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Katniss Everdeen: The evolution of a hero

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay  - Part 2 brings the global motion picture phenomenon to its thrilling and emotionally powerful last chapter as the stakes for Katniss Everdeen escalate from surviving the most deadly games ever devised to setting the course of the future. Mockingjay - Part 2 builds on the momentum of each previous chapter in the blockbuster series to reach a fever pitch of both emotion and action, bringing Katniss full circle from the dismayed girl caught in a dystopian nightmare to leading the charge to remake her nation. In this final chapter, with all the Districts united against the Capitol for the first time, tomorrow itself is on the line. For Katniss to truly be herself, she realizes she must now fully take on the indomitable Mockingjay spirit in a last stand to set things right.  Says director Francis Lawrence: “In this film, Katniss takes the action back into her own hands and goes after Snow personally. The movie really opens up as we go deep into the streets of the Capitol, coming full circle from Katniss’s journey there in the first film.  There’s more action, more scope, more emotion and most of all, this film brings the story to its moving conclusion.”

Katniss Everdeen: The evolution of a hero – in the words of the cast & creators

In four increasingly complex film performances, Academy Award® winner Jennifer Lawrence has taken Katniss Everdeen through a pendulum’s worth of changes. She has metamorphosed from a disarmed girl trying to save herself and then her family to a deeply reluctant rebel hero and now finally, to a sharply-honed, fiercely determined leader determined to shatter a ruthless society for the good of all. Lawrence says she has enjoyed growing with the ever-evolving yet steadfastly true-to-herself character and is thrilled to bring Katniss to her apex in Mockingjay – Part 2. 

“This is the chapter when Katniss really starts to believe in the impact that she can have,” Lawrence comments.  “She’s always been so reluctant and has always found herself in situations where all she can do is try to survive, but now she’s turning the tables.  I was excited for her to finally take her place as a leader.  At the end of Mockingjay – Part 1, she was kind of numb, and genuinely unsure if she wanted to go on. In Mockingjay – Part 2 she starts seeing the bigger picture.  She’s looking beyond her own personal losses and gains to focus on making a better future.” 

Adds producer Nina Jacobson, who along with producer Jon Kilik, has been there from the start:  “For the first three movies, Katniss feels as if someone else is writing the script of her life and she has no choice but to either act or react to that script. In this final film, she makes her decision: that Snow must die and she’s going to get him.  You see her character fully in control now, fully realized.” 

Josh Hutcherson, who as Peeta has also gone through dizzying changes from a baker’s son to Katniss’ closest ally to a tormented instrument of the Capitol, says of Katniss’s journey: “What was a story about a girl who wants to protect her family and survive has now become the story of a girl who creates what once seemed an impossible uprising.  It’s the final push that culminates in a new world.” 

Yet even as she turns towards the future, the past weighs on Katniss.  A constant reminder of the high costs of her journey is there in Peeta’s continuing inability to see Katniss for who she really is – and still harboring the relentlessly violent thoughts implanted by the Capitol towards her.  Observes Jennifer Lawrence:  “Somebody being brainwashed to think that you’re an evil mutt is a hell of a strain to put on a relationship. They have to start over.” 

Nina Jacobson notes that no matter what terrifying things Peeta says or does, Katniss cannot deny her urge to protect him – nor her hope to reconnect with him.  “She has her moments with Gale in this film, but even he can see through her,” Jacobson muses. “Her heart is stuck on Peeta.  She can’t let him go, even now, and I think that’s pretty poignant.”  

All her relationships are still shifting, but Katniss has a newfound clarity, including when it comes to Gale. “It becomes clear between them that no matter what they might have, as long as Peeta is in the state he’s in, Katniss is never going to be able to let Peeta go,” Jennifer Lawrence says.

Katniss also begins to see President Coin in a more illuminating light.  “Katniss’s relationship with Coin has become a bit more complicated and strained,” Jennifer notes.  “Katniss is starting to fear that she’s seeing a lot of similar traits develop in Coin that she’s seen in President Snow.”

Now, Katniss’s concerns are being channeled directly into action – taking the character for the first time into all-out combat beyond the controlled confines of an arena. “The action scenes in Mockingjay – Part 2 are incredible,” Jennifer says. “Some of it was difficult – shooting in wet tunnels, in and out of the water and doing fight choreography with 20 pounds of waterlogged gear – but it was totally worth it because it is going to look fantastically real for audiences.”  Raising the stakes, Katniss’s little sister Prim, long her motivation to fight against the Capitol, is now a medic in the battle zone.

It all brings Katniss to the denouement of her world-changing tale. Concluding the series is bittersweet for Jennifer Lawrence, but she is intrigued to leave Katniss at the most promising juncture of her life.   “She’s started to see the beauty in humanity in this film,” Jennifer observes. “In the beginning she had a short view of the way things are because of her upbringing. She did not have much hope then, and she felt alone for a lot of her life.  During everything that has happened – in the Games, in District 13, in the Capitol at the end of this story – she found herself more and more connected to people.”

Jennifer has tremendous gratitude for being granted the chance to embody Katniss.  “I have loved being a part of a film that sparks some really cool conversations,” she concludes.  “It’s been an incredible chapter in my life, and the way the films have resonated with people has been amazing.” 

For director Francis Lawrence, part of the beauty of Katniss is that no matter how much her world – and her responsibilities – have changed, her fundamental values have never budged.  “At her core, a part of Katniss has remained the same,” he observes.  “Each of the movies has presented a complex character journey, with very different complications, but she is that same very real girl who still just wants to protect her loved ones.”

That has come alive through Jennifer’s almost supernatural channeling of the character, says the director.   “All along, Jennifer has had amazing instincts and on each film, it’s been surprising to see what she does.  This final journey is no different,” he explains.  “It is a new kind of emotional journey for Katniss.  She is determined to rectify what was done to Peeta, what was done to her personally, and what was done to the people of the Districts – and Jennifer dives into that.” 

Nina Jacobson sums up:  “Jen has always brought a grounded emotional honesty to the role.  But now she shifts, turning defiance, grief and rage into action and leadership.  She does that extraordinarily well.  Her performance in this film shows the complexity of a character who is searching for peace and happiness, but will always carry the scars of what we’ve seen her experience.”