Life of the party

Josh Hutcherson is about to answer my question about being chased by teen girls when Jennifer Lawrence picks up my Galaxy Note 2.

"What is this?" she asks aggressively.

A phone.

"This is a computer," she replies with a puzzled look.

I try to explain that big phones (mine has a 5.5-inch screen) are big in Asia.

She puts it to her ear to try it on for size and says: "This is big everywhere!"

Well, so is she.

The 23-year-old star of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, which opens here on Nov 21, is holding court at a roundtable interview at the Four Seasons Los Angeles.

The film is the second in the four-movie franchise based on Suzanne Collins' books of the same name.

The first movie grossed more than US$690 million (S$860m) worldwide.

There are parallels to be drawn between the US actress and her Hunger Games character Katniss Everdeen, especially with Catching Fire.

OSCAR FAME

At the start of the movie, Katniss is back home in District 12, struggling to keep her life as normal as possible.

But she is thrust into the public eye again for a victory tour with fellow Hunger Games victor Peeta (Hutcherson).

Lawrence herself has often been in the limelight of late.

She picked up a Best Actress Oscar earlier this year for her role as a manic, depressed widow in the romantic dramedy Silver Linings Playbook.

"My career definitely benefited from it," she says of winning her Oscar.

She has filmed three movies in the past 18 months, including superhero blockbuster X-Men: Days Of Future Past (reprising her role as mutant Mystique) and American Hustle, which reunites her with her Silver Linings Playbook director David O Russell and co-star Bradley Cooper.

"Fortunately, my life at home, my friends, my personal life, this little bubble that I've created for myself, that hasn't changed at all."

She says she's unencumbered by the pressures of winning an Oscar at such a young age - she's the second-youngest Best Actress winner.

"The only time I do (feel pressure) is when I mess up or forget my lines, or don't know what scene I'm shooting.

"Then Woody (Harrelson, who plays her mentor Haymitch) will be like, (puts on a gravelly voice) 'Better give your Oscar back'."

DUMB SIDE OF FAME

When someone asks if she felt it was weird that her new hairdo, which she showed off last week, made waves on the Internet, she shakes her head.

"That's not weird, it's just stupid. It's dumb."

While she thinks some things about her fame are ridiculous, she doesn't hate the spotlight as much as Katniss does.

She can't, because she really likes to talk.

Lawrence, who is paired with Hutcherson for all her interviews, is, shall we say, disruptive - prone to interrupting journalists, Hutcherson and even herself to make random comments like "your handwriting is beautiful" or "I bet your phone holds battery pretty well".

Asked why she cut her hair, Lawrence pretends to be a diva: "Josh is now taking all questions about my hair."

Which he did, the poor guy, acting like the well-behaved second fiddle Peeta. He recites line for line her much-repeated explanation about wanting to chop off her hair that was fried from being dyed and permed so often.

A journalist from China offers a rumour she heard that the pixie crop was inspired by controversial US singer-actress Miley Cyrus.

"Well," she says with a dramatic pause. "That's the worst thing ever. I feel like I just got stabbed with an ice pick."

This, of course, is just classic Lawrence, as all her cast mates will tell us.

The joker, the life of the party, the one who "gets everyone going", as actor Liam Hemsworth, who plays her love interest Gale, describes her.

DEALING WITH FAME

But she's not just that.

Veteran Canadian actor Donald Sutherland, who plays the villainous President Snow out to eliminate Katniss, spent a good chunk of his interview talking about her.

"She is able, instinctively, to take in all the information (for a role) and become a vessel for truth," he says, while comparing her brilliance to that of Joan of Arc's.

Lawrence never gets to speak about her method because now, everyone wants to know about how she's dealing with fame.

A question about seeing her face on billboards all over Los Angeles sets off another ramble.

"The first time I saw one, I was like, 'Come on, feel something', and I just didn't. I think it's because it's not me, it's the character I'm playing. But if it was a picture of me going to the grocery store, that would be weirder... Wait, what was your question again?"

A journalist says it is a perfect answer.

She puts on a cartoonish smug face.

"I knew that."

Chat with the director

ON JENNIFER LAWRENCE:

"She's a fantastic girl, really down-to-earth and fun to be around every day on set. She's a phenomenal actress and works unlike anybody I've ever seen before. She is very instinctual. She goes from the gut. She doesn't have to stay in character all day, she doesn't have to talk about it endlessly. She just kind of does it and it's an amazing thing to see."

Francis Lawrence (I Am Legend, Water For Elephants, Constantine) takes over directing the franchise from Gary Ross. Catching Fire is his biggest project to date. He will also helm the two-part sequel Mockingjay.

ON THE SOUNDTRACK:

"It started with Coldplay. Chris Martin really liked the material and wanted to write a song for The Hunger Games. It was really beautiful and fit perfectly... Thematically, it really hit the responsibility that Katniss is about to wear on her shoulders going into the next movie."

ON THE SECOND MOVIE BEING DARKER THAN THE FIRST:

"I think what I'm not interested in is gore. I'm interested in the impact of violence, the emotional aspect of it, the loss because of it. Most of the violence (in the movie) is off-screen, off-camera."

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