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The Hunger Games' Intense Training Permanently Altered Jennifer Lawrence's Body

Due to a variety of reasons ranging from the streaming- and COVID-accelerated dwindling of moviegoing culture to the increasing domination of franchises and IP-driven blockbusters, there are precious few actors nowadays who can truly draw crowds into multiplexes on just the promise of getting to see them in action for a couple of hours. Furthermore, most of the sorts of performers to whom this does apply are older and well-established. Nevertheless, carrying this torch for a younger generation is Jennifer Lawrence.

As one of the world's biggest celebrities, a renowned performer, and among the most reliable box office draws for over a decade now, Lawrence boasts what is becoming a rarer and rarer combination of qualities for actors who broke through post-2010. From starring in billion-dollar action franchises to collecting awards for performances in indie fare to spearheading a potential raunchy studio comedy revival, there is seemingly little that J-Law can't do. 

That much was apparent, in fact, as soon as the world got to see how much truth, intensity, and genuine depth she was capable of bringing to even a commercial blockbuster series like "The Hunger Games." This young adult franchise arguably led the charge in establishing both Jennifer Lawrence, superstar, and Jennifer Lawrence, once-in-a-generation dramatic talent. Lawrence's dedication to the role of Katniss Everdeen, it turns out, was so considerable that it even transformed her body permanently.

Taking up archery had a big physical impact on Jennifer Lawrence

Like most action movie leads, Jennifer Lawrence had to undergo significant physical preparation for the role of Katniss Everdeen in the "Hunger Games" films. Naturally, given how central a bow and arrow are to how Katniss tackles adversity in life — from providing for herself and her family to surviving the titular Games to participating in a revolution against the governmental Capitol — Lawrence had to learn archery in order to embody her role convincingly.

As she revealed in a 2015 interview with NPR during the press cycle for "Joy," Lawrence found taking up archery to be an enjoyable experience, though it also ended up having a significant physical impact. Explaining this transformation, Lawrence credited her highly demanding archery instructor Khatuna Lorig with ensuring she was committed to the learning process wholeheartedly. "She was Georgian. She was an excellent instructor — very, very strict. If I had bad form, she would pinch my ear. She didn't really put up with anything."

Rising to the physical demands of proper archery form ultimately came to change Lawrence's body over time. "It was so crazy, when I went back for the fitting for the second movie for 'Catching Fire,' my shoulders were 2 inches broader and my right arm is 1 inch longer than my left arm, permanently, I guess," the actress told NPR, proving her dedication to her craft with her very physique.

Jennifer Lawrence refused to lose weight for The Hunger Games

Jennifer Lawrence discussed the fact that learning archery seems to have changed her physique permanently in a neutral manner, not necessarily characterizing her broader shoulders and longer arm as positive or negative changes. In contrast, about 9:50 into a 2022 video interview with Viola Davis, Lawrence mentions how development of "Hunger Games" protagonist Katniss Everdeen's look led to discussions about her weight, which was something Lawrence was unwilling to compromise.

"I remember the biggest conversation — of course, this was pre-#MeToo and I'm a woman — so, it was weight," Lawrence told Davis. "Along with me being young and growing and not able to be on a diet — because who wants to be on a diet? — I was also like, 'I don't know if I want all of the girls who are going to dress up as Katniss to feel like they can't because they're not a certain weight.'"

Ultimately, then, despite producers suggesting the then-20 year old Lawrence lose weight for the film, Lawrence stuck to her guns and opted not to, only changing physically through intensive archery training during the making of "The Hunger Games."