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Category: Hunger Games

Is Jennifer Lawrence revisiting the wilderness-mama genre with 'Glass Castle'?

April 23, 2012 |  2:27 pm

Jenniferlawrence
While promoting “The Hunger Games” last month, Jennifer Lawrence quipped, “I don’t know what it is with me and maternal wilderness girls. I just love 'em.…” The 21-year-old actress was referring not only to her role as Katniss Everdeen in the uber-blockbuster that has now racked up more than $350 million but also to her Academy Award-nominated part as Ree Dolly in 2010’s “Winter’s Bone.” While the films are markedly different, both feature strong female protagonists who must take on a motherly role because their parents can't fulfill their responsibilities.

That trend seems to be continuing. Not even the intensity of playing Katniss has seemed to abate the actress’ passion for the “maternal wilderness girl.” According to Deadline Hollywood this morning, Lawrence is eyeing another such part in an adaptation of journalist and gossip columnist Jeannette Walls’ best-selling memoir “The Glass Castle.”

Lionsgate declined to comment for this story, but it seems Lawrence has little fear about being typecast. “The Glass Castle” is Walls’ chronicle of her unorthodox childhood as one of four children who had to fend for themselves after their eccentric parents proved unable. The book, published in 2005, spent some 250 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and was a favorite among many book clubs.

Paramount Pictures scooped up the movie rights to the book the year it was published via its deal with Brad Pitt’s production company Plan B but was never able to turn it into a feature film. The project went into turnaround, and producer Gil Netter (“The Blind Side,”) bought it. According to screenwriter Marti Noxon, who is just signing her deal to work on the script, Lionsgate’s president of production, Eric Feig, pounced on the project before Gill and Noxon were able to take it out as a pitch.

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Francis Lawrence to direct 'Hunger Games' sequel 'Catching Fire'

April 19, 2012 |  6:31 pm

FrancisLawrence
"The Hunger Games" sequel "Catching Fire" will likely be directed by Francis Lawrence, a filmmaker whose résumé includes the big-budget event film "I Am Legend" and the intimate drama "Water for Elephants," a person close to the production but not authorized to speak publicly confirmed. According to that person, the studio has yet to close the deal.

Independent studio Lionsgate offered Lawrence the job on Thursday, little more than a week after "Hunger Games" director Gary Ross departed in a dispute over financial terms and the amount of time he would have had to prepare to make the sequel, which starts production in August and will hit theaters in November 2013.

Lionsgate considered a number of directors for the job, including Tomas Alfredson ("Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy"), Tony Scott ("Unstoppable") and Stephen Daldry ("Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close"). By Wednesday, the negotiations were down to Lawrence and Bennett Miller, the Oscar-nominated director of "Moneyball" and "Capote."

Lawrence had been considered the leading candidate, however, because his schedule was open; Miller was supposed to begin shooting another movie, "Foxcatcher," this fall. In addition, he has experience with the type of special effects necessary to make "Catching Fire."

Bringing in a new director to a popular franchise is a tricky proposition, though Lionsgate subsidiary Summit did it successfully with its "Twilight" series. In Lawrence, the studio apparently believes it has found a director capable of balancing the high-octane action, personal relationships and social commentary that many critics praised Ross for capturing in "The Hunger Games."

Lawrence will have to move quickly to prepare to start shooting "Catching Fire." Screenwriter Simon Beaufoy is currently working on a script for the film.

The 42-year-old Lawrence was born in Austria and worked on music videos and commercials before making his feature film debut in 2005 on the comic-book adaptation "Constantine," starring Keanu Reeves.

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— Ben Fritz and Nicole Sperling

Photo: Francis Lawrence on the set of "Water for Elephants." Credit: David James / 20th Century Fox.


'Catching Fire' director: Lionsgate eyeing Cronenberg, Innaritu, Cuaron

April 12, 2012 | 10:56 am

Cronenberg
Now that Lionsgate and director Gary Ross have parted ways, the studio behind "The Hunger Games"  franchise is in a rather unenviable position. Sure, they are likely to land a director for less then what it would have cost to have kept Ross in the chair, but now they must find someone who pleases both the gregarious fans who have turned the movie into such a juggernaut and, perhaps more importantly, appease Suzanne Collins, the author of the three-book series, who was a close collaborator with Ross during his tenure on the project.

