'The Hunger Games' Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth: Lionsgate defends casting

hunger-games-trio-getty.jpgWhen the-powers-that-be behind "The Hunger Games" announced the casting of Josh Hutcherson as Peeta and Liam Hemsworth as Gale, fans of the book series had a mixed reaction. We saw people lamenting everything from their acting abilities to their hair colors to their heights to their potential chemistry with lead Jennifer Lawrence.

Lionsgate Films clearly felt the backlash, as they've now released a defensive statement about the surprising choices. It features quotes from director Gary Ross, novel author Suzanne Collins, and producer Nina Jacobson.

Here's what they had to say --

Director Gary Ross: "When I read the book, I thought Peeta would be the hardest role to cast, and I feel so lucky that we found someone who embodies every aspect of such a complex character. I can't wait to work with Josh."

"Hunger Games" author Suzanne Collins: "I was fortunate enough to be in the room with Gary Ross when Josh came in to audition. Three lines into the read I knew he'd be fantastic. Josh totally captured Peeta's temperament, his sense of humor and his facility for language. I'm thrilled to have him aboard."

Producer Nina Jacobson: "Gale is a young man who uses words very sparingly, so the onus was on the actor we cast to capture him by showing, not telling. This was accomplished so beautifully in Suzanne's writing, and Liam was able to translate it so naturally to the screen. At the same time Gale's journey across the three books transforms him, and Liam's performance left no doubt that he would take us there."

What do you think, "Hunger Games" fans? Are your fears eased?