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The casting of 'The Hunger Games': Just calm down already


Perhaps you’ve been following the development of "The Hunger Games" — the upcoming film based on the book that may have been ripped off from another book about kids fighting in a giant outdoor lucha libre death match.

Actually, scratch that. Of course you’ve been following the development of "The Hunger Games." "Twilight" is winding down. What else are tweens and overheated hausfraus expected to follow — the situation in Libya?

So here’s the latest with "The Hunger Games": Casting. Not everybody likes the designated hottie lineup. For one, the franchise heroine, a brown-haired teenager named Katniss, will be channeled on screen by a blond 20-year-old named Jennifer Lawrence. The two boys who complete the Katniss love sandwich in the book also will be of age in the movie: Liam Hemsworth (21) and Josh Hutcherson (18).

To many fans, the choices seemed clueless at best, cravenly cynical at worst. After all, isn’t there a perfectly serviceable, 14-year-old Hailee Steinfeld all trained and ready to report to the set? So you’d think. But then you’d think wrong.

Casting directors say that, yes, while Steinfeld may, in fact, exist, the suits at Lionsgate probably couldn’t have hired her even if they'd wanted to. In fact, they likely had to cast a trio of adults. Here’s why.

By law, child actors can work only six hours per day. They also require on-set tutors, multiple breaks and other quite reasonable allowances that can add up on a studio’s balance sheet. One kid, a la "Little Miss Sunshine," works fine money-wise. Several kids? Often cost prohibitive.

(Sure, Steinfeld was one of the leads in "True Grit." But she was the only child lead. After her six hours per day were up, Jeff Bridges or Matt Damon could mosey on in and work for another six hours.)

So why not divide it up? Well, if you cast one kid -- say, as the female lead -- it would look awkward to have her flirting -- or fighting -- with adult men. And vice versa: Imagine an adult woman having an on-screen love triangle with boys who look underage.

“We have to believe that these are all kids who are reasonably the same age,” says Bonnie Gillespie of the casting company Cricket Feet.

And there you have it. Bring on the geriatric tributes!


Prince William gets a taste of media cattiness ahead of wedding

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Don't look now, but Kate Middleton just ate something

— Leslie Gornstein

Photos (from left): Liam Hemsworth. Credit: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images.

Jennifer Lawrence. Credit: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images.

Josh Hutcherson. Credit: Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (48)

The issue here is NOT the age, it's the race factor. There is a female lead that is supposed to be BLACK and she's NOT. THAT is what the huff is all about.

Outside of that, GALE is wrong, too. Read here: "One only need look at the endless parade of remakes and sequels to know that Hollywood doesn’t like to take risks. But a huge, devoted fan base has fallen in love with these books and with Katniss, described as olive-skinned and dark haired. Yet the director still couldn’t extend the casting call to include anyone other than Caucasian? Before the Harry Potter movies, no one knew who Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, or Emma Watson were. Why wasn’t an unknown actress of biracial, Latina or Mediterranean heritage given a shot? They could cast Tyler Perry in drag (*shudder*) in this role and it would still make buckets of money.

Katniss’ racial identity is left somewhat vague, we don’t know what she is, but we know what she’s not. She’s not blonde haired and blue eyed like her mother and sister and Peeta. She’s dark, like Gale (can’t wait to see who gets that part). And even though we know that the cinema magic that can turn handsome 40-ish Brad Pitt into 80-year old Benjamin Button can surely turn J.Law into the grey-eyed, black haired Katniss, that’s not good enough."

Taken from here: http://www.theinterrobangs.com/2011/03/why-the-casting-of-the-hunger-games-matters/

you're kindof annoying with your cattiness

Nobody's complaining about Haliee not getting the role, most fans are fine with Jennifer as Katniss. It's Josh and Liam as Peeta and Gale that has a lot (and i mean a LOT) of people uspet. Particularily Josh as Peeta, fans have been trying to picture it, and a lot of us just can't see it. It's very diffucult to imagine Josh pulling off the Peeta we imagined, and wanted. Not much we can do about it now though, the actors have their contracts. I think it was a silly mistake by Lionsgate though, so many fans have lost interest in this movie now, and even for the people who never read the books, Josh isn't a big draw to go and this movie. I think Lionsgate messed up.

