Jennifer Lawrence rose to major prominence at just 20 years old when she was cast as the lead character, Katniss Everdeen, in the movie adaptation of Suzanne Collins’s 2008 book, The Hunger Games.
The first movie opened in 2012 to huge success, and Jen reprised the role in three subsequent films released in 2013, 2014, and 2015.
Now, more than a decade after she starred in the first movie, Jennifer is reflecting on the challenges that came with fronting such a beloved franchise.
Sitting down with Viola Davis for Variety’s Actors on Actors series, the now 32-year-old reflected on the pressures that came with scoring the coveted role.
“The Hunger Games was an awesome responsibility,” she began. “I mean, those books were huge, and I knew that the audience was children. And there were so many different opinions on what is this action figure for children going to look like.”
With such a focus on how Katniss would look onscreen, Jennifer recalled discussions about her body and whether it would be necessary for her to lose weight in order to play a character who had grown up fighting starvation.
“The biggest conversation, of course — this was pre-MeToo, and I’m a woman — so it was weight. And you know, ‘How much weight are you gonna lose?’ and ‘Well, it’s called The Hunger Games, you wouldn’t be…you know,’” she said, implying that her character needed to be smaller.
But despite facing pressure from executives to lose weight, Jennifer emphasized that dieting simply wasn’t something she was willing to do — if not for her sake, then for the benefit of her young fanbase.
“Along with me being young and growing and not able to be on a diet, because, you know, who wants to be on a diet? I was also like, 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,” she said. “And I can’t let that seep into my brain either.”