In a new interview, Jennifer Lawrence has opened up about her breakout role on The Hunger Games, including how literally producers took the franchise’s title when it came to her own body weight.
In a conversation with Viola Davis for Variety’s “Actors on Actors” series, Lawrence says she felt a huge responsibility around playing the role of Katniss Everdeen due to the books the films were based on already having a huge audience of young fans. “In Hunger Games, it was an awesome responsibility,” Lawrence tells Davis. “Those books were huge, and I knew that the audience was children.”
She continues, “I remember the biggest conversation, of course — this was pre-#MeToo and I’m a woman — was weight and ‘How much weight are you going to lose? Well, it’s called The Hunger Games.’”
Lawrence says she had to work hard to not let these comments impact her mental health, adding that she knew at the time that it was important not to let the young viewers think they had to look a certain way to relate to Katniss. “Along with me being young and growing and not able to be on a diet…I don’t know if I want all of the girls who are going to dress up as Katniss to feel like they can’t because they’re not a certain weight. And I can’t let that seep into my brain either.”
At the time, it was especially rare in films for an action movie to be led by a woman, such as Katniss in The Hunger Games. Years later, Davis got a similar opportunity with her role in The Woman King. Speaking of how important this representation is for women and girls, Lawrence says, “I remember when I was doing Hunger Games, nobody had ever put a woman in the lead of an action movie because it wouldn’t work — because we were told girls and boys can both identify with a male lead, but boys cannot identify with a female lead.”
“And it just makes me so happy every single time I see a movie come out that just blows through every one of those beliefs and proves that it is just a lie to keep certain people out of the movies,” she adds. “To keep certain people in the same positions that they’ve always been in.”
Watch the full conversation below.