Exclusive: Jennifer Lawrence Officially Cast In ‘Hunger Games’

Author Suzanne Collins gives Oscar-nominated actress her blessing to play Katniss Everdeen.

At long last, after seemingly endless debate, speculation and rumors, MTV News has received exclusive confirmation that Jennifer Lawrence has landed the highly coveted role of Katniss Everdeen in the big-screen adaptation of “The Hunger Games.”

According to Lionsgate, the 20-year-old actress is a fitting choice due to her “meteoric ascent” to Hollywood stardom with her Oscar-nominated role in “Winter’s Bone,” to be followed by roles in Matthew Vaughn’s “X Men: First Class” and “The Beaver,” directed by Jodie Foster.

“Hunger Games” author Suzanne Collins has already given Lawrence’s casting her blessing, via a statement from the studio.

“Jennifer’s just an incredible actress,” Collins said. “So powerful, vulnerable, beautiful, unforgiving and brave. I never thought we’d find somebody this perfect for the role. And I can’t wait for everyone to see her play it.”

Director Gary Ross also praised his lead actress: “I’m so excited to work with Jen and see her bring this character to life. Katniss requires a young actress with strength, depth, complexity, tenderness, and power. There are very few people alive who can bring that to a role. Jen brings it in spades. She’s going to be an amazing Katniss.”

The movie, based on Collins’ dystopian best-seller about children forced to compete in a fight-to-the-death battle, is slated to hit theaters March 23, 2012.

What do you think of the casting? Share your thoughts in the comments!

For young Hollywood news, fashion and “Twilight” updates around the clock, visit HollywoodCrush.MTV.com.