"Hunger Games" Jennifer Lawrence: Katniss And I Are Soul Mates

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Jennifer Lawrence The Hunger Games
The 21-year-old on being a tomboy, her chemistry with her co-stars & how she'll handle all the fame.

Gorgeous Jennifer Lawrence is a bit of a tomboy.

"I'm from Kentucky and grew up in the woods, but Josh Hutcherson is also from Kentucky. I called Josh the real redneck. He's a bigger hick than me," says the star of The Hunger Games with a warm laugh. "Hunger Games" Josh Hutcherson On Sacrificing It All For Love

It's 9 a.m. at the Four Seasons Hotel and one of the biggest stars of the year arrives with no publicist and no entourage. J Law cleans up well – she wears a black Theory blazer, a Tory Birch striped shirt and the tightest blue jeans around. She hovers over a friend in the hallway who gets a warm hug. Another thing about Lawrence: she's the same old Jen she was before the Oscar nomination and the role of a lifetime. 

Lawrence, 21, left Kentucky, but there is still a lot of that girl in her. She even says her toughness on-screen is a throwback to her childhood. "I drew on it," she admits. "Even the other day, I said to a friend here in Los Angeles, 'You mean, you didn't grow up with any woods? Where did you fall out of trees and build a fort?'"

Those skills served her well as Katniss Everdeen, one of 23 tributes fighting for her life in the much-awaited film of the year, in theaters today.
 
What was your goal in turning The Hunger Games into a film?
I didn't want to screw up a great book. But everyone involved was a fan of the books. We vowed not to make a watered down version of a great story.

Were you competitive when it came to getting this role?
Hell, yes! I was competitive about it. I knew that Gary (director Gary Ross) was talking with other young women. For me, it has nothing to do with being a better actor. I'm not better than those other girls. This role was just me. It was a little bit like Katniss and I were soul mates.

Is Katniss you and vice versa?
It's a risky thing when you pick roles that remind you of you. I never play roles based just on me because I'm a boring person. I'd never want to see me in a movie. With Katniss, it was just a sense of understanding. I knew I could read the lines and say them without forcing anything. I could speak as this character. There are a lot of scripts where I simply can't find those words. There are no way those words can come out of my mouth and feel natural. Katniss is a girl I can understand.

What did you discover about Katniss?
Katniss is stronger than she knows. She starts out in the film thinking she's a bit cold, but she's actually a lot nicer and warmer than she thinks, too. She thinks of herself as a hunter and never focused on trying to get people to like her. Before having to go off to "The Hunger Games," she's just surviving. Her father is gone, her mother has a breakdown and Katniss is just trying to feed her family. Eventually, she's put in a position of saving her people and her family. She becomes a symbol of revolt and goes for it. She realizes she's a symbol and fights like a futuristic Joan of Arc.

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