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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!


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— 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)

to linds
actually katniss is suppose to have an OLIVE skin tone.....
yah she isn't black. To me I just can't see Josh being able to play Peeta.

I don't think looking the part is everything, but i don't think acting the part is everything either. They need to cast people who are great acting-wise for the role, and who will also be able to pull off the physical description in the book, so that fans can see their favorite characters being done justice on screen.

I'm fine with Jennifer, and Liam, well i never really cared about Gale anyways so whatever, but Josh is so far off the mark from looking like Peeta. And blonde hair dye really isn't going to help much because his face is still not Peeta-ish. So, I think Josh was a very poor casting choice for Peeta and I'm pretty dissapointed. I'm sure he's a good actor, but they should have made a better compromise between looks and acting ability. I think they could have found a better Peeta.

Anyone else think Lyndsy Fonseca was PERFECT to play Katniss!? And LIAM as Peeta and JOSH as Gale? Not the other way around? Ugh. :/

I can't believe people think Josh should be Gale? That, to me, is the most surprising of all. I totally imagined a josh-like person as the character - baby-faced with a good boy smile. I did not picture a Liam-type as Gale, I pictured someone with more angular, sexy and broading features. I agree with the earlier post that brought up how upset everyone was over the casting of Robert Pattinson as Edward and would like to expand about how Taylor Lautner was so not right for Jacob - until he worked hard to beef up his body and then he became Jacob. He still isn't 6'7" as was described in the book, but that doesn't seem to bother anyone now. Everyone's concern should be the director because the director has the ability to truly ruin the movie (as Catherine Hardwicke did to the first Twilight and then sequels were much better).

Finally, I am not a tween and yet I loved both Twilight and Hunger Games. It is amazing, I know, but I have many aspects to my personality. Some are concerned with Libya and West Africa, while other parts enjoy the escape of a ridiculous teen vamp love story. THG is for all ages. It is an easy read that is on my nephew's 6th grade reading list and yet my book club full of intellectual lawyers all loved the THG trilogy as much as my nephew did. There truly has only ever been one movie that did justice to a book for me and that was Harry Potter. However, I am still hopeful because if movie magic was able to capture the Wizarding world then maybe they can capture the land of The Hunger Games as well. Fingers crossed and Aloha to you all.

What are you talking about? If you are talking about Rue, she hasn't been casted yet. And if you are talking about Katniss, she ISN'T black.

Linds, how in the heck do you get from reading the book that Katniss is black? Rue and Thresh are clearly described as black, Katniss is not - Katniss's blood mother and sister are described as blond haired, blue eyes, light skin. How do you get black?

Sick of hearing people complain about the casting. Remember how everyone was anti-Robert Pattinson before Twiilight came out, than after everyone was all "OMG ROBERT PATTINSON MARRY ME!" Relax. It will turn out fine.

I agree with darkstarzz and Shannel. Everyone needs to chill out. The AUTHOR is behind these choices, and I think she has a better vision of this iconic characters than any of us do. I am obsessed with the books and can't wait to see the movie. I trust Suzanne C.

And those who think Katniss is black, you need to read an interview (seriously, ANY RECENT INTERVIEW) with the author. She's not black, and I think the author knows. She's said that Rue and Thresh are and it will be honored. Calm down.

"As far as the cast, calm down, there is an OSCAR nominee playing the lead role."

And an Oscar winner appeared in the horrible "Boat Trip." What's your point?

Recently, I've come around to the fact that kids should have been casted. Teenagers. Real teenagers like the ones in the books because that's part of the major tragedy--children killing each other off and the fact that 19/20 year olds are playing these parts infuriates me.
And the only reason they have is that it's too costly? Uhhh...does anyone remember Harry Potter? There were thousands of kids on set! They should have given this job to WB. They would have handled this with more care and consideration. They are rushing this movie into production! I'm so mad--with valid reasons.

You guys realize that you won't be marrying either of the two male leads, right? They're not going to discover you on Facebook and ask to friend you, right? I think it's a matter of staying true to the books. It gets a little annoying though if there are legitimate teenaged actors who can play the part but the studio is too cheap to shoulder the responsibility of having a child actor? Lame and lazy.

I don't get what's all the fuss. I'm a huge fan of the books. Read them numerous of times, yet I never found myself imaging what any of the characters LOOK like. I know Katniss is described with dark hair, tan skin and gray eyes, but I never actually formed an image of her. It's her personality, her actions and dialogue that help form an impression. I think of a bow and arrow, hunting and a straight face when I think of Katniss. Not her skin, eyes, or hair.

Sure, the actors have to look the age (and after watching Winter's Bone, I believe Jennifer Lawrence can pull of 16. She has a round babyface) but Collins never specified what Katniss' race was. She even said it herself, that Gale and her are a mixture of races. Only Rue and Thresh were told to be African American.

Plus, this is a movie. Not a book. Of course people are going to have conflicting opinions since they all imagined the book differently than the producers/director/whoever.

Anyways, a good script, good actors and a good director will make this film a success. Not whether the actors match the the EXACT descriptions in the book.

I am a huge fan of these books and I LOVE the casting choices. Obviously the cast is going to disappoint some people, because everyone has their own vision of these characters. The book's description is a guide, but we each have a specific picture in mind. There's no possible way to please everybody. I think the casting choices will prove to be really great. Especially Josh! I know he's supposed to be blonde, and she's supposed have olive skin, and Gale is supposed to look like Katniss, but the story is what's important. I'm so glad they're taking the time to make these movies in the first place and I think it will be fantastic!

white-washing is the main issue here. when an author explicitly details the features, stature, and age of all characters involved, it's hard to believe that the exact opposite will be portrayed in a film version. and to make a great, exciting story cast by those who are the opposite of what the roles call for is definitely a mistake. it's dreadful that people, including our beloved author, care more about the money than casting the RIGHT people who look the correct age and sound the correct age, as well. i was a hunger games fan, but the movies will probably degrade the books, just like the twilight movies. way to go, hollywood. you've completely wrecked another great story, just for the profits. welcome to america.
*and the fans of the hunger games were all distraught when the twilight goobs started ogling this series as their new "love story." it's not the same thing, hon.

and i truly hope that Khol is right. that would be an amazing way to create a movie based off of a book, is to make it so that the characters come out of their portrayal of the story, not the initial physical appearance of the actors.

i think that the casting director should take more interest in what the fans have to say, right? We are the 1s buying the tickets for the mo vies, so shouldnt they be trying to appease their audience by at least taking some of our ideas about casting into consideratio?

no that is NOT the issure here
the lead character is not black, she has olive skin and green eyes
where in the hell did you figure she as black?
that is NOT what the huff is about, damn.

they are the wrong ages and hair colours and eye colours for the roles katniss id ment to be 16 and have black hair and grey eyes and gale is ment to be 18 and have black hair and Grey eyes peeta is the right age but he is ment to have blond hair and blue eyes did the directors even read the book they r all good actors but i think they arnt the right actors for the hunger games

rahr! i just wanted everyone in the games names! Grrrrrrr...

The cast chosen is all fricken wrong! Whoever chose these people to be in the movie clearly did not read the series.

hey guys come on- if this book was so amazing, (it was!!) then give these actors a chance you may be surprised.

Horrible job CASTING! I mean Katniss er ok. But PEETA I'm going to barf so horrible no no no they just ruined the best book ever!

what the heck?! they could have at least of got adult actors THAT LOOK LIKE THEM i mean Peeta's blond in the book with blue eyes and Katniss doesn't even have brown hair let alone gray eyes. Terrible cast look wise

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