Jennifer Lawrence has enjoyed a mega rise to fame, gaining the world's attention for her Oscar-nominated role in Winter's Bone. She's also starred in X-Men: First Class, The Beaver and Like Crazy. And now the actress takes on her biggest challenge to date, bringing the much-loved literary character Katniss from Suzanne Collins' trilogy to life in the first film adaptation in the franchise, The Hunger Games. She chats exclusively to InStyle all about the movies, what she thinks of Twilight, plus reveals all about being star-struck!
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Tell us a little about your character Katniss in The Hunger Games…
She’s a young girl who goes into The Hunger Games. It’s set in a futuristic world where children aged between 12 and 18 are randomly selected from their home districts to fight to the death in a televised show, called The Hunger Games. When we meet Katniss she is just a hunter, taking care of her family and she is perfectly happy in her life. Times are hard and she is not wealthy by any means, but once she enters The Hunger Games she has to become a warrior, a warrior turned into someone like Joan of Arc, this symbol of freedom.
Do you share any of Katniss’ characteristics?
No, I’m not rebellious at all. I was the opposite. I have huge anxiety about getting in trouble and I always have had. I never stepped out of line when I was living at home. I never drank alcohol. I was terrified of getting in trouble. But I normally play characters that are not necessarily like that.
How did you get involved in the franchise?
Well, when I heard about the movie I was sceptical, because so many great books get turned into movies, but then after I met the filmmakers I knew these movies were going to be very, very powerful. I was actually here, I was in a coffee shop here in London when I got offered the role and I thought that if I said “Yes”, a year from now I won’t be able to do anything without people taking pictures of me on their phones. So that was terrifying but I talked it through with my mum and here I am now.
Were the auditions terrifying?
No. I have never been disappointed about not getting anything. Early on in my career I was auditioning in New York and LA for what was out there and decided that whatever is meant to be is going to happen. When I auditioned for Twilight I had no idea what they were and when the movies came out I was like, “Wow!”
This must be the most action-packed film you’ve ever done?
Oh yeah, and the action was an absolute blast. Definitely it was the most physical movie I have ever done. I had to learn archery, free running and stunts, rock climbing, harness work, combat.
Did you get any injuries?
Josh [Helmsworth] can tell you about his injury. I actually gave him a concussion. I cried and he had to console me! We both did stunt training for the movie and we were pretending to do Muay Thai, but I took it a little too far. It was a perfect death-kick, a kind of roundhouse, straight to the temple. I meant to stop right before the temple but he moved his head – it was his fault, really (laughs) – and my foot connected right on his temple. I could not stop crying. He said: “I’m fine, I’m fine.” But I cried for like three hours.
Did you keep up any of your newfound skills afterwards?
I wanted to keep up my training because during the shoot it was obvious that I was in the best shape I had ever been in and without really knowing it. I was, “Golly, I wish I could do this all day” because I hate gyms and I hate working out and this was such a fun way to really do your exercise. The stuntman said, “You can come training with us any time” but I looked at what they did and I thought, “No, I can’t!”
Some people mention The Hunger Games in the same breath as Twilight - does that bother you?
Of course not, but the movies are completely different. They are totally in other worlds. But the franchise is of course comparable. They are beloved books, adapted into movies and it’s a young cast and a female lead. It totally makes sense and it doesn’t even bother me. With regard to Twilight, I don’t think that they are terrible movies. I have read the books. I like the books. It doesn’t worry me because when the movie comes out the comparisons will definitely go away. One is not better than the other. They are not comparable.
Were you at all intimidated by the intense fan scrutiny?
No I wasn’t intimidated. Getting nervous about the anticipation is like Googling yourself. You can’t go there and think about it. It will only do bad things. I just knew I would give absolutely everything I had and try my hardest.
Now that you are a star yourself do you ever get starstruck?
Yeah, because I don’t think of myself as a star. I get ridiculously starstruck. There’s a commercial in the US for an amusement park with an old man that dances. I thought I saw him and I almost had a heart attack! But as I say, it’s not like you feel like a star. It’s a job and I don’t forget that. When you’re on set, it’s not a glamorous job. You are working insane hours, eating crap food. And during the Oscar season it was weird. Just weird. I was blown away by the fact that it [getting nominated for Winter’s Bone] had even happened to me. It still has not settled in. The dresses and the red carpets and the shoes and the make-up, all that is very strange, because that’s not really what I’m like.
Were you starstruck at all on The Hunger Games set?
Donald Sutherland, definitely. Lenny Kravitz is one of my best friend’s dad, so by the time we were on set we had already known each other, otherwise I would definitely have been starstruck by him. I kept getting in trouble, because I was used to calling him Mr. Kravitz, because he is my friend’s dad. But on the film he was like, “You have to call me Lenny, this is embarrassing.” So I finally started calling him Lenny. I love his music. I have already pre-ordered his latest album Black and White America.
What other music are you are into?
I love Mumford & Sons, The Kinks, Black Keys, Jack White, The White Stripes.
The Hunger Games hits UK screens on 23 March and it's a must-see!