Jennifer Lawrence criticised over comments about Hunger Games and women in action movies

8 December 2022, 12:54

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By Sam Prance

"I remember when I was doing Hunger Games, nobody had ever put a woman in the lead of an action movie because it wouldn't work."

Jennifer Lawrence says she was the first woman to ever star as the lead in an action film when she did The Hunger Games.

There's no denying that The Hunger Games is one of the biggest franchises of all time. Fans couldn't get enough of Jennifer Lawrence's portrayal of Katniss Everdeen and the fictional dystopian universe of Panem. In fact, the films were so popular that a movie based on the prequel, A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, is in development and set to come out in 2023.

However, before The Hunger Games became a global sensation, film producers doubted that it could even be a success.

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Jennifer Lawrence says no one had made a woman the lead of an action movie before Hunger Games
Jennifer Lawrence says no one had made a woman the lead of an action movie before Hunger Games. Picture: Amy Sussman/Getty Images, FlixPix / Alamy Stock Photo

Talking to Viola Davis about the incredible critical and commercial performance of The Woman King in Variety's Actors on Actors, Jennifer explained: "I just love seeing stories like that. I remember when I was doing Hunger Games, nobody had ever put a woman in the lead of an action movie because it wouldn't work."

Jennifer added: "We were told girls and boys can both identify with a male lead but boys cannot identify with a female lead and it just makes me so happy every single time I see a movie come out that just blows through every single one of those beliefs."

Jennifer ended saying: "It proves that it is just a lie to keep certain people out of the movies, to keep certain people in the same positions they've always been in. It's just amazing to watch it happen and watch you at the helm."

Jennifer Lawrence & Viola Davis | Actors on Actors

While Jennifer's comments were initially met with praise, the quote about being the first woman to ever lead an action film quickly went viral line with people pointing out that Jennifer and The Hunger Games were not the first.

One person tweeted: "Jennifer Lawrence saying that she was the first woman to ever lead an action movie is so disrespectful to these icons," alongside photos of the likes of Sigourney Weaver, Uma Thurman, Michelle Yeoh, Pam Grier and Angelina Jolie.

Another wrote: "We have to acknowledge film history and how these actors have paved the way for film heroines today."

However, people have also pointed out that Jennifer's comments were likely in reference to young adult movies and that the importance of what she said about studios doubting that female-led action movies can be a success needs to change. On top of that, people have pointed out that there are still very few female-led action films.

One person tweeted: "Look, I’m not saying that Jennifer Lawrence quote isn’t funny, but the fact that everyone is like “oh yeah what about this very specific handful of female led examples of action movies that are decades apart” sort of feels like maybe that isn’t the slam dunk they think it is."

Another added: "Jennifer Lawrence isn’t accurate about the female action lead never having been done but I bet she’s accurate that she heard from execs it shouldn’t be done. That bit sounds pretty real".

Elsewhere in the interview, Jennifer revealed that she was asked to lose weight for The Hunger Games. She said: "There were so many different opinions on what is this, basically this action figure for children, gonna look like. I remember the biggest conversation, of course, this was pre-#MeToo and I'm a woman so, it was weight, and you know, 'How much are you gonna lose?'"

Jennifer then explained that she decided it was important for her not to diet for the film. She added: "I don't know if I want all of the girls who are gonna dress up as Katniss to feel like they can't because they're not a certain weight. I can't let that seep into my brain either."

As it stands, Jennifer is yet to comment any further on her action movie remarks. We shall update you if she does.

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