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Some 'Hunger Games' critics say Jennifer Lawrence was too 'big' to play Katniss

Caesar Flickerman (Stanley Tucci) and Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) in THE HUNGER GAMES.
Caesar Flickerman (Stanley Tucci) and Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) in THE HUNGER GAMES.Lionsgate

While Jennifer Lawrence's acting performance in "The Hunger Games" was generally praised, some critics are saying she was too large to play Katniss Everdeen, a teen from a starving futuristic land, who must hunt every day to keep her family fed.

In her March 22 New York Times review,  Manohla Dargis wrote, “A few years ago Ms. Lawrence might have looked hungry enough to play Katniss, but now, at 21, her seductive, womanly figure makes a bad fit for a dystopian fantasy about a people starved into submission."

Lawrence's weight comes in for some mention in other reviews as well, though none as harsh as the Times' writeup. Todd McCarthy's review for The Hollywood Reporter praises Lawrence's acting but points out her "lingering baby fat." And on Hollywood Elsewhere, Jeffrey Wells focuses on Lawrence's size as compared to co-star Josh Hutcherson, calling her  “a fairly tall, big-boned lady,” and writing that "male romantic figures have to be at least be as tall as their female partners." 

Given that the movie's plot involves a starved nation, some see a point to the comments.

A Buzzfeed reader going by Pacer points out specific references from "The Hunger Games" book, saying, “Jennifer Lawrence is stunning and in no way, shape or form should she be considered fat, but I do understand the criticism. I know that Katniss was hunting to feed herself in District 12 so she wasn't exactly starving, and that the tributes were fattened up before they went into the arena, but in the actual Hunger Games all the tributes are starving and lose a lot of weight.” 

Lawrence herself is quoted in New York Magazine as telling British Glamour she purposely did not diet for the film in order to make Katniss a more fearsome competitor. "Katniss is meant to be a hunter; she’s meant to be scary," she said." "Kate Moss running at you with a bow and arrow isn’t scary."

 Some critics note that Lawrence's male co-stars don't come in for the same pound-by-pound scrutiny.

“If critics are going to pick on a 21-year-old woman for not being skinny enough for a fantasy film, why haven’t they been more consistent in their critiques of actors’ bodies?" writes LV Anderson at "I haven’t seen much concern about Liam Hemsworth’s muscular frame, even though his character in 'The Hunger Games' occupies the same food-strapped world as Katniss.” 

Lawrence’s co-star, Stanley Tucci told Buzzfeed, "Big-boned? (Those critics) should go make their own movie … that's ridiculous."

"I like her," celebrity style expert Robert Verdi told "I would argue that if they're working folks, they're going to be a little bit more robust and beefy. I think [you] can actually be working class and be stocky."

Even Sports Illustrated model Anne Vyalitsyna jumped in to the fray, telling, "It doesn't matter what people think. She's such a confident girl in general [and] that kind of shows on the screen and it inspires people. She's sending a really great message. At the end of the day, she's not big at all, so I don't know what people are talking about. She's playing a role that's very fit."

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