'Hunger Games': Jennifer Lawrence emerges as front-runner for Katniss

jennifer-lawrence-oscars-gi.jpgThe big-screen adaptation of "The Hunger Games" is getting close to finding its Katniss.

"Winter's Bone" star Jennifer Lawrence is on the verge of being offered the lead role in the movie, based on Suzanne Collins' hugely successful YA novel. He name has often been mentioned in connection with the part, and Variety is reporting that she's emerged as the top choice over the likes of fellow Oscar nominee Hailee Steinfeld and Abigail Breslin.

Lawrence is 20, four years older than Katniss at the start of "Hunger Games." Playing a few years younger is nothing new in Hollywood, and Variety also notes that by casting someone a little older than the character, producer Lionsgate will have a bigger pool from which to choose the movie's male lead, Peeta Mellark.

Collins is co-writing the "Hunger Games" screenplay with Billy Ray ("Breach," "State of Play"). Gary Ross ("Pleasantville") is set to direct.

Lawrence will follow up her Oscar-nominated role in "Winter's Bone" with "The Beaver," the long-delayed Mel Gibson movie that hits theaters in May, and "X-Men: First Class" in June, in which she plays Mystique.

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