Fans of The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins’ terrifically urgent dystopian trilogy about children forced to fight to the death — have always been protective of 16-year-old heroine Katniss Everdeen. So when Lionsgate and director Gary Ross announced that they had cast 20-year-old Oscar nominee Jennifer Lawrence (Winter’s Bone) in the lead role, the community was thrown into an inevitable tailspin. Was she too old, too blonde, too pale, too pretty to do the gritty warrior girl justice? In this week’s cover story, EW was granted an exclusive interview with a newly brunette Lawrence, and spent hours watching her train on a Los Angeles archery range and track, just days before she was due on the North Carolina set.
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