LOS ANGELES -- Jennifer Lawrence never went looking for fame. It found her.
In only a few short years she went from growing up in Kentucky, where she would put on shows for her work-at-home father, to an Oscar nominee and star of a "The Hunger Games" film franchise that is poised to rival "Harry Potter" and "Twilight.
As a fan of the popular Suzanne Collins book "The Hunger Games," Lawrence knew landing the coveted role of Katniss Everdeen would have a big impact on her career. But that is not why she wanted the role.
"I pick scripts that touch me in some way, and I get passionate about making them," Lawrence says. "I also think there is something to be said for having a reason to tell the story. When you are an actor, you are telling a story and putting it out there in the world. I think it's an important question to ask, 'Why do I care about sending this message? Why am I telling this story?' I find scripts where I care about telling the story."
She's a fan of "The Hunger Games" trilogy, calling the story incredibly important for her generation because of how they examine everything from politics to reality TV. Lawrence sees "The Hunger Games" as an important project because it shows what happens when society loses touch with its humanity. It worries her that there is a generation of TV watchers who find entertainment in seeing people's lives fall apart.
For Lawrence, who has had roles in "Winter's Bone," "X-Men: First Class," "The Beaver" and "Like Crazy," taking on "The Hunger Games" has meant some change.
Now that the film is done, Lawrence has a new level of fame. Loyal fans of "The Hunger Games," many teens and preteens, love the books because of Katniss, a strong female character who stands up for her family.
"My fan base has definitely changed. Now, I am a role model for young girls. My language has to change a lot," Lawrence says with a nervous laugh. "Being a role model was definitely something I took into consideration before I did ['The Hunger Games'] because I knew that it would change a lot of decisions -- work wise, personally -- I would make. There would be a lot of changes that I would have to make as far as even my next roles because I knew there were going to be young girls watching what I was doing and emulating that."
With all that's going on around "The Hunger Games," she was thrilled with a chance to ride Batman at Six Flags Mexico after park hours on a recent promotional stop and felt lucky to have a bodyguard willing to get her a cupcake at a popular Los Angeles bakery.
"Those are the two moments when I am like 'Oh my God! Look at my life,' " Lawrence says. "Walking the red carpet at the Oscars was incredible and unbelievable but it wasn't until I was sitting in the Batman roller coaster at Six Flags or in a car about to get a free Sprinkles cupcake that I was like 'I really have a blessed life.' "
One thing's for certain: After playing characters such as Katniss and Ree in "Winter's Bone" -- young women who have to face tremendous odds for family -- young fans won't be seeing Lawrence in that kind of role anytime soon.
"I just wrote an e-mail to my managers that said 'no more white trash with too much responsibility' roles for awhile," Lawrence says with a smile.
The rest of 'The Hunger Games' cast
Plays: Peeta Mellark, representative from District 12.
You know him from: "Journey to the Center of the Earth," "Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant."
On the physical demands of the role: "It was fun in the training center where they had all the different apparatuses to climb on. But honestly, once we were in the games it was tough. The weather was one of the hardest elements because it was so hot all the time. That was one of the bigger challenges -- dealing with the weather."
Plays: Gale Hawthorne, Katniss' hunting partner in District 12.
You know him from: "The Last Song."
On the popularity of "The Hunger Game" books: "This story has many strong characters -- characters you care about who are in terrible situations that you want to see them get out of. As I was reading the books, I felt for these characters, this innocent girl who's taken a bullet for her sister and is now in these horrible games."
Plays: President Snow, politician who uses the games to keep the districts in line.
You know him from: "M*A*S*H," "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," "Kelly's Heroes."
Why he did the movie: "The script came to me. I didn't know anything about the books. I read this script, and I pushed it away from me and sat back and I said, 'This script could make one of the most important films ever.' This script could make a film that actually motivates, energizes a generation of young people -- who from my point of view -- by and large are dormant. It could make them stand up and take political action."
Plays: Effie Trinket, official escort of competitors from District 12.
You know her from: "Scrubs," "Man on a Ledge," "Zack and Miri Make a Porno."
How she got the role: "I was a fan of the books, and there is no other role that I could play in the movie. I loved Effie from the beginning. She's obviously the comic relief in the books, and I like anything where I can be funny. But there's so much more going on. There's so many levels. I felt like I knew what to do with her."
Plays: Cato, competitor from District 2 who becomes Career Pack leader.
You know him from: "Race to Witch Mountain," "The Seeker: The Dark is Rising."
Why he liked playing Cato: "He's a villain in the movie. But, at the end of the day, these are all innocent kids thrown into this crazy fight to survive. You see a little bit of humanity in Cato at the end and it makes you have a little hope in humanity."
Plays: Rue, the tree-climbing District 11 contestant who befriends Katniss.
You know her from: "Columbiana."
On her audition: "My mom took a pair of my old khakis and a T-shirt and went in the backyard and rolled them in the dirt and got grass stains all over them and got some twigs and rocks and put them in my pockets and in my hair so it was very Rue-like. Like I had been trying to survive in the woods for a couple of weeks and that worked."
The reporter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (559) 441-6355. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com.