Jennifer Lawrence in a scene from "The Hunger Games"
Jennifer Lawrence in a scene from "The Hunger Games"

The Hunger Games novels by author Suzanne Collins are international best-sellers, and now the first film based on that trilogyis poised to become a worldwide hit, propelling lead actress Jennifer Lawrence to superstardom.

In a distant future, to commemorate an uprising quelled by the government, children from the rebellious districts are chosen as "tributes" who battle to the death in a broadcast for the entertainment of the wealthy elite. When her younger sister is selected, Katniss, a teenager, steps forward to take her place.

Lawrence, who stars as Katniss, enters The Hunger Games as a reluctant warrior but grows into a symbol of bravery and hope.

"She is this incredible character in this incredible story for our generation," explains Lawrence.

The actress, 21, admits to some misgivings when she won the role of an icon.

Jennifer Lawrence in a scene from
Jennifer Lawrence in a scene from "The Hunger Games" (Photo: Murray Close/Lionsgate Films)

"Personally I was nervous obviously because I knew that everything would change," she says. "I didn't know what would change and if I would like it or dislike it. But I knew it would never go back to normal. Then as an actress it's always scary because you're afraid you're going to be too well-known for one thing and then whatever you do after that it's just going to be 'oh look, Katniss is doing a period drama.' You know, that's just not good."

Born and raised in Kentucky, Lawrence was 14 when she convinced her parents to let her try acting. She never took lessons, but her natural talent quickly won her roles in TV shows and then films. Her breakout performance was as a teenager searching for her missing father in the 2010 drama Winter's Bone.

It earned Lawrence a best actress Oscar nomination. At the time, she tried to take it in stride.

?My life was a little bit more boring. I slept in more. I think I'm just busier and [getting] less sleep, but happy. All is good," she said about life after the nomination.

A year later, with her face on billboards around the world for The Hunger Games, Lawrence knows life is going to change. But she doesn't consider herself an overnight success.

Scene from
Scene from "The Hunger Games" (Photo: Murray Close/Lionsgate Films)

"It is always weird for an actor to be blown away by fame. 'Why is everybody taking my picture? Why do people want my autograph?' In a lot of ways it feels fast," notes Lawrence,  "and in a lot of ways I remember being 14 or 15 and auditioning and that feels like it was so long ago. I was so much younger. So in a lot of ways, I've been doing this for a while."

Jennifer Lawrence expects to play Katniss again in film versions of the second and third Hunger Games books: Catching Fire and Mocking Jay.