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Social commentary isn’t mutually exclusive from blockbuster entertainment – look at the last two Batman movies if you need evidence of how a film can subtly make observations about the times in which we live. But remarkably, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire manages to make commentary and entertainment one and the same: further expanding the world and the narrative of the first film, Katniss Everdeen’s (Jennifer Lawrence) victory at the Hunger Games has inadvertently spawned a rebellion among citizens in the districts, leading President Snow (Donald Sutherland) to quell their unrest with the distraction of celebrity gossip, or when that fails, violent class-war reprisals.
Lawrence, who reprises her role from the first film, said during a press conference that she loves the franchise – and the source material – because it inspires a sense of social awareness and personal responsibility. “I was personally very excited when I first started reading these books just that there was such a big series that young adults would be reading, and something that was actually very important,” she said at a recent press conference in Los Angeles for the film. “I think it’s a wonderful message to show how powerful one voice can be.”
“It’s very easy as a society for us to just kind of follow the feet in front of us and history does kind of repeat itself,” she observed. “And I think it’s an important message for our younger generation to see how important they are in shaping our society and our future.”
The acclaimed actress earned an Oscar in February for her performance in David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook, and her continued success in the Hunger Games franchise virtually guarantees her status as a Hollywood luminary. But the 23-year-old Lawrence claims not to take herself too seriously, even if she’s grateful for the impact that she can have on other people’s lives. “When you are an actor you never think, ‘My job is very important, what I do is important for the world and people,’ I just love doing it,” she insisted, her voice breaking as she recalled an encounter with a young fan.
“I remember being on the first movie and meeting an extra that was covered in scars because she had been burned,” she remembered. “I remember her coming up to me and saying, she didn’t like going to school and then she read The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, and then she was proud of her scars and her friends called her the girl on fire. I just cried and remember calling my mom and saying, ‘I get it.’ Sometimes it seems pointless because you are covered in make-up and your hair is in curlers, but sometimes there are lives that you can touch.”
Lawrence’s career continues to grow at an almost exponential rate, even as her impact on audiences seems to mirror that of Katniss on the population of Panem. But even with so many wonderful opportunities to look forward to, she confesses that she would be grateful to be remembered only for Hunger Games, even if she’s not quite ready to acquiesce exclusively to that association. “We were obviously surprised by the success — how could we not be? And if I was going to be identified for a character for the rest of my life? That is a hard thing to think about,” she admitted.
“But I love this character and I am proud of her,” she continued. “And I would be proud to be associated with this movie and this character for the rest of my life.”
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire releases in theaters November 22.