Written by Sarah

I’ve been saying for the past year that sixteen-year-old Saorise Ronan should be Katniss, and after seeing her in True Grit, I also thought that fourteen-year-old Hailee Steinfeld would also make a good Katniss. I have since decided to strike Steinfeld from my list because while I think she could absolutely nail the part of Katniss that steps in for her sister, the part that calculates and exaggerates—if not outright fakes (I’ve never bought Katniss and Peeta as epic lovers, but that’s for another time)—falling in love to survive. But with Steinfeld what I can’t quite see is the romantic angle. Steinfeld is a really good young actress but I haven’t seen anything to suggest she has that edge that makes it possible for me to believe her in romantic situations and not be totally creeped out. Ronan, on the other hand, I’d buy as a girl capable of manipulating emotions and her sexuality for her own gain.

But ever since Lainey first mentioned Jennifer Lawrence was the frontrunner for Katniss, Lawrence has grown on me. First and foremost—she’s a terrific actress. I know Katniss would be in good hands with her. As for her looks, specifically how un-Katniss she looks—I hate it when people go on and on about how a person looks in relation to a character. I have zero tolerance for that argument. Between hair, makeup, costuming and camera trickery, any actor can be made to look like anything. Saying Lawrence is a bad choice for Katniss because she’s blonde is the stupidest reason. Hair dye, done and done. As for her being “too pretty”—have you seen Winter’s Bone? She can plain it down. And in Lawrence I can see both the cold and soft sides of Katniss.

And then there’s the matter of her age. Steinfeld and Ronan are both under eighteen which means there are labor laws that dictate when and how they work on set. Generally, those rules don’t bother me as they were put in place to assure that child actors aren’t taken advantage of, and let’s face it, there are stage parents out there who would work their children twelve hours a day if they could. But they can’t. Kids can only work eight hours a day. And three of those hours are owed to education. So really, five hours a day. The Hunger Games is slated for release March 23, 2012. We’re a year out and production hasn’t begun. Unless Lionsgate intends to go cheapsies, rushed post-production styles, they need to get this off the ground in the next couple of months and when principal photography does begin, there won’t be time to waste. Katniss will be in nearly every scene, which means she’s on set every day. Who works more—the minor bound by law to five hours a day or the actress in her majority who can put in twelve to sixteen hours a day?

I understand the logistics behind choosing an older actress. Certainly, there is always the risk that she’ll outgrow the part before the franchise is done, assuming The Hunger Games succeeds and they make the other two movies, but that goes back to “any actor can be made to look like anything”. A good makeup artist can work that out. The last couple weeks have seen the hunt for Katniss condense to primarily three names: Lawrence, Ronan and Steinfeld. Hailee I think is mostly due to fan wishes. Things coming from Lionsgate’s general direction indicate that it’s down to Lawrence and Ronan, which makes me think this issue of age is the final hurdle. And what I see tipping the scale in Lawrence’s favor is…Alex Pettyfer.

I don’t have the hate-on for this guy that everyone else has developed over the last month. He doesn’t offend me. His screen presence is solid, if his acting remains unproven. He’s certainly cute. He and Lawrence would make for an attractive movie poster. Pretty Face himself confirmed that he’d met with the producers, though he was still waiting to see a script. Lainey told him to SIT DOWN over this piece of perceived impertinence—coming off two mediocre-at-best outings recently, who is Pettyfer to “consider” anything—but I wouldn’t sign on without a script, either, especially since he’s just been burned by badly scripted movies. Maybe I wouldn’t be quite so insouciant about my options, though. A lot of the film blogs have bitched about Pettyfer’s possible inclusion on the project but I checked fan internet hangouts and even before he started hyping himself for the part, Pettyfer was showing up consistently among fans as a desirable Peeta. Maybe not the favorite, but part of the pack at least.

I don’t think Pettyfer is a slamdunk, though. I think he’s rolling the dice by talking up his involvement in the casting process—if he doesn’t get the part he’s going to look like a huge tool—but other male names have yet to surface and there’s been nary a mention of a possible Gale anywhere. Still, Pettyfer is twenty—of age. That he met with producers at all tells me they’re leaning older for Peeta, too. Jennifer Lawrence and Alex Pettyfer. I can see it. The marketing department will love it. The lawyers will love it—no trouble from those child labor laws. And if the director can live with it, so can I. Past experience has shown that the weirder these choices seem in the beginning, the better they usually work out in the end.

File photos from Wenn.com