Jennifer Lawrence Confirmed for The Hunger Games

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Last week, word began circulating that actress Jennifer Lawrence from Winter’s Bone was the “clear frontrunner” for the lead role of Katniss Everdeen in Gary Ross’ adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ best-selling young adult novel The Hunger Games, set for release by Lionsgate on March 23, 2012. Now, it’s been confirmed that the 20-year-old Academy Award-nominated actress has indeed signed on for the lead role, and we can expect more casting news to follow shortly.

The story takes place in a future where teens are chosen by lottery to compete in deadly fighting games and Lawrence’s role is that of a girl who volunteers to join one such contest in order to save her community. It’s a role that was thought to be one of the hottest gigs in town with many young actresses including fellow young Oscar nominees Hailee Steinfeld and Abigail Breslin competing for the role. The first movie directed by Ross will be followed by movies based on Collins’ other two novels, “Catching Fire” and “Mockingjay.”

Three names have already been mentioned for the male lead of Peeta Mellark, including Alex Pettyfer (I Am Number Four, Beastly), Josh Hutcherson (The Kids are All Right) and Hunter Parrish (“Weeds”).

Lawrence has already finished filming three other films since Winter’s Bone that should be released in the coming year including Jodie Foster’s The Beaver starring Mel Gibson, Matthew Vaughn’s X-Men: First Class playing the young Mystique, and a supporting role in Drake Doremus’ Like Crazy, which was bought by Paramount at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

Here is the official press release:

Lionsgate and the filmmakers of “The Hunger Games” are pleased to announce that Academy Award® nominated actress Jennifer Lawrence will assume the coveted role of Katniss Everdeen in the much anticipated film adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ “The Hunger Games.”

The film will be directed by Gary Ross, and produced by Nina Jacobson’s Color Force. Collins’ best-selling novel, which has over 3 million copies in print in the United States alone, is the first in a trilogy of science fiction/action novels which have developed a global following. Lionsgate will release “The Hunger Games” on March 23, 2012.

Newcomer Lawrence’s meteoric ascent began in earnest with her breakout role in last year’s “Winter’s Bone,” and culminated in an Academy Award nomination. This summer, Lawrence will star in Matthew Vaughn’s “X-Men: First Class” and in “The Beaver” directed by Jodie Foster. Later this year, she co-stars in the Sundance Grand Jury winner “Like Crazy.”

Author Suzanne Collins weighed in on the selection of Lawrence, “Jennifer’s just an incredible actress. So powerful, vulnerable, beautiful, unforgiving and brave. I never thought we’d find somebody this perfect for the role. And I can’t wait for everyone to see her play it.”

“I’m so excited work with Jen and see her bring this character to life. Katniss requires a young actress with strength, depth, complexity, tenderness, and power. There are very few people alive who can bring that to a role. Jen brings it in spades. She’s going to be an amazing Katniss,” said director Gary Ross.

“The Hunger Games” chronicles a dystopic Capitol which requires its twelve subjugated districts to pay tribute in the form of a teenage boy and girl, forced to participate in the annual “Hunger Games,” a fight-to-the-death live televised event. Katniss Everdeen’s little sister is chosen in the lottery to participate and Katniss volunteers to take her place. Although persevering through hardship is commonplace for Katniss, she must start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love in order to win the games and return home. “The Hunger Games” novel has been on the New York Times best seller list for over 100 consecutive weeks. Foreign rights for the book, published by Scholastic have been sold in 41 countries.