Jennifer Lawrence: Ahead of the game

Jennifer Lawrence: Ahead of the game

You typically hear Jennifer Lawrence before you see her, her arrival often heralded by a burst of raucous laughter or unscripted flash of goofiness that the ear can pick up from 20 paces away.

The eruption of noise outside a room where Life! and other reporters are waiting to speak to the 23-year-old about her new film, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, is therefore unmistakable.

Also distinctive is the unusual energy - youthfulness coupled with a composure beyond her years - with which she handles the spotlight.

And what a spotlight it is, especially in the wake of Lawrence's Best Actress Oscar win this year for her role in the comedy-drama Silver Linings Playbook.

Combined with the bankability of The Hunger Games franchise - the first instalment of which earned more than US$690million (S$860 million)) worldwide last year - the acclaim makes her practically a unicorn among Hollywood's younger set. Few actors can claim to have both critical and commercial credibility on this scale.

But accompanying all that is an intense scrutiny of everything from her love life to her appearance - something that she has grown weary of, just three years after bursting onto the scene with a precocious Oscar-nominated performance in the gritty indie Winter's Bone (2010).

She tells reporters that she cannot believe, for instance, the amount of media coverage devoted to her new pixie-cut hairstyle.

"I didn't read any of it. Even just hearing about it is just so stupid. I don't think I could take the stupidity of actually reading it. I can't handle that much stupid in one day," she says.

Her personal life is also the subject of endless tabloid speculation, particularly her on-off dalliance with her X-Men: First Class (2011) co-star Nicholas Hoult, and rumoured off-screen chemistry with Bradley Cooper, her leading man in Silver Linings Playbook and two other upcoming films, American Hustle and Serena.

In The Hunger Games films and the best-selling Suzanne Collins science-fiction books they are based on, her character, Katniss Everdeen, is also thrust into the spotlight.

She is a plucky girl who volunteers for a gladiator-style fight to the death that the totalitarian government forces young citizens to participate in.

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