The studio has been quickly cobbling together a list of directors who would fit their criteria. According to a source with knowledge of the list who isn't permitted to speak on the record, Lionsgate needs to find a director with enough credits and accolades to appeal to Collins, who is much more interested in quality filmmaking than box-office prowess. This director also needs to have an even keel; no petulant crybabies allowed. The studio wants to get the sequel, "Catching Fire," into production by August, and the task will require someone who can wrangle a large ensemble of actors, juggle the demands of a swift schedule and collaborate on a script with Collins and writer Simon Beaufoy.

The master list is seven or eight names long, all men, and all have some significant credits to their name. Lionsgate is basically hoping to re-create the "Harry Potter" moment when Warner Bros. brought Alfonso Cuaron to direct the third film in the series. (Chris Columbus left after helming the first two.) Cuaron was a creative choice who excited critics, journalists and author J.K. Rowling, who all were interested in what the director of "Y Tu Mama Tambien" would do with the series.

In fact, Cuaron is in the mix for "Catching Fire," along with David Cronenberg and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, among others. All have been working in the industry for decades and trend more toward darker, indie fare than commercial hits.

Cronenberg has frequently been offered big commercial gigs over the years, including "Return of the Jedi," "Top Gun," and "RoboCop," only to turn them down for arty, independently produced work, often in the horror genre. Though Cronenberg's best-known film is still 1986's "The Fly," the Canadian director has been making movies for decades, with his most recent work, the adaptation of Don DeLillo's "Cosmopolis" starring Robert Pattinson, likely to debut in Cannes next month.

Inarritu
For Inarritu, joining "Catching Fire" would mark a reunion with his producer from the Academy Award-nominated film "Babel" Jon Kilik, who is producing the "Hunger Game" series along with Nina Jacobson. While “Catching Fire” deals with the heavy themes of rebellion and children-on-children violence, it is still significantly lighter than Inarritu’s most recent work, “Biutiful,” the Javier Bardem-starrer that  chronicled a dying man’s attempts to make amends.

Cuaron entered the blockbuster genre with "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" in 2004, but  despite great reviews didn't stick with the boy wizard beyond the one film. Rather, he took on ambitious fare within the studio system, including Universal Pictures' "Children of Men." The Mexican director recently finished production on "Gravity" for Warner Bros. The film, starring George Clooney and Sandra Bullock, is about a lone survivor of a space mission trying desperately to return to Earth to reunite with his family.

Any of the three men would be a reassuring choice for fans and Collins. And all three auteurs could have compelling takes on the material. Other names are sure to rise to the surface, but Cronenberg, Inarritu and Cuaron should give fans some reassurance that Lionsgate is doing its best to try to preserve their beloved franchise.

-- Nicole Sperling

RELATED:

'Hunger Games' director Gary Ross bows out of sequel

'Catching Fire': Is Gary Ross back to his old ways?

'Hunger Games': Gary Ross on hunting the job, Jennifer Lawrence

Top photo: David Cronenberg. Credit Chris Young/Associated Press

Lower photo: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu. Credit: Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times


'Hunger Games': Should Jennifer Lawrence really look hungrier?

March 28, 2012 |  1:56 pm

Jennifer Lawrence in 'The Hunger Games'

If you ever wondered why so many Hollywood actresses spend so much time having so much plastic surgery before they're, oh, say 35, look no further than the way some film reviewers reacted to Jennifer Lawrence’s appearance in “The Hunger Games.” As Slate’s L. V. Anderson has noted, a surprising number of critics have bodysnarked Lawrence for having a body that is, well, too ample for the role of the film's heroine Katniss Everdeen.

The New York Times’ Manohla Dargis thought Lawrence didn’t look hungry enough for the part, saying “now, at 21, her seductive, womanly figure makes a bad fit for a dystopian fantasy about a people starved into submission.” 

