The Hunger Games: Jennifer Lawrence hits the box office bullseye

A hunger for survival: How kick-ass Jen hit the box office bullseye



00:04 GMT, 16 March 2012

Hot property: Actress Jennifer Lawrence

Hot property: Actress Jennifer Lawrence

Jennifer Lawrence is so not Hollywood – but she has just become its future, thanks to new movie The Hunger Games.

She plays the best kick-ass heroine to grace the big screen since Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley smacked around that Alien, three decades ago.

‘She’s a hunter, and she’s the first hero we have who doesn’t think at any point she isn’t going to die. She’s completely vulnerable,’ Jennifer said of Katniss Everdeen, the 16-year-old she plays in the film.

It opens here next Friday with what is likely to be the biggest box office take of the year so far.

the U.S., there’s talk of $130million worth of tickets in the first
weekend. It’s supposedly meant for youngsters aged 12 and up, but it’s
also a cracking watch for adults.

who is lethal with a longbow, is the central character of a trilogy of
novels by Suzanne Collins set in a dystopian landscape where the U.S.
has been divided into a dozen fenced-off districts.

is in the hands of a favoured few, living in what’s known as the
Capitol, who have devised an annual blood-fest where two teens – called
tributes – from each district fight to the death on live TV.

makes you care about Katniss is that she has a moral centre – and (most
importantly!) she’s played by Lawrence, who was Oscar-nominated last
year for the independent movie Winter’s Bone.

She’s a proper actress with the talent to convey a heart-felt emotion when she needs to.

doesn’t really care about boys or friends,’ is how the 21-year-old
described Katniss to me. ‘She’s all about surviving and taking care of
her family.

‘She’s a fighter, but she’s a lot softer and more likeable than she thinks she is.’

We were chatting after she and her
cast-mates Elizabeth Banks, Liam Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson (so good
in The Kids Are Alright) were introduced to several packed auditoriums
for the European premiere at the 02 centre this week.

was wearing a shimmering bronze Ralph Lauren gown, but away from the
crowds, she had her agent’s jacket draped around her shoulders.

Her hair – brunette and braided for her role as Katniss – is back to its natural blonde.

one point in the film she wears a gown that deliberately catches fire
when she swirls around. It’s an appropriate image, given how much heat
there is surrounding her at the moment.

On target: Jennifer plays the central character of Katniss Everdeen in the film

On target: Jennifer plays the central character of Katniss Everdeen in the film

But as hot a property as she is (a second Hunger Games, Catching Fire, is due out late next year) she remains as down-to-earth as when I first met her in Sundance two years ago, joking with her fellow actors and receiving a hug from boyfriend Nicholas Hoult.

She tells me she’s spiced up her vocabulary with a few rude British words, gleaned while working on Matthew Vaughn’s X-Men: First Class.

After a quick check with colleagues, I regret to inform you that I can’t mention her favourite – though I cracked up when she told me, because she utters it with such innocence.

‘I say it all the time in America because they don’t know what it means,’ she said, deadpan.

We talk about the oppressed youngsters in Hunger Games and how they are manipulated by the game show devisers to kill each other. Chilling scenes of brutality are countered by moments of compassion.

‘Gladiators were forced to kill each other for sport, just as Katniss and the other tributes have to kill each other,’ she says.

She agrees that most TV reality shows are ghastly, but admits to being hooked all the same.

‘I’m no different. We watch people’s tragedy for entertainment, we watch people’s lives fall apart and we sit on our sofas and eat popcorn. Once you lose touch with your empathy, there’s no telling what could happen,’ she says.

Zygi Kamasa, chief executive of Lionsgate (the company distributing The Hunger Games) is working with Film Education, an organisation that promotes film within the national curriculum, to send 50,000 educational packs on Hunger Games (looking at how it relates to literature, religion, politics and civics) to British schools.

I think they should send Jennifer Lawrence into classrooms, too. She’s walking, talking proof that if you use your survival instincts, it’s still possible to take over Hollywood – rather than the other way round.

‘It’s a job,’ she says. ‘Other than that, I’m normal.’

Tim Rice

Tim Rice is to be given a special honour at the Olivier Awards.

The Society Of London Theatre will present the acclaimed lyricist with a glittering trophy during their annual show at Covent Garden on April 15.

Rice is being celebrated for his four-decade career, during which he has written lyrics for some of the theatre world’s biggest hits from his collaborations with Andrew Lloyd Webber (Joseph, Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita) to The Lion King and Chess.

When I saw Des McAnuff’s Stratford Festival Theatre version of JCS in New York recently I was struck, afresh, by the sheer cleverness of Rice’s lyrics (and, I should add, Lloyd Webber’s rock score).

There’s a good line-up of nominees for this year’s Oliviers, which are being presented in association with MasterCard. The National Theatre’s hit One Man, Two Guvnors has nominations for James Corden, Nicholas Hytner and Oliver Chris.

Mark Thompson’s design is up for a gong, and the show’s a contender for best new play — along with Collaborators, Jumpy and The Ladykillers.
Jude Law and Ruth Wilson are nominated for their sublime performances in Rob Ashford’s Donmar Theatre production of Anna Christie.

Hit musical Matilda and the brilliant Bertie Carvel are contenders, too; along with that show’s director, choreographer and designer. Betty Blue Eyes, Ghost The Musical and Shrek The Musical are also in contention.

Trevor Nunn’s Haymarket production of Flare Path has been recognised in the best revival category, and there’s a nomination for Sheridan Smith.

Watch out for…
Juliet Aubrey

Juliet Aubrey

Juliet Aubrey and Colin Tierney, who join John Simm in Betrayal, Harold Pinter’s brilliant study of the lethal layers between love and, well, betrayal.
Ms Aubrey and Tierney play married couple Emma and Robert, while Simm plays Jerry, who’s had a seven-year affair with Emma.

Pinter examines the minutiae of the various relationships with expert precision.

Nick Bagnall directs the Pinter play at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre, with performances from May 17.

Ms Aubrey, pictured, won major awards for her work in the TV dramatisations of The Mayor Of Casterbridge and Middlemarch. More recently she’s been seen in Primeval and Five Daughters.

Simm and Tierney, meanwhile, last worked together on Hamlet, also staged at the Crucible.

Owain Arthur, who has taken over from James Corden in the delicious comedy One Man, Two Guvnors at the Theatre Royal Haymarket.

Nothing helps shoo away a flu bug better than the sound of 900 people laughing until tears flowed, as they were swept up in what continues to be the most glorious comedy on the planet.

Owain is very good, and I like the lilt of his Welsh accent. The new ensemble is a joy. However, I am also looking forward to catching up with the original bunch over in New York. I’ve seen the show five times and it still manages to surprise me.

The advance at the Haymarket was 1.2 million on Wednesday. I should think it’ll be double that by Monday, but I’d advise you not to delay in getting tickets.