Recruiting Hailee Steinfeld (a.k.a. Mattie Ross in the Coen Brothers' True Grit) to play the strong-willed, 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games seems like as much a no-brainer as casting Mark Strong to be the antagonist in a big-budget production (we kid Mr. Strong - sort of).
Current rumors, however, do peg Miss Steinfeld as being a legitimate contender to star in director Gary Ross' PG-13 adaptation of Suzanne Collin's runaway hit novel - the first in a trilogy about a dystopian future in which adolescents must battle one another to the death.
The source for this otherwise unsubstantiated rumor is Cinematical, which also pointed out that Steinfeld is very much an ideal candidate to play Hunger Games' Katniss, in terms of both her age and from a physical standpoint (hair color, skin tone, and slender build). Steinfeld's Mattie Ross persona is also virtually identical to Miss Everdeen's; both are fiercely independent, capable young women who can be ruthlessly efficient (especially when it comes to taking care of business) but remain very likable and admirable figures.
Katniss is also a deadly warrior whose abilities are put to the test when she competes in the annual Hunger Games, a vicious government-sponsored event in which teenagers are pitted against one another in a death match that serves as a symbol of the Capitol's might. The character's mix of warrior instinct and emotional vulnerability also suggests that someone like Chloe Moretz, a.k.a. Hit-Girl in Kick-Ass, would be a natural fit as well - even though the young actress wouldn't be allowed to drop as many (to quote Spock from Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home) "colorful metaphors" this next time around :-P.
Steinfeld could receive an Oscar nod for her turn as Miss Ross and rightly so - while there's no denying the Coens did an excellent job of scripting the character, Steinfeld delivered the right mix of convincing no-nonsense attitude and authentic emotion to make Mattie truly feel like a real person. While she is still a few years away from being a legal adult and should actually try to enjoy life as a teen, Steinfeld does just seem like almost a perfect fit to play the protagonist of The Hunger Games.
There are certainly other young women in the world capable of bringing Katniss to life and it's possible that Ross will be inclined to select an unknown to star in his adaptation - as opposed to going with either the likes of Steinfeld or Moretz. It's all speculation at this point, either way, but keep an eye out for more substantial news and information about this project over the next year.
The Hunger Games is not expected to reach theaters until either late 2012 or 2013.
Hunger Games artwork source: Kristenstewarttwilight.om