The Hollywood Reporter’s Todd McCarthy suggested that Lawrence was miscast, saying her “lingering baby fat shows here.” And Hollywood Elsewhere’s Jeffrey Wells referred to Lawrence as a “fairly tall, big-boned lady” who’s “too big” for Josh Hutcherson, Katniss’ love interest.

PatrickgoldsteinSo what we to make of this reaction? Is it sexism? Or is it something more complicated? After all, showbiz always has been all about appearances. In fairness, the obsession with slimness isn’t limited simply to actresses.

“Park and Recreation’s” Chris Pratt made no secret of the fact that he flunked his audition to play Oakland A’s first baseman Scott Hatteberg in “Moneyball” because he was too fat. He said after losing 30 pounds he finally got the part. And if I had a dollar for every critic and blogger who made malicious fun of Russell’s Crowe hefty appearance in “State of Play,” I’d have almost as much money as “The Hunger Games” made in its opening weekend.

In other words, the critics certainly aren’t the only ones with a neurotic preoccupation with appearances. It starts with the people who make the movies, who have a thousand reasons to focus on appearances, some of them perfectly reasonable, some of them ridiculously frivolous. At least when it came to “Moneyball,” veracity was an issue. The “Moneyball” filmmakers clearly believed that having an obviously fat first baseman would hurt the film’s authenticity, since real major league first basemen (OK, with the exception of Prince Fielder) don’t look fat. Hatteberg certainly didn’t, so realism was an issue, since Pratt was playing a real-life character.

But Lawrence is playing a fictional character from a book. Does she really have to look exactly the way we perceived her character in the text? Surely by now critics must be accustomed to seeing actors and actresses who often look strikingly different than the characters from a book or a person from real life.

Kate Winslet doesn’t look remotely like the Mildred Pierce character, as described by James M. Cain in his novel “Mildred Pierce,” or for that matter, like Hanna Schmitz in “The Reader.” It’s Winslet’s acting chops that make the portrayals come to life, not her physical resemblance to the characters. Ditto for Meryl Streep's fabulous take on Julia Child in "Julie and Julia."

It’s especially disappointing to see Dargis of all people focusing on Lawrence’s figure, since she has written so eloquently and hilariously — see her withering review of the Farrelly Brothers’ “Hall Pass” — about the casual sexism in modern-day Hollywood films. If Dargis, or any of the other critics, thought Lawrence was miscast in the film, fair enough.

But it would have been simple enough to put the blame on director Gary Ross, the filmmaker who made the call. Lawrence looks like a believable woman, not some curvy, Kardashian-style cartoon. After years of carping about the lack of strong women characters in Hollywood movies, isn’t it time the critics showed a little more respect when one comes along?

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-- Patrick Goldstein

Photo: Jennifer Lawrence, right, in a scene from the film "The Hunger Games." Credit: Murray Close/Lionsgate

 

 


‘Hunger Games’ trailer music may be beginning of new trend

March 23, 2012 |  8:30 am

Jennifer Lawrence and Liam Hemsworth in 'The Hunger Games'

After several months of building buzz, "The Hunger Games" hits theaters today. If you're a fan who's been watching the trailers for months while biding your time for the film, you may be wondering about the preview's powerful music.

The track used in the trailer (the first full-length one released for the movie) is "Deep Shadow," written by T.T.L. (a.k.a. Through The Lens), a collaboration of new-wave Italian musician Tying Tiffany and her producer, Lorenzo Montana. Inspired by industrial and electronic music, the duo started the T.T.L. collaboration to write more music for movies and television. They also composed a track in the trailer for Ralph Fiennes' "Coriolanus," called "It's Here."

A portion of "Deep Shadow" begins one minute and 16 seconds into the "Hunger Games" trailer, and the full track is available for download on the website of the duo's label, ZerOKilled Music.

It's a track that stands out from the typical music composed and licensed for trailers -– music driven by big orchestras and rousing choirs. A mysterious and unearthly East European violin runs through "Deep Shadow," driven by booming percussion and culminating with the rich purring of uilleann pipes-inspired symph.

"We used a lot of ethnic instruments that we found during our tour," Montana said.

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'The Hunger Games': Parents ask, should I take my kids?

