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raising her game

After a rough couple of months, which saw her private nude photos leaked on the internet, and a romance with Coldplay's Chris Martin reportedly fizzle out, Jennifer Lawrence could be forgiven for lying low for a while.

But with a massive blockbuster - the third instalment of the Hunger Games franchise, Mockingjay: Part 1 - to promote, the show must go on for the Oscar-winning 24-year-old.

Dressed in a sharply-cut white power suit, her blonde hair in a choppy bob, Lawrence has echoes of tough young warrior Katniss Everdeen, who begins the latest film (based on the bestselling trilogy by author Suzanne Collins) battle-scarred and facing an even bigger fight for survival.

The actress insists, however, that she's a "very different person, who handles emotions in a very different way" to reluctant leader Katniss, and had she been faced with such struggles in real life: "I would have been crying every single day," the Kentucky-born star confesses.

Uncomfortable

"But I remember reading the first books, and when I read them, I was going through my first awards season for Winter's Bone [the 2010 drama which earned Lawrence an Oscar nomination].

"I had never experienced anything like that; being put in dresses that are uncomfortable, and looking not like myself, and all of a sudden everybody's listening to you and you're like, 'Don't listen to me, I'm 20', and then kind of growing into it, in a way."

Since her Winter's Bone breakthrough, Lawrence has certainly grown into life as a leading lady, with smart career choices and acclaimed performances.

Alongside her roles in the Hunger Games and X-Men franchises, she earned a Best Actress Oscar aged 22 for the more low-key Silver Linings Playbook (Lawrence is the second-youngest actress in history to land that award), and a Supporting Actress nomination for last year's crime caper American Hustle.

In September, however, her world was rocked when it emerged she was one of the high-profile victims of the celebrity photo-hacking scandal. The actress later described the leaking of intimate personal images as "disgusting" and a "sex crime".

She made headlines again recently when it was reported that the star - who was previously in a relationship with her English X-Men co-star Nicholas Hoult - and Coldplay singer Martin had split after around four months of dating.

Today though, on a press tour with the Hunger Games co-stars she now counts among her best friends, Lawrence is keen to focus on the film and Katniss, a character she "loves everything about".

The first Mockingjay movie sees the "reluctant heroine" wake up in District 13, an unknown underground world she didn't know existed, separated from her fellow fighter Peeta (Josh Hutcherson). Her former home, District 12, has been turned to rubble, and she's faced with the prospect of war against the wealthy Capitol.

"In the first movie, she wanted to save her family. In the second, she tried to save her friends and herself. Now, she starts to realise the impact she has on the wider world and that she has a choice to lead this battle for what is right."

Australian actor Liam Hemsworth returns to play Katniss' devoted friend Gale, while Julianne Moore joins as District 13 President Alma Coin, who is keen to have Katniss lead the rebellion against the Capitol.

"Both our characters do actually have a lot in common; we're both very strong and very powerful, so there's something we respect in each other, but also something we both fear in one another," Lawrence says of Coin.

Learning fellow Oscar nominee Moore was signing up was "the most exciting, unbelievable news in the world".

"I think Julianne is one of the greatest actresses of all time, just absolutely phenomenal," says Lawrence. "She was even more impressive in person. She is such a sweet family woman and also hilarious. Working with her was a dream come true."

With an incredibly loyal following (who have also snapped up more than 65 million copies of Collins' novels), "the fans and our audience are constantly in our conversation" during filming, the actress notes.

With the fourth and final film due out next year, in which Katniss and District 13 embark on all-out war against the Capitol, Lawrence and her co-stars are preparing to bid farewell to the franchise.

"We had a feeling that these [films] were going to be big and this character was going to be with me for the rest of my life, [but] this surpassed every expectation we ever had. That made me nervous for a few days, because I'm an actor, I don't want to just be remembered as one character," Lawrence admits.

"But I'm so proud of these movies. I love their message, I love this character, I'm actually honoured to carry this for the rest of my life and to have people remember me as this incredible courageous hero..."

With a laugh, she adds: "I hope people mistake it for me."

Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part I is in cinemas now


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