Jennifer Lawrence says she was asked to lose weight to star in ‘The Hunger Games’

Jennifer Lawrence in a black dress with sheer sleeves and pearls
Jennifer Lawrence attends the “Causeway” premiere in London on Oct. 8.
(Vianney Le Caer / Invision / Associated Press)

Since her breakout role as Katniss Everdeen in “The Hunger Games,” Jennifer Lawrence has been outspoken about body image. But in a new conversation with Viola Davis, the “Causeway” actor shared that she was asked to lose weight for the lead role.

“Those books were huge, and I knew that the audience was children. I remember the biggest conversation was, ‘How much weight are you going to lose?’” the Oscar winner told Davis in an interview published Wednesday as part of Variety’s “Actors on Actors” series.

For Lawrence, “The Hunger Games” was a major moment for breaking barriers and bringing strong women to the screen. She told Davis that “nobody had ever put a woman in the lead of an action movie because it wouldn’t work” before the hit YA action series, which was based on Suzanne Collins’ book franchise.


Remember when the first installment of “The Hunger Games” came out and critics said Jennifer Lawrence didn’t look hungry enough to play heroine Katniss Everdeen?

Nov. 13, 2013

With Katniss Everdeen, heroine of the hunger-stricken dystopia Panem, Lawrence said she had an “awesome responsibility.” She added that she wanted fans to relate to Katniss and not feel alienated “because they’re not a certain weight.”

“I can’t let that seep into my brain either,” she added.

Before the first “Hunger Games” film premiered in 2012, detractors criticized Lawrence for her “baby fat” and “womanly figure,” deeming her inappropriate for the lead character. A year later, she pushed back against the haters and said “Hunger Games” was an opportunity to promote a healthy body image.

‘Hunger Games’: Star’s ‘baby fat’ shouldn’t eclipse the film’s message

March 28, 2012

“It’s better to look strong and healthy,” she told the BBC in 2013.

Elsewhere in the conversation with “The Woman King” star, Lawrence said her time as Mystique on “X-Men: Days of Future Past” was a less than uplifting experience.

“It’s hard to not have that perception of the movie that’s like, ‘Oh, well, it’s just one of those,’” she said. “Especially when you’re painted blue with scales on your face. If you start thinking, ‘I look ridiculous, I feel ridiculous.’ There’s nowhere to go.”

Despite her success with “Hunger Games,” Lawrence said being in the spotlight eventually resulted in her acting break.


“I could feel my craft suffering. And I didn’t know how to fix it. I was scrambling, trying to fix it by saying yes to this movie and then trying to counteract it with that movie,” the “Joy” actor said. “And not realizing that what I had to do was no movies until something spoke to me.”

Jennifer Lawrence stars with Brian Tyree Henry in ‘Causeway,’ Lila Neugebauer’s drama about a U.S. Army vet recovering from a brain injury.

Oct. 27, 2022

She also spoke to Davis about motherhood, beauty and why she isn’t the hugest fan of press tours. “I’m always very self-conscious of my intellect because I didn’t finish school,” Lawrence said.

“You’re highly articulate,” Davis replied.