March 22, 2012 |  1:56 pm

"The Hunger Games": Click to read the review

With all the hype surrounding the opening of “The Hunger Games,” it wouldn’t be surprising if your 7-year-old was as psyched to see the dystopian sci-fi drama as your mother-in-law. But the “games” of the title here spotlight kid-on-kid homicide, so choosing this PG-13-rated film as a date with your youngster might not be the best parenting move.

If your child is approaching puberty, though, Suzanne Collins’ trilogy of books centered on the futuristic world of Panem might have already been assigned as required reading by his or her middle-school English teacher. The first novel — and subsequent film — introduces readers to an autocratic, futuristic world built from the ashes of North America where a small, and lucky, percent of the population is housed within the sleek confines of the Capitol, and their garish and superficial lifestyles make the Kardashian sisters look introspective.

In contrast, the rest of the nation lives in impoverished outlying districts, subsisting to one degree or another on meager food rations. As an annual reminder of a past failed rebellion, the totalitarian government forces each of the 12 districts to put forward two children, a boy and a girl between the ages of 12 and 18, to compete to the death in the televised Hunger Games.


PHOTOS: Meet the main cast of 'The Hunger Games'

The film touches on many themes relevant to today’s culture, including the Occupy movement and the national obsession with reality television. Here, we offer a brief guide to what age the film is appropriate for and what conversations and concepts it might spark for parent-child discussions.

Who should see “The Hunger Games”?

Scholastic, the publisher of Collins’ trilogy of books, recommends the series for children 12 and older. The violence may not be any more gory than what has been seen in the “Harry Potter” movies but some educational experts suggest that since “Hunger Games” has a more sophisticated take on the delineation between good and evil than “Harry Potter,” children who can’t yet understand those nuances should probably not attend.

“Even if you think about the film as a tale teaching people about good and evil and the reality of death, it’s a little too dark for kids under 12,” said Greg Garrett, an English professor at Baylor University.

Use “The Hunger Games” as an opportunity to discuss America’s obsession with reality television.

The potential extremes of reality television are on display in “The Hunger Games.” Yes, we are rooting for Katniss Everdeen to succeed without sacrificing her soul, but it’s apparent that many of the observers, especially those residing within the Capitol, take pure pleasure in watching children gut each other in an arena.

Director Gary Ross takes the lesson one step further than Collins did in her novel by showing the control room and the adults who are manipulating the arena to make good television. It’s easy to imagine the producers of “The Bachelor” or “Survivor” sitting in a similar room maneuvering their contests — but not to a fatal degree — thus making it the perfect opportunity to discuss with children who may look up to the likes of Snooki and the Situation, how that exploitation is carefully disguised as entertainment.

“When you look at the emotional bloodshed that takes place on these shows and the vicarious enjoyment we take from that — one of Suzanne Collins’ points and I think it comes across very clearly in the movie — there is something demeaning that takes place when we feed off the emotions and the lives of the people we are watching,” Garrett said. “If I spend 10 minutes watching ‘Jersey Shore,’ I don’t only feel like a stupider person but a worse person.”

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Screaming girls, celebs and their kids at 'Hunger Games' premiere

March 13, 2012 | 11:42 am

Hg-trio

The Nokia Theatre is a making a name for itself hosting premieres for teenage girls' filmic obsessions. The official premiere theater for the "Twilight" series, the 7,100-seat house has now added "The Hunger Games" to its charge, and the Monday night event featured a level of high-pitch screaming comparable to that induced by Bella and Edward.

After a long wait for everyone to get seated, director Gary Ross introduced the three leads of "The Hunger Games": Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth. Lawrence, her willowy form wrapped in a floor-length shiny gold gown, anticipated her cue too soon, and appeared briefly from behind the curtain, only to run behind it again while Ross finished his introduction. When she did come out, she nearly took a spill on the stage, apparently tripping on her dress. Hemsworth, a towering Aussie, delivered a mouthful of Outback mumble that was indecipherable even to Ross, who was standing right next to him. On the way off the stage, Hutcherson playfully stepped on the train of Lawrence's dress and she spun around and shook a fist at his nose.

The after-party, held under a tent on the top level of a nearby parking garage at L.A. Live, likely would have impressed even the persnickety denizens of the movie’s mythical capital.

