In ''The Hunger Games,'' one of the toughest things for Katniss Everdeen to face doesn't come in the arena. It comes when she has to sit down for an interview with TV host Caesar Flickerman. And Jennifer Lawrence is going through a little bit of that now. The 21-year-old has been in the business since she was 16, once had a regular part on ''The Bill Engvall Show'' and has even been nominated for an Oscar, for 2010's ''Winter Bone.'' But she's never had this level of press attention-the kind of scrutiny (fashion layouts, magazine interviews, shopping-mall tours) that goes with what the studio hopes is the seguinte young-adult movie franchise. It's left her a little worried, thinking of those pictures she sees of the harried ''Twilight'' cast. (''I look at Kristen Stewart now and think, I'd never want to be that famous, ' ''Lawrence told Glamour UK.) And it's left her, understandably, a little tired por the time-during a four dia publicity blitz-she calls to talk. But like Katniss, she carries on. And is soon listing her atuação heroes, (''Charlize Theron, Michael Keaton and Lucille Ball''), explaining why she once knocked out co-star Josh Hutcherson and sharing what she thinks ''The Hunger Games'' is really all about.

Q:So how fast is this all happening? It's not that long atrás you were a sitcom kid on a cable show - and in just the last few years you've been an Oscar nominee, done the new ''X-Men'' and now you have the lead in a major franchise.

A:Yeah, it feels so fast. But at the same time it feels like it's been so long and slow getting here. It feels just - weird, I guess.

Q:Fans are incredibly invested in ''The Hunger Games'' books. Are you worried that the won't like the film? Because everyone probably had very, very strong ideas about how they should have been made.

A:Well, of course the first thing you worry about is the fans' reaction, but it's also the first thing you have to get out of your mind. Once you get on set, you just have to let go of all of that and follow your instincts and listen to your director and just get on with it.

Q:Then there's the worry that fãs might like it too much, and start hanging outside your house 24/7.

A:Yeah, it's funny-you get anxiety about a movie coming out and being a flop and you also get anxiety about it being bigger than your life, and just taking over. Right now I'm kind of in this place where I don't know what to expect, so I'm just chillin' and trying to say calm. My personal life hasn't changed at all -yet- and I'm enjoying that.

Q:Beyond the story, what do you think fãs relate to in the series? In some ways it seems like it's about the normal stress and competition of teenage life, taken to an insane degree.

A:For me, I think it speaks mais to society and our generation, the new generation that's been raise on reality television, watching people's lives fall apart while we sit on the sofá and eat popcorn, you know? And I'm completely part of that generation. I'm not immune-I watch the reality shows, too.

Q:How insane was the training for the film?

A:It was actually pretty cool. It wasn't like gym training-if I have to be in a gym for hours, I just die, I hate it. But this was climbing and yoga and archery. It was good. But it was very physical, very exhausting.

Q:The shoot, too?

A:The shoot was tough-there were scenes where I had to run across a field in 105 degree heat, again, without any shade. Those are challenges that you don't really expect as an actor! But at the same time, you know, you amor it, and you felt really good at the end of the day. Other movies, we'd finish and I'd feel really guilty, ugh, I've just been sitting around all day, I should really go and work out. But you didn't get any of that here. At the end of the day, you knew you'd worked hard.

Q:Were there any accidents?

A:No, they took good care of us. They kept us safe. Except once, I kicked Josh Hutcherson in the face.

Q:Uh-oh, what had he said to you?

A:No! (laughing). We were shadowboxing and I just kind of-missed. I was crying after, I felt so awful.

Q:Where do you pull these characters from? You're not the daughter of a meth addict, you're not a blue mutant. I do'nt think you've ever hunted humans. How do you find something relatable?

A:I don't think it's really relating. I've never chosen a character because I identified with them, because I would never want to see me on screen. I'm so boring. Basically I think it's just understanding the character and finding a way to make those words come out of your mouth naturally, and not, like, forcing anything.

[b]Q:You certainly seemed natural in ''Winter's Bone.'' Even skinning that squirrel.

A:That movie-that was a movie where we were all there, even the crew, all of us, we were all there because we loved that movie. There was no other reason to be there. It was so close to our heart, and we were just thrilled when it even got into Sundance. And then all of a sudden we were at the Oscars? With this movie that we made without having any idea whether people would want to see it? That was just the most bizarre, fufilling experience. During that entire night, it was just like, ''Pinch me.''

[b]Q:And then going from that to ''X-Men: First Class.''

A:That was really bizarre, too. Because up until then I had only ever shot indies and ''X-Men'' was the exact opposite of anything I'd ever done, not only with this huge studio budget but make up and and prosthetics and computer graphics. And it's a little different playing scenes to things and people that aren't really there, and having to use your imagination. But that's what acting's all about.

Q:You're on magazine covers now, and doing fashion spreads, and I have to say, you just look really good and healthy and normal. It's a better image than we often get from young actresses.

A:Well, you know, I don't want to look like one of those stick figures you see all the time. Honestly, I hate that. I'm a woman and I'm happy to look like a woman-and have a glass of wine with jantar and enjoy it and not count calories...
When I was staring out, I did get the usual critiquiting, told to change or do this or that, but you know, finally you have to say, ''This is who I am.'' People are always going to try to change you, but I think you have to stick to your roots and say, ''This is me.'' And not get caught up in that whole, oh, you have to lose 10 pounds. Plus, you know, I'm playing this character in 'The Hunger Games', right? You want someone with a little meat on her, a little muscle. Otherwise it's going to be- ''How can that skinny little thing climb up all those trees?''

Credit: The Sunday Star-Ledger