The idea of having Hailee Steinfeld play 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen in Lionsgate's adaptation of The Hunger Games is a no-brainer for anyone who's seen her performance in the Coen Brothers' True Grit, but before now her potential involvement was largely considered to be the result of little more than rumor mongering.
While attending last night's Oscar ceremony, Steinfeld took a moment to address said speculation and has confirmed that she is officially a contender for the starring role in the cinematic version of the popular Young Adult futuristic adventure novel.
Steinfeld informed MTV that she has in fact met with Hunger Games director Gary Ross about her playing the role of Katniss, saying "It's definitely something that we're taking one day at a time and making sure that everything is in place." Production on Ross' adaptation will commence in a few months time, so that the flick can make its spring 2012 release date - which means there should be some official casting news arriving in the near future.
That's not to say that Steinfeld is the only up-and-coming young actress in contention to headline the Hunger Games movie. Her competition for the lead role includes the likes of Malese Jow (The Social Network), Kaya Scodelario (Clash of the Titans), as well as Kick-Ass alumni Chloe Moretz and Lyndsy Fonseca.
Author Suzanne Collins painted a fairly detailed picture of Katniss in the original Hunger Games novel, and described the teenager as being of small build, with long, black hair, olive skin, and gray eyes. All of the actresses listed as being legitimate contenders to portray the character in the film adaptation fit that description to a certain extent, but Steinfeld arguably comes closer than any of them to matching that look perfectly.
But of course the ability to convincingly play Katniss onscreen is more important than being able to match her appearance, and that's where Steinfeld really leaps ahead of the others. She really rose to the occasion as Mattie Ross in True Grit, aptly playing a young woman with a steely will, no-nonsense attitude, and cunning sense - while still showing enough vulnerability to remind everyone that she was still a teenage girl on her own, doing her best to navigate rather dangerous circumstances.
Katniss is a character cut from the same cloth as Mattie and her quest to survive the Battle Royale breed of competition that are The Hunger Games could make for very engaging entertainment. It should also (fingers crossed) make for a solid change of pace from another recent popular YA literary series that was adapted to the film medium (three guesses as to which franchise that comment refers to...).
The Hunger Games is scheduled to hit theaters on March 23rd, 2012 - in the meantime, feel free to share your own thoughts about who should play Katniss in the comments section below.