‘The Hunger Games’: Jennifer Lawrence Had No Idea She Was Famous Until She Was Accosted at Whole Foods

Though Jennifer Lawrence had a budding acting career prior to being cast in The Hunger Games, portraying Katniss Everdeen truly changed her life. Prior to playing the girl on fire, Lawrence was used to starring in small, independent, projects. Though she was somewhat well-known in the entertainment industry to directors, casting directors, and producers, The Hunger Games was only her second mainstream project and it definitely took some getting used to.

The Hunger Games cast member Jennifer Lawrence
Jennifer Lawrence | Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

In fact, Lawrence almost turned down the role of Katniss after she was offered the part because of the film’s size. Though she loved her character and the story, she wasn’t comfortable with being a part of a film that was so mainstream. It wasn’t until her mother called her a hypocrite that she decided to accept the part. Of course, playing a role that so many people knew about was a challenge. Lawrence was particularly taken aback by the reaction she got from fans.

Jennifer Lawrence didn’t realize how famous she’d become after being cast in ‘The Hunger Games’

Though Lawrence knew how popular The Hunger Games books were before she was cast in the movies, she didn’t realize that her level of fame had shifted until the movie premiered. In fact, Lawrence decided to do some grocery shopping on the day the film released and the results were pretty disastrous.

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“Literally the day the movie was released, I had no idea I was famous yet or that anybody had seen the movie,” Lawrence recalled to CNN about the day The Hunger Games premiered. “I don’t think actually I knew the movie came out that day.” Lawrence continued on to say that she was in Whole Foods when she was finally confronted with the extent of her celebrity status. Suddenly, she was swarmed by hoards of people hoping to talk to her, get a picture, or get an autograph. Things got so out of control that Whole Foods “had to call the police and I had to go down the cargo elevator and I was crying.”

Lawrence had an intense reaction to being accosted at Whole Foods

To make matters even more intense, Lawrence ran into her ex-boyfriend after her Whole Foods snafu. At the time, she was so overwhelmed by the instant fame that The Hunger Games had brought her that she could only see the negatives. “And I saw my ex-boyfriend there and he’s like, ‘How’s your life?’ And I was like, ‘Really bad.’ It was the worst,” the actor recalled.

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Fortunately, those feelings didn’t last forever for Lawrence. Over time, she learned to navigate the fame that The Hunger Games movies brought her. “Sometimes I’m nice, sometimes I’m in a bad mood,” Lawrence once said about how she reacted to fans. “Like if I’m at dinner and I’m eating and somebody wants me to stand up and take a picture — that’s actually helped with my anxiety, knowing that I don’t have to say yes and I can say no. … It is hard because you don’t want to feel rude, but at the same time, I have to defend my life and my mental wellness.”

‘The Hunger Games’ alum has learned to navigate her fame

It’s great that Lawrence learned to set boundaries for herself when it comes to fan interactions. As her fame from The Hunger Games franchise had died down significantly, we imagine that those extreme encounters have dwindled also. But, considering her growing resume, we doubt she’ll experience what it’s like not to be famous anytime soon.