This is bigger then twilight. just to say. it is more intelligent and seems to call out to those who are tired of a sappy love story between humans and vampires, cliche. The casting you are right. That particularly is probably the situation but as i must say on every website i visit that has something slightly negative to say about the casting, i have faith in Suzanne. She is the author and we must trust the fact that she approves of the casting and it is because of her that the Hunger Games even exist! You people have to quit complaining considering that it isn't you who thought it up. Every single person sees the characters differently. You may not see them as these people but others do. Geez. Quit complaining.

I'm a book fan and have been following the THG messageboards pretty steadily since the casting has been on high gear. I don't think the fans are having issues with the actors being 18 and older. There are some who do, but the majority understand why Lionsgate has cast "age 18 +" actors. The logistics make sense.

I believe the biggest hoopla in the casting circus have been the actual actors who were picked for the roles. None of these actors have been in "fan favorite" lists (Josh may be, but for Gale and fans assumed a a younger actress would be cast at Katniss). It appears that Lionsgate/Gary Ross' main strategy was to cast based on acting ability - it didn't really matter what the actor looked like or whether they were being faithful to the character descriptions from the book. Proof was when Jennifer Lawrence was cast. Physically, she is the anti-Katniss. The same thing happened with dark haired Josh Hutcherson - who was cast as blonde-haired, blue-eyed Katniss' professed admirer and somewhat lover. A 20-year old heroine and 18-year old hero who are the same height at best (at worst, Jennifer is a little taller). While there's normally nothing wrong about that, let's look at the actors themselves: Jennifer looks very much like a 20-year old woman while Josh is so babyfaced he could pass for 15. I won't dwell on Liam. At least he's the right age for Jennifer and fits Gale's height and build.

So if you really want to find the root cause of fans' ire, it is because: 1. Lionsgate cast actors who do not fit the descriptions from the book; 2. fans' voices were not considered and heard; 3. Lionsgate/Gary Ross could have done better. There are other talented actors in the age range of 18-23 that would have been more suitable and fit the role better; 4. the dynamic between Katniss and Peeta is in jeopardy. Both characters protect each other in the book. Katniss "buries her head" on Peeta's shoulders many times. While I see that Liam is more than capable of protecting Jennifer, I don't see that in Josh. it looks like in the movie Katniss will be doing all the protecting. As some fans have said, they're not casting for "Adventures in Babysitting" here. Katniss and Peeta are supposed to be equals, but in my opinion Jennifer and Josh look far from that.

Why compare The Hunger Games to Twilight? Twilight focuses on romance while THG's romance is secondary - it's an action series. In my personal opinion, THG is also SO much better than Twilight, plot-wise and lead-female wise.

KHLEO THOMAS for the role of THRESH!

I'll make it simple.
That is all.

Hm, thanks for shooting down teens. I personally never liked Twilight so it seems as if you think many teens who would enjoy reading THG inferior to you, you so noble, right person. Ha!
You're ignoring other options, Kaya Scodelario (18) who wouldn't need child-care here.
I looove THG series because they inspired me. They're amazing to me, but I don't see who you are to tell me that THG is just another crappy Twilight book. Thanks for your ever-judging opinion, think things through before you insult a huge population.

Also, to relate to the main points, the cast sucks. I can see why they chose Jenifer, an Oscar nominee, but Josh? I thought that was a joke, I remember him from RV and that's it. And Liam? Who? The Miley Cyrus guy? Ah well, they screw up books daily. Nothing new here.
I knew making a movie was a bad idea...can't change things now.

