She aided the No. 1 box office hit, and that’s now benefiting her sport.
Khatuna Lorig, an Olympic archer, coached the main character in the blockbuster hit, The Hunger Games. Lorig is pleased with helping introduce more people to her sport, and thought she did well in teaching actress Jennifer Lawrence to look like a pro with a bow.
“She looked terrific. She did very much everything right," said Lorig, originally from the Republic of Georgia. "She looked very good, as I directed her. She looked close enough to the professional.”
Lawrence plays 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who represents her district in a government-forced battle to the death, and uses a bow to get her point across. Lorig gave Lawrence 10 hour-long archery lessons in Van Nuys, Calif., and the 20-year-old actress apparently listened and learned well.
“She was motivated and determined to learn,” Lorig said. “She didn’t know anything about archery. She didn’t realize how tough it would get on her, how sore she would get. Professional archery is a lot more than everybody thinks.”
Lorig didn’t receive any special Hollywood perks from her mentoring, no premier attendance nor lifetime movie passes -- “I just teach her how to shoot an arrow.” Once shooting wrapped, Lorig went back to training in earnest for the 2012 Olympics in London.
The four-time Olympian holds the distinction of competing for three countries and holds a degree in physical education. She’s taught archery for years, from children in Easton Foundation programs, to military in the U.S. Air Force as she tours bases, and now to a movie star.
She said safety was first and foremost, and her mission was to make Lawrence appear believable.
“We aligned her shoulders, her forehead straight, and a few other things,” Lorig said, “and all this together comes out pretty good in the end. I think she did really well for the movie.”
Lawrence can now hold her own on a range. Finishing her training by shooting 100 arrows a day with a physically demanding Olympic-style recurve, Lawrence can put together a rather tight grouping near the middle of the target, Lorig said.
Youth have taken notice. As John Wayne movies and the ilk of westerns had kids carousing their neighborhoods with toy six-guns in holsters, The Hunger Games is prompting youth to archery ranges.
Headlines across the nation include: Interest in archery shoots up with ‘Hunger Games’ mania, from the Los Angeles Times; ‘The Hunger Games’ fans filling up lanes at Queens archery ranges, from the New York Daily News; and Archery enthusiasm grows with ‘Hunger Games’ hype, from ABC.com.
"[Lawrence is] the best ambassador we have, a sort of Kevin Costner," Lorig told NPR.
Despite being the top-ranked U.S. archer, Lorig still has to qualify for a spot on the U.S. National team. In London, Lorig is hoping to gain as much success as The Hunger Games, which has been golden for Lions Gate Entertainment. The film, adapted from the 2008 novel written by Suzanne Collins, brought in $152.5 million as the third-highest domestic debut in the U.S. The film has raked in $253 million in U.S. and Canadian ticket sales as of April 2.
Lorig, however, is more thrilled that she made Lawrence look realistic and that her sport is experiencing a resurrection.
"I think she's the one who's going to make archery more visible,” Lorig said. “That's what's happening — and I'm very happy. We need to teach the young ones in the sport. Actually, it’s a great sport.”