The age difference between Jennifer Lawrence and Katniss Everdeen actually made The Hunger Games better. Based on Suzanne Collins’ dystopian sci-fi young adult book series, the Hunger Games franchise took the relatively unknown actress and turned her into a household name. Katniss is an iconic young adult heroine, and Lawrence’s portrayal of the reluctant revolutionary is a big reason why the Hunger Games movies work so well. At the time of Lawrence’s casting, there was a concern that she was too old to play Katniss, but her performance across all four Hunger Games movies proved that she was the right fit for the part regardless of age.

Many actresses auditioned for the role of Katniss before Lawrence, fresh off of her first Oscar nomination for Winter’s Bone, was chosen. When she landed the coveted part, she was 20 years old. On the other hand, Katniss is 16 in the first Hunger Games book, making Lawrence four years older than her character. In spite of actresses closer to Katniss’ age, such Saoirse Ronan and Hailee Steinfeld, vying for the part, Lawrence seemingly made the best impression despite the age difference. Casting Lawrence as Katniss ended up being the right decision for the Hunger Games films, as proven by reactions to her portrayal and the popularity of the movies’ interpretation of Katniss.

Related: How Old Jennifer Lawrence Was When She Made The Hunger Games Movies

Jennifer Lawrence Was The Best Katniss (Despite Being 4 Years Older)

the hunger games - katniss and the gamemakers

Despite the age difference, Jennifer Lawrence was the best fit for the role of Katniss. Gary Ross, the director of The Hunger Games, said in an interview (via Entertainment Weekly) that Suzanne Collins saw every single audition and was unconcerned with Lawrence’s age. Collins said that the character of Katniss demanded “someone of a certain maturity and power” and preferred an older actress rather than a younger one in the role. This is a good point; Katniss may be 16, but she’s had to grow up quickly after her father’s death to help take care of her younger sister Prim as well as her mother.

There were a handful of talented young actresses that auditioned, but it’s unknown if they would be able to convey Katniss’ maturity the same way Lawrence did. In the Entertainment Weekly interview, Gary Ross mentioned that both he and Suzanne Collins saw Katniss as a young woman, rather than a young girl, so casting an older actress was for the best. The opinion that the 20-year-old Oscar nominee Jennifer Lawrence was too old to play Katniss is silly; the age difference isn’t too significant to believable, and it isn’t as if performers in their 20s haven’t convincingly played teen characters in the past.

Lawrence’s Age Didn’t Matter For The Hunger Games

the hunger games - katniss in the meadow

While Jennifer Lawrence’s age did raise some concern when her casting announcement was made, her age ultimately didn’t matter. Ross was initially drawn to Lawrence due to her performance in Winter’s Bone, but her audition for The Hunger Games sealed the deal. While reminiscing on the 10th anniversary of the film (via The Hollywood Reporter), Ross mentioned that Lawrence “blew the doors off the place” when she read for Katniss. If they had decided to cast closer to Katniss’ age, audiences would’ve missed out on Lawrence’s phenomenal performance. Jennifer Lawrence’s screen presence is compelling, and she brought the perfect level of intensity and emotion to the role of Katniss in the Hunger Games movies.

Fans of The Hunger Games may have had someone younger in mind to play Katniss, but the films didn’t go wrong by picking Lawrence for the role. The Hunger Games films were definitely enjoyable for their plot and level of action, but the movies wouldn’t have been successful if they didn’t get the casting for Katniss right. Jennifer Lawrence’s age was a boon to the movies because she brought the maturity and power to the role that Collins was looking for. Although Jennifer Lawrence has proved her talent in other films before and since The Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen remains an iconic role for the actress.

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