blessed life.”
Kidzworld: You seem to be a strong young woman in real life but what about Katniss is not like you?
- Jen: I wish I was much more like her than I actually am. I think the hardest about playing her was in the books she doesn’t know how to get people to like her. That’s nothing she’s ever had to deal with before. She’s a hunter. She cares for her family and she’s not focused on cracking jokes and making people like her.
At the same time, you don’t want to watch somebody for two hours that you don’t like. I didn’t want to manipulate the audience into liking her but, at the same time, I have to get everybody to like her to watch her for two hours. It’s just hard to find that balance.
The Hunger Games
Courtesy of Lionsgate
Kidzworld: Why did you really want to play Katniss? I understand you were a fan of the books.
- Jen: I think they carry a powerful message for this generation; an important story and one that I’m proud to back. I love these books. They really got to me. I heard about the movies and I thought “I hope they don’t ruin another good book series with movies”.
Then I met everybody who’s behind it and they are all legitimate fans. We all knew that we loved these books. We loved what Suzanne [Collins, the author] had to say. None of us were going to make a watered-downed version of that.
Kidzworld: Did you keep any of the wardrobe? That jacket in the Games was cute.
- Jen: I wanted to burn that at the end of the shoot. I wanted to keep the arena clothes because I had this vision of when the movie came out I would go hiking wearing it. So I would pass people coming down the mountain and they would be like “Didn’t I just see… ...what the?”
The wardrobe is perfect. I had a lot of say in the boots. I knew I was going to be doing stunts in them and in them for hours and hours for months. So there was a lot of rearranging and changing the boots to make sure they were comfortable and functional.
The Hunger Games
Courtesy of Lionsgate
Kidzworld: Have you kept up with the archery and physical training?
- Jen: I did love archery. I did want to throw the jacket away. I enjoyed not having to run eight miles a day and things like that. But it’s nice being in shape. As soon as I’m not working I’m like [she holds her hands out and puffs out her cheeks to indicate porking out]. When you are in a series called Hunger Games, when you are not working, you eat.
Kidzworld: Makes sense. You climb a lot of trees in the movie. How did you do that so easily?
- Jen: I practiced climbing on a rock climbing wall with numbered knots sticking out on it. We basically choreographed it. I practiced that over and over and over again until I could do it with my eyes closed. And then they transferred the knots from the wall to the tree and blended them in very well with the tree so it was the same choreography for me. You just couldn’t see it.
Kidzworld: Besides learning the archery, were all those stunts and running just really hard?
- Jen: Yeah. When I was doing that, I was not thinking about my face for the months of training. Then all of a sudden we got there and [the director] Gary Ross says, “Come here. Come watch this.” He showed me the playback and my face was [she scrunches up her nose and sticks out her teeth]. I looked like a rabbit. My arms looked weird. I just looked bizarre.
So, I have a running face with tight lips scrunching up to show my buck teeth. It is some kind of weird rabbit thing. It was hard to think about your face while you’re doing the stunts. I could either do the stunt and look like a rabbit or I can cheat on the stunt and not look like a rabbit.
Kidzworld: One of the messages in this film is that being glued to reality television might not be so good. Do you watch reality TV?
- Jen: This film is a huge message against reality television and I am exactly in that generation that is obsessed with it. I am just as bad as everybody else. I love reality TV. I love “Doomsday Preppers.” I think it’s on NATGEO. It’s about people who base their entire lives around preparing for the Apocalypse. It is absolutely fascinating.
Kidzworld: What message to do hope audiences to take away from The Hunger Games?
- Jen: I think it’s important to see what happens to society when we lose touch with our humanity and when we lose our empathy for others. We have this generation that is obsessed with reality television and we watch people’s lives fall apart while we eat popcorn and the ratings get higher and higher while their lives get worse. I think the message is don’t lose touch with your humanity.
By: Lynn Barker