Director Gary Ross defends the casting of Jennifer Lawrence in <strong><em>The Hunger Games</em></strong>
The big news story yesterday was Oscar-nominated actress Jennifer Lawrence confirmed to star as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games adaptation. Some have speculated that the 20-year-old actress might be too old to portray the 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen, although director Gary Ross revealed that the casting decision was approved by author Suzanne Collins, who wrote the novel the movie is based on. Here's what Gary Ross had to say below.

"First of all, I talked to Suzanne extensively about this. Suzanne saw every single audition. And not only did Suzanne not have an issue with Jen's age, she felt you need someone of a certain maturity and power to be Katniss. This is a girl who needs to incite a revolution. We can't have an insubstantial person play her, and we can't have someone who's too young to play this. Suzanne was incredibly adamant about this. Far from being too old, she was very concerned that we would cast someone who was too young. In Suzanne's mind, and in mine, Katniss is not a young girl. It's important for her to be a young woman. She's a maternal figure in her family. She's had to take care of Prim, and in many ways her mother, since her father's death. She's had to grow up pretty quickly."

Gary Ross also talked about the implications of casting a blonde-haired caucasian woman for a role who is described as olive-skinned and possibly bi-racial in the novel.

"Suzanne and I talked about that as well. There are certain things that are very clear in the book. Rue is African-American. Thresh is African-American. Suzanne had no issues with Jen playing the role. And she thought there was a tremendous amount of flexibility. It wasn't doctrine to her. Jen will have dark hair in the role, but that's something movies can easily achieve. [Laughs] I promise all the avid fans of The Hunger Games that we can easily deal with Jennifer's hair color."

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