‘Hunger Games’ Eyes Abigail Breslin, Jennifer Lawrence, Hailee Steinfeld — Younger Or Older Better?

This isn’t exactly news to rabid “Hunger Games” fans who have been speculating for months about which young actress will win the role of a lifetime playing District 12 tribute Katniss Everdeen, but nonetheless, Variety is reporting that the casting search is heating up, with three Oscar-nominated stars in Lionsgate’s crosshairs: Abigail Breslin, Jennifer Lawrence and Hailee Steinfeld.

Echoing an earlier report from Lainey Gossip, a source told the trade that Jennifer (“Winter’s Bone”) has “generated the most interest” (i.e. she’s the likely front-runner for the role). The source went on to say that age is playing a big part in Gary Ross’ casting approach. Whether he decides to cast younger (Abigail and Hailee are 14) or older (Jennifer is 20) will impact the demographic of the audience and casting options for other roles, including Peeta and Gale (it would be kind of weird for a 24-year-old actor to romance a 14-year-old, right?). The article also points out that going younger could make casting the male leads more of a challenge.

So the big question is: Should Lionsgate cast younger or older? There are obviously valid arguments for both sides. Perhaps, like me, you’re tired of seeing 30-year-olds play 16-year-olds (hello, “90210”!) and crave a bit of authenticity in your teen dramas. On the other hand, there’s something to be said for an actor who’s reached the level of maturity necessary to play such a gritty part (though, to be sure, Abigail and Hailee are no slouches—they have had a date with Oscar, after all).

I think which side fans’ alliances will lie depends largely on the actor they’ve envisioned as Peeta. One of the resounding fan favorites for the role is ubercute “Weeds” star Hunter Parrish, who will turn 24 this spring. Many of you have tweeted at Hollywood Crush bemoaning the possible casting of a 14-year-old simply because that would probably rule out Hunter (again with the 14-year-old getting frisky with a 24-year-old…ew!)

I’ll admit I’ve been on Team Hailee for a while now, but I wouldn’t mind too much if Lionsgate went older and picked Jennifer. If it takes an actress in her early 20s to draw convincing supporting actors, I’m all for stretching the age barrier past Katniss’ 16 years…as long as they don’t try to give 28-year-old Emily Blunt a face lift and throw her into the arena.