I like Marcy's comments. I also think it's way ironic that Katniss, Peeta AND Gale will spend hours with a prep team before Katniss and Gale go in and spend hours filming their time with a prep team. Hopefully the actors are genuinely up to the parts, as the production team claim - and the cosmetics are cosmetic - but if Cinna is cast as flamboyant (as written elsewhere), comic Hugh Laurie is cast as Haymitch (HORRIBLE casting, too close to House, don't ever cast a comic in a primarily serious role - look at John Cleese in "Silverado" - audiences laughed the moment he appeared although there was nothing funny about him, and House is humorous PLUS Laurie is a known comic in the UK.) Phillip Seymour Hoffman for Haymitch, Robert Downey Jr. for President Show, and frankly if we're talking about wrong wrong wrong how did the director of the abominable "Pleasantville" and dribbly sentimental "Seabiscuit" get this plum part anyway?? PS: all Harry Potter kids HORRIBLE HORRIBLE HORRIBLE casting. With the possible exception of Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley. Everyone else - AWFUL.

I try to stay open minded, although I am slightly disappointed in some of the casting. I also think that we should have a little faith in them, I mean they are actors and it's their job to be able to play different roles, they just have to work twice as hard to make it more convincing that they deserved the part. I really hope that they get the plot right. This is not a love story, it is full of action with the start of a love triangle, which becomes something more in Catching Fire. It kinda makes me nervous to read that the movie is about a love triangle and not including much about the games themselves.
I agree with who ever said that you shouldn't compare Twilight to The Hunger Games. Not the same author, not the same characters, just not the same.

I agree that the casting seems off by a wide margin from the books. For example, Peeta is said to be able to lift 100 pound bags of flour all day. He is a stocky guy who can hold off the career tributes. Does that remind you of Josh Hutcherson? Don't get me wrong, I like the guy and think he's a good actor but it's hard to imagine him as Jennifer's love. Obviously Suzanne Collins and everyone else involved cares a great deal about the movie but their choices so far have been uninspired and not in keeping with the passion and fury of the books.

I think they should just keep Jennifer Lawrence and Liam Hemsworth as blonde and Josh as brown hair and just switch the characters outside looks

because honestly Jennifer and Liam look like family without the dye and it will be really hard to blond Josh since his hair is dark.

Just my suggestion.

For crying out loud!!...Katniss is NOT BLACK!...olive skinned does not equal black. It was NEVER CLEARLY STATED!..and if it is not, then it is not cannon (look up the word) Just because it was how YOU imagined it does not set it stone. Rue is BLACK!!! NOT KATNISS!. I can't stand fans misinterpreting the story. As far as the cast, calm down, there is an OSCAR nominee playing the lead role and Lawrence will kick ass because that's what great actors do with the parts they have been given. The turd who wrote this article purposely wrote insulting things to get attention so he/she could get people to come to the site. I can't believe the whole she doesn't have dark hair crap...ever hear of Meryl Streep???...of course you have well, she went dark haired for Out of Africa, Bridges of Madison County. Diane Lane just went dark haired for Cinema Verite. The supporting cast is fine as well. It's entertainement...not the end of your little world, Congratulations to ALL the actors and I can't wait to see the film.

Is olive-skinned black?? I guess if Collins thought of that particular race maybe she would've written it as so, but instead she writes about a particular complexion. So let's not get our panties in a bunch people. Honestly I think the childish tantrums over how each character should look is ridiculous. The color of her skin is not what defines Katniss. Let's not make a big deal over something so petty.

katniss isnt supposed to be black shes supposed to be tan if she is black in the books dont you think susan collins would have told the director and he would have cast someone black but shes not black in the books soooo the didnt cast a black person see how it all works out.

Meh. Give it a month or two till they cast Haymitch, this will all settle down. I'm just happy they've finally cast someone. Or that they're making the freakin' movie. I'm sure they picked the actors based on acting skills, not fan favorites or good looks (Hello Alex Pettyfer!) Liam wasn't my favorite for Gale, but, it works. I just wish there was more film to analyze Liam's acting skills, you know, beyond Last Song. Give it a few months to go into production, have them toss us a shot here and there, and everything would be fine.
Gosh, can you imagine if this happened when they made the Bourne? Matt Damon would never be the sexy, brooding Jason Bourne we all know an love because Matt spent his earlier movies playing an idiot (Oceans 11), or super smart guy who gets beat up (Goodwill Hunting, Rounders.) Who could want the iconic Jason Bourne played by numbers guy with problems? So wrong! But, he was, and it turned out to be one of the best things to happen to action movies in a long long time.

