In this image released by Lionsgate, Jennifer Lawrence portrays Katniss Everdeen in a scene from "The Hunger Games," opening on Friday, March 23, 2012. (AP Photo/Lionsgate, Murray Close)
NEW YORK -- Jennifer Lawrence was already on Hollywood's radar after earning rave reviews and an Oscar nomination for her role in the 2010 film "Winter's Bone." But the actress has become a veritable household name by getting cast as Katniss Everdeen in the "The Hunger Games."
In case you've been on Mars or something, the movie out today is based on the first book in a best-selling trilogy by Suzanne Collins about children picked by drawing to compete in televised death fights.
Lawrence's Katniss ends up being one of the unlucky ones sent to compete.
To prepare for the role, the 21-year-old Lawrence had to undergo rigorous training that included running, climbing, combat, yoga and archery.
In a recent interview, she said the hardest part about playing Katniss was to maintain her vulnerability, despite all that training.
"She's got to be strong and she's a fighter and she obviously wins," Lawrence said, "but I didn't want it to look she kind of went into the arena thinking like she had it." The audience needs to feel what she is feeling -- "like she could die at any second," the actress added.
Off-screen, Lawrence admitted to feeling less-than-confident during her fight scenes.
"Isabelle Fuhrman, who plays (fellow "Games" contestant) Clove, is tiny. She's little but my God she's strong. I mean she beat the hell out of me," admitted Lawrence.
"(Director) Gary Ross had to keep calling 'Cut' because she's supposed to tackle me but I would be waiting there shaking like this and the next day I felt like I had been in a car accident. I mean she really beat the hell out of me when you see that scene. There are hardly any stunts."
The actress said she was aware when taking the role that it would follow her but she's OK with that.
"I realized if you're going to have something to be known for it should be something that's amazing and something to be proud of, like this," she said. "I'll always be proud to be known as a character like this. She's amazing."
Lawrence also "totally" understands the hype and passion from fans surrounding the film's release because she counts herself as a huge "Harry Potter" fan.
"If (the cast) had ever come to Kentucky, I would've been screaming, painted posters, painted face, witch clothes like the whole thing," she laughed.
"The Hunger Games" also stars Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth. Lenny Kravitz, Elizabeth Banks, Donald Sutherland and Woody Harrelson have supporting roles.