PHOTOS: 'The Hunger Games' premiere

Buffet lines -- steaming with crab cake sliders, mashed potatoes and asparagus -- lined the perimeter of the giant black tent atop L.A. Live’s event deck. A supersize floral arrangement resembling a globe in a moss-covered tree shaded the central dessert table, brimming with butterscotch pudding, chocolate cookies and lime cheesecake cake pops.  And there were more bars than even Haymitch Abernathy could hope for.

But many of the guests were not oohing and aahing over the catering.

"Everyone who has a daughter between 12 and 18 is here," said Shawn Levy, the director of "Real Steel" and "Night at the Museum," as he watched an industry parade of familiar faces, many of them holding hands with young girls teetering on their just-bought high heels.

Phoebe Brown and Serena Sgro, both 14-year-old eighth-graders from Toronto, were on a mission. Hugging copies of “The Hunger Games” books, the two friends were searching the room for their quarry -- the series’ author, Suzanne Collins, and actors Isabelle Furhman, Jack Quaid and Lenny Kravitz -- to complete the set of autographs quickly filling the inside covers of their hardbacks.

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Simon Beaufoy talks 'Salmon Fishing,' 'Hunger Games' sequel

March 9, 2012 | 12:37 pm

Simon Beaufoy, left

Simon Beaufoy is consistently drawn to characters in impossible situations. It’s what led the Oscar-winning screenwriter to such films as “The Full Monty,” “Slumdog Millionaire” and “127 Hours.”

Beaufoy’s latest work, “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen,” features the requisite challenging experience with his two protagonists, played by Emily Blunt and Ewan McGregor, charged with the difficult endeavor of bringing salmon to the arid desert of the Middle East. Yet, what really attracted Beaufoy to the project — based on the novel by Paul Torday — was the mere challenge of adapting it.

“It’s a very strange book,” said Beaufoy in a phone interview from New York on the second leg of his press tour for the film, which opens today. “It’s made up of letters and emails and interviews and Post-it Notes. And it’s many points of view and multiple time frames. It didn’t have a normal novel structure at all.”

On top of that, it’s a novel that combines both satire and romance, two genres rarely compatible on the big screen. “Normally, they are like fire and water. Satire has such a cold edge to it that it kind of kills romance. But the novel had a warmth and generosity despite it being satirical about the politics of the time and the political system,” Beaufoy said. “I just sort of fell in love with the tone of it, really. It’s such an eccentric piece of work with an eccentric tone. I loved the idea of turning it into a movie.”

In the film, directed by Lasse Hallstrom, McGregor plays a stuffy fisheries expert lured into a ridiculous adventure by Blunt’s British investment consultant, whose rich Middle Eastern client wants to bring his favorite sport, fly-fishing, to his native land.

One of the movie's particularly bright spots is Kristin Scott Thomas' turn as the British press secretary. Beaufoy changed the character from a man, as he was in the book, to a woman and for the first time in his career wrote the role with a specific actor in mind.

“When I started out writing many years ago, I quickly discovered that Robert De Niro is busy that week and can’t do your film in Yorkshire. It never works out, it just never works out,” he said. “When I decided to make the press secretary a woman, I thought, I really, really want Kristin Scott Thomas to play this role. And she did, which is just a joy to me and she is very funny at it.”

Beaufoy has often been part of small movies that have become Oscar-winning surprises, but his next project sees him tackle what is arguably the most high-profile writing job of his career: adapting the sequel to the dystopian adventure “The Hunger Games.” Although the Lionsgate film isn't due in theaters until March 23, Beaufoy is already fine-tuning the screenplay for "Catching Fire," based on author Suzanne Collins' second novel in the bestselling series.

Beaufoy was reluctant to share many details about the project, but he did say that he's been charmed by Collins and her knowledge of warfare.

“She’s fascinating,” said Beaufoy. “Her dad was a military expert, historian and lecturer and used to be in the forces. It’s fascinating hearing her talk about the thesis for the three novels: The first is about survival, the second is rebellion and the third is about all-out war. She’s very compelling about all of that.”