The Hunger Games is nothing like Twilight as the above suggests with, "Of course you’ve been following the development of "The Hunger Games." "Twilight" is winding down. What else are tweens and overheated hausfraus expected to follow — the situation in Libya?." That is just insulting. The Hunger Games trilogy focuses on the effects that war has on children, so to say that "tweens" and fans of the book are focusing all of their attention on the casting of this movie rather then on the situation in Libya is completely inaccurate and unjustifiable.

I also dont see what the fuss is about over the age of those cast as Katniss, Peeta and Gale or what they look like. It is not that hard to make an 18, 20, and 21 year old to look like a 16 year old, and the color of their eyes and hair can easily be changed. As for Katniss' skin color, im sure if they can make her skin blue in X-Men: First Class, they could give her olive skin for The Hunger Games if they really wanted to. Just wait for the movie to come out and calm down.

okay. first off. Katniss Everdeen? Not Black. They closed the casting to caucasions because Suzanne Collins wanted a caucasion. Not a race issue... why waste time at auditions when you know the look that you want? Rue and Thresh are African American, Collins has stated this and I'm sure she will stick to it.
Now, Jennifer Lawrence. Yes, the polar opposite of Katniss... I didn't like it at first either. BUT she's a good actress (clearly, she got an oscar nom). She's 20, okay... but those child labor issues make sense. Collins okayed her, so have faith. If she is terrible then she'll get a lot of crap for it. Let's remember a little petition that was created against Rob Pattinson? Super-fans need to caaallllm down.
Next, Peeta: Josh Hutcherson was chosen over Hunter Parrish (i was also rooting for hunter), but Hunter didn't die we can still watch him on Weeds (which is probably the reason he didn't get cast). Josh is different but he's WAY better then Alex Pooptyfer (who is already in a trilogy that was terrible by the way).
Gale: Liam... well that was just the wrong casting choice and should be blamed on the people who cast him. Not his fault he's nothing like gale.

My point, Fans are upset bc their voices arent being heard.But on the internet their bashing the people who are chosen when they should be bashing the people who chose them.
And remember- if you hate the casting so much.. dont see the movie. then there wont be a sequel!

This is why you don't go see the movie people!! Hollywood always wants to Barbie-ize everything. They will probably put her awesomely curvacious body in Baywatch apparell and cheapen the whole experience. This movie won't be for the fans of the book, it will be for the pervs of world.... Thank god for books!!!

Hunger Games is not a tween boook. Quite hyping it like that. Most fans are fine with these decisions, mostly because S. Collins is a big part of the process...

It seemed like the real talk only went for a month right after awards season. If Lionsgate actually cared about the books as they do in their pockets, they wouldn't limit themselves in a casting director's caucasian actors phone book. It's unfortunate if that is the case with Steinfeld. But all I'm saying is, Lionsgate could have planned things better.

I think they're doing this on purpose... picking actors/actress that look nothing like the real characters we had envisioned. Probably so they can give them a 'complete' makeover so they look exactly like the characters. Remember Twilight, when we think of Bella and Edward automatic an image of Kristin Stewart and Robert Pattinson comes to mind, which isn't good. We should see an image of Bella and Edward not Kristin and Robert, so that's what I think will we great about The Hunger Games. They are going to change the actors/actress looks a lot so they look like the charcters we had imagined. Remember, these actors/actresses will have their faces on book covers, magazines, posters, etc. We want to see the character not the actor.

So very disappointed in the casting. Lions Gate (and Suzanne Collins) chose actors that are the It Twenty Something group of 2011. But you say they can act? Maybe the Pamela Anderson look-a-like can, but the cast looks no where near the age nor even faintly resemble the fans beloved characters. It truly seems the studio just did not care, they are going to make the movie they want, not the story we've all come to love.

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