'Hunger Games' fans set up camp at L.A. Live
"I feel like a zombie," Jennifer Lawrence said to a fellow cast mate, as she eyed a line of fans that swirled around the courtyard of the Nokia Theatre.
On Sunday -- Lawrence's first day off in weeks -- the actress had made the trek to downtown Los Angeles to sign posters and pose for photographs with some of the 400 fans who were camped out in advance of the film's premiere the following day.
"I knew people were camping out, and I couldn't not come," the 21-year-old said moments later in an interview, dressed in an expensive-looking white leather jacket, her hair perfectly coifed into Shirley Temple-esque ringlets. "When the first 'Harry Potter' came out, I would have camped out -- absolutely. By the time I was 13, I had read the book three times. If I grew up in England, I would have been that person."
Lawrence and the rest of "The Hunger Games" cast -- which includes Liam Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson -- have devoted much time lately to promoting the highly-anticipated film, out March 23. They have one more stop left on a cross-country mall tour and will soon embark on an international press tour.
For her part, Lawrence appeared well-equipped to handle her duties. As each fan approached her, she smiled dutifully, chirping "Hi!!" and saying "thank you" for any number of the multiple compliments she received.
The small group who got the chance to meet the actress on Sunday was made up of hardcore fans who had arrived in the wee hours of the morning. The first 400 people in line at 6 a.m. were allowed into the space outside the Nokia, where they lugged tents, sleeping bags and folding chairs into the courtyard they'll call home until Monday afternoon, when they'll have to clear out to make way for a massive red carpet.
On Sunday afternoon, those fans who had made it into the encampment appeared to be relatively subdued. Some visited a KIIS-FM radio both, while others took free popcorn from a food truck. Many sat on blankets they'd set up over the concrete, sifting through gossip magazines or eating junk food -- cans of Pringles, cases of Krispy Kreme donuts and Little Caesar's pizza boxes were all popular choices.
Fans came from all over the country to catch a glimpse of the fledgling franchise's stars. Lauren Hernandez, 12, said she'd persuaded her father to make the relatively short drive from Sherman Oaks by "getting good grades and giving him lots of hugs." Amanda Belcher, 29, used her vacation days at a public relations firm to fly from Scranton, Pa. to L.A. in the hopes she'd be one of the lucky 400. And AJ Sutter, 19, was spending his college spring break with a friend in Hollywood so the two could go on a joint "The Hunger Games" trek.
"Jennifer Lawrence is really, really hot. I can't say too much, because I have a girlfriend back at home," said Sutter, a 19-year-old from Wisconsin dressed in a basketball jersey. His girlfriend, he said, was extremely jealous that he was set to meet the film's cast -- so he planned to bring her back a signed poster.
Moments later, that dream was dashed. Sutter was next in line to meet Lawrence when the actress was whisked into a black SUV. Instead, he only received the signature of secondary cast member Isabelle Furhman.
"I'm pretty depressed," he pouted after exiting the queue. "Now she's just gone."
Photo: Fans gather Sunday at L.A. Live ahead of "The Hunger Games" world premiere. Credit Eric Charbonneau/WireImage)