Even if the film and TV industries are slowly getting better now, although not entirely, it's common knowledge that before, the cinematic world was not that welcoming. Back then, it was difficult to land a lead role if you were a woman, and Jennifer Lawrence believes The Hunger Games was the first film to attempt and succeed in changing this unfair landscape.
In an actor-on-actor conversation between Lawrence and Viola Davis for Variety, Lawrence made a remark that “nobody had ever put a woman in the lead of an action movie” before The Hunger Games as she commended Viola's current work in The Woman King (2022).
“I remember when I was doing Hunger Games nobody had ever put a woman in the lead of an action movie because it wouldn’t work — because we were told girls and boys can both identify with a male lead, but boys cannot identify with a female lead,” she justified.
Despite being nominated for best actress at the 2010 Academy Awards for the indie drama Winter’s Bone, Lawrence only achieved ultimate stardom after being cast as Katniss Everdeen in the 2012 film The Hunger Games, adapted from the Suzanne Collins novel of the same name.
The Silver Linings Playbook star feels proud because successful female-led films are beginning to dispel the myth that gender has something to do with keeping people out of the movies.
Lawrence explained, “It just makes me so happy every single time I see a movie come out that just blows through every one of those beliefs, and proves that it is just a lie to keep certain people out of the movies. To keep certain people in the same positions that they’ve always been in.”
Despite the X-Men star's clear intentions, some fans burst Lawrence's bubble, believing that the Hunger Games did not usher in the era of female-led movies, given that there were already notable women-led strong portrayals on the big screen prior to the arrival of the dystopian-action film.
Sigourney Weaver's portrayal of Ellen Ripley in the 1979 Alien series is one example of a female-led role that existed prior to Lawrence's time. Kate Beckinsale had also appeared as a Death Dealer in two Underworld films at the time.
Some other memorable strong female portrayals in action movies are Uma Thurman in the Kill Bill films, Demi Moore in G.I. Jane, Angelina Jolie in the Tomb Raider films, Milla Jovovich in several Resident Evil films, and the two Charlie's Angels movies with Cameron Diaz, Lucy Liu, and Drew Barrymore as the stars.
Regardless of Lawrence’s claim to be proven misleading, the most important thing is that movie fans have and will forever enjoy the pleasure of seeing females on the big screen, as that is where they belong.