Beaufoy was impressed by the boldness of Collins’ writing, specifically her treatment of young people. “The books treat teenagers exactly how teenagers want to be treated — with great seriousness. The situations are life and death and we don’t have to sugarcoat that.”

He went on to say that he believes gender matters very little in the “Hunger Games” saga, which, of course, revolves around the experiences of young heroine Katniss Everdeen (played in the film by Jennifer Lawrence).

“What I really love about the books is it isn’t even up for discussion that she’s a girl," Beaufoy said. "There’s no discussion that she shouldn’t be killing people because she’s a girl, and she shouldn’t be killed because she’s a girl. We’ve done gender politics. This is about life and death. It makes the gender politics seem finicky and not terribly interesting.”

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'Hunger Games': Gary Ross on hunting the job, Jennifer Lawrence

— Nicole Sperling

Photo: Writer Simon Beaufoy with Emily Blunt and Ewan McGregor at the premiere of CBS Films' "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen" in Los Angeles. Credit: Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images


'Hunger Games' trailer shows Katniss in action [video]

November 14, 2011 | 11:41 am

Hungergames

Much to the relief of "Hunger Games" fans worldwide, Lionsgate finally has debuted its first full-fledged trailer for the dystopian adventure due out March 23.

In a few short minutes we meet vulnerable but strong heroine Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and her fellow tribute Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) and see the ostentatious Capitol that serves as a brilliant contrast to the poor, drab environments that make up District 12, from which both Mellark and Everdeen hail.

For "The Hunger Games" uninitiated, Suzanne Collins' bestselling novel depicts a future in which the opulent Capitol rules the planet and the majority of districts are impoverished nations that must serve the central government. As a reminder of a previous uprising against the Capitol, an annual "Hunger Game" contest is put into place in which two youths between ages 12 and 17 from each of the 12 districts are forced to compete in a brutal fight to the death. As the trailer says, only one comes out.

Director Gary Ross seems to have gone all out in capturing the Capitol's opulence with the garish Effie Trinket, played by Elizabeth Banks, cheerfully determining the fates of these impoverished kids. We see quick glimpses of Stanley Tucci as Caesar Flickerman and Wes Bentley as Seneca Crane, and we also get a quick peek at Woody Harrelson as Haymitch, a previous Hunger Games winner, now a useless drunk who serves as Peeta and Katniss' biggest ally.

Katniss' District 12 pal, and unrequited love, Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth), is given prominent placement in the trailer, suggesting that the character who mostly appears in Katniss' memories throughout the book will receive some solid screen time in the upcoming movie.

The trailer will debut on the big screen this weekend in front of "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn -- Part 1."  Check it out below.

 

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-- Nicole Sperling

Photo: Jennifer Lawrence and Liam Hemsworth in "The Hunger Games." Credit: Murray Close /  Lionsgate

 


'Hunger Games' star on 'Colombiana' and life on the set

September 23, 2011 |  2:19 pm

Amandla Stenberg in "Colombiana"
Like a lot of 12-year-old girls, Amandla Stenberg considers herself a big fan of Suzanne Collins' "The Hunger Games" books. But that's where the similarities to average preteen life end.

Stenberg has spent her last few months playing two pivotal athletic film roles --as the reluctant participant in a violent arena game in next year's "Hunger Games" adaptation and as the younger incarnation of Zoe Saldana's avenging heroine in the thriller "Colombiana," which hit theaters in August.

For "Colombiana," in which her character escapes from the thugs who murdered her parents, Stenberg traveled to Mexico, Chicago and New Orleans and acquired some new skills, studying with David Belle, the founder of the climbing-and-jumping-based training known as Parkour.

"We worked on Parkour, running, jumping, climbing ... and he's the creator of Parkour, so I was really honored," Stenberg said. "I [also] had to use my jumping skills to soar through the trees. I did some training for 'Hunger Games,' but not as much as the other characters who really had some big physical demands. I did some running and flips and some tumbling, and that was really fun."

On the North Carolina set of "The Hunger Games," Stenberg said she has bonded with the other members of the ensemble cast led by Jennifer Lawrence as heroine Katniss Everdeen. She compared the feeling of working there to a sleepover.

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