By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist March 3, 2011 at 2:25AM
We're getting older, and we're no longer afraid to admit that. However, it does come with certain disadvantages. Our ears have aged to that point that we're now unable to hear Justin Bieber's voice, for instance. We were offered a role in a Neal Moritz-produced remake of "Cocoon" the other day. And, perhaps most importantly for this profession, we can no longer distinguish the various young-adult-novel properties that are vying to replace "Twilight" as the teen-franchise-du-jour.
"Incarceron?" "Mortal Instruments?" The one where Jeff Bridges is going to play a witchfinder? All the same to us. Luckily, the one that we can remember is the one that's getting the most buzz: Lionsgate's Gary Ross-helmed adaptation of "Hunger Games," a dystopian, teen-friendly take on "Battle Royale." Hell, we even threw out some casting suggestions a little while back. With the start-date rapidly approaching, some firm word has now arrived on who might take the series' key role; Katniss Everdeen, the poor sixteen-year-old girl from District 12 who volunteers to compete in the nationally televised gladiatorial fight-to-the-death that the plot revolves around.
Hailee Steinfeld, who's been much-touted for the role since her storming debut in "True Grit," confirmed to MTV on the Oscars' red carpet that she'd met with director Gary Ross about the project, while her fellow Oscar-nominee Jennifer Lawrence is said to be the front-runner for the part by Lainey Gossip. Now, Variety has confirmed that both names are in contention, and have added 14-year-old "Little Miss Sunshine" star Abigail Breslin (herself an Oscar nominee for that film) to the mix.
Significantly, the trade papers, like Lainey Gossip, suggest that Lawrence (who was also linked to the Bridges witch-slayer project, "The Seventh Son") is at the head of the pack, saying that the "Winter's Bone" star has "generated the most interest." However, things are by no means set -- no offers have gone out, and Ross clearly needs to make a decision about the age of his central character -- Lawrence is 20, which would make the violence and sexuality in the book more palatable, for sure, but it also risks robbing the tale of its power. On the other end of the scale, Steinfeld and Breslin are both 14, two years younger than Katniss in the books, and co-stars in that age range are trickier to find.
Ross has to cast the lead first, in order to make the other roles fit, age-wise, but he's doesn't have an infinite amount of time -- the film's set for release next March, and both Steinfeld and Lawrence are likely to be in demand; the former told MTV that "there's a lot of projects that we're looking at at the moment," while Lawrence has been linked to not only "The Seventh Son," but also Oliver Stone's "Savages," plus she presumably has press commitments to fulfill on "X-Men: First Class" in the summer. We'd expect a decision on the casting very soon: "Hunger Games" is set to open just over a year from now, on March 30th, 2012, facing off head-to-head with the sequel to "Clash of the Titans."