You’ll notice that we’ve decided to spare you our take on every beat in the protracted media drumroll leading up to this week’s news that Jennifer Lawrence has scored the lead role in Gary Ross‘ adaptation of Suzanne Collins‘ phenomenally successful Hunger Games saga. You’re welcome.
Trust us, this was no oversight but rather our gift to you, dear readers, considering the gallons of newsless virtual ink spilled on will-they-or-won’t-they speculation about the inevitable decision to turn the keys to Katniss over to Lawrence, who has been “close to signing” and “all but locked” for weeks. Why? Because she’s clearly made for the role, which is sure to vault her into the stratosphere of cine-lit ingenues alongside the likes of Kristen Stewart (“Twilight” saga), Emma Watson (Harry Potter franchise), Rooney Mara (“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo“), and Mia Wasikowska (“Jane Eyre“). Lawrence was up against a strong field of contenders led by Hailee Steinfeld of “True Grit,” Saoirse Ronan of “The Lovely Bones,” and “Kick Ass’” Chloe Moretz. But Lawrence prevailed, presumably because she encompasses all the disparate demands of playing Katniss Everdeen, a sixteen-year-old girl competing in a post-apocalyptic reality TV showdown in which teenagers from around the country fight to be the sole survivor in a gruesome death match. The role requires a young actress capable of playing a character capable of being physically tough, mentally wily, emotionally strung out as she traverses a gauntlet of death and destruction. Lawrence, who was nominated for an Oscar for her spellbindingly stoic performance as a tough-minded Appalachian teen in the Ozarks in “Winter’s Bone,” has proven she has the mettle to endure the physical and emotional challenges required to play Katniss. Oh, and the fact that she looks like a contemporary Grace Kelly doesn’t hurt.
Now that the long-gestating, closely monitored adaptation has hit high gear, the next order of business is to find an actor with the chops to play Peeta, Katniss’ partner (and ambiguous love interest) in surviving the Games. Josh Hutcherson from “The Kids Are All Right,” Hunter Parrish of “Weeds,” and “I am Number Four’s” Alex Pettyfer are among the names mentioned to be in contention for the role. None of them seem to hit the bullseye the way Lawrence does for Katniss.
We’d like to see someone a little, well, deeper playing Peeta. Someone along the lines of the young Shia LaBeouf or Leonardo DiCaprio, circa “This Boy’s Life.” No one besides Andrew Garfield really fits that mold and he’s got his hands full with Spider-Man. Craig Roberts from “Submarine” might be a step in the right direction. Beyond, that we’re holding out hope for a dazzling new discovery. Now it’s your turn to nominate your ideal Peeta. Let the games begin!