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Jennifer Lawrence almost passed on "Hunger Games"

The Associated Press, Sunday, September 9, 2012, 8:27am (PDT)

TORONTO (AP) — As Jennifer Lawrence prepares to start shooting the next installment of "The Hunger Games," she's thinking back to how she nearly turned down the role that's made her one of Hollywood's biggest stars.

Lawrence says she spent about three days figuring she would say no to playing Katniss Everdeen, the hero of the action franchise set in a post-apocalyptic North America where teens are forced to fight in televised death matches.

The 22-year-old actress said she had envisioned remaining where she started, in smaller independent films, and that "just saying yes to this one thing could completely change my life, and I don't know if it's going to be for the better," Lawrence said in an interview over the weekend at the Toronto International Film Festival, where her comic drama "Silver Linings Playbook" premiered.

Lawrence already had a taste of studio life with the ensemble superhero tale "X-Men: First Class," a role that came her way because of "Winter's Bone," the 2010 low-budget Ozarks crime tale that earned her a best actress Academy Awards nomination.

She ultimately agreed to do "The Hunger Games" for the same reasons she does indie flicks — and because of some straight talk from her mom.

"She was like, 'You're being a hypocrite, because you always say you don't care about the size of the movies.' Because when I was doing indies, everybody was always like, 'Why don't you ever do a studio?' I'd say, 'Because I don't care about the size of the movie. I care about the story,'" Lawrence said. "And my mom was like, 'Now you have a story you like, and you're not going to do it because of the size.'

"The truth was, in the bottom of my heart, I wanted to do it. I wanted to play this character. I was scared of the aftermath, but you can't say no to things because you're scared. You just have to go for it."

Lawrence, who also stars in the horror tale "House at the End of the Street" opening Sept. 21, is trying to fit in smaller films between her busy schedule of "Hunger Games" and "X-Men" sequels.

In "Silver Linings Playbook," she plays a bit of a head case, an unstable young widow who falls for another troubled spirit, a man (Bradley Cooper) fresh out of a psychiatric ward after turning violent when he caught his wife cheating on him.

Directed by David O. Russell, the film co-stars Robert De Niro, Julia Stiles and Chris Tucker. "Silver Linings Playbook" opens in theaters in November.

On Monday, Lawrence begins shooting "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire," part two in author Suzanne Collins' trilogy. The third book, "Mockingjay," is being split into two films, the same way the "Harry Potter" and "Twilight" franchises handled their finales.

Lawrence had reservations about breaking "Mockingjay" into two parts — "until I heard how much money I would be getting," she said with a long laugh.

She said she initially thought it would be better to do the finale in a single film. When she got the news that it would be done in two parts, Lawrence was in the middle of shooting "The Hunger Games," and she re-read the books and thought about how much had to be left out in adapting the first one.

"You want everything in there, but you don't have enough room, and you're trying to decide what's going to get cut and what isn't," Lawrence said. "So it was a relief on the last one to know that we don't really have to cut anything. We have enough time, we have enough room to really tell this story to the fullest, and we don't need to cut anything.

"So that's my artistic answer. It's a very diplomatic answer. But what I'm really thinking is yacht, yacht. My own island."

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