Jennifer Lawrence has revealed that the violence in The Hunger Games has not been "watered down".
The 21-year-old actress, who plays heroine Katniss Everdeen in the big-screen adaptation of the first of Suzanne Collins' book trilogy, admitted that director Gary Ross didn't want to "downplay the violence" despite the 12A rating.
"We weren't going to make a watered-down version of what we love. If you take the violence and brutality out of the movie, you take the entire heart out of it," she explained.
"You're protecting the audience from something that these poor innocent children aren't protected against. But by having the boundaries of the rating, it made the violence better and more realistic. Violence in real life is over so fast, and fights last a matter of seconds. We didn't do the long over-done death."
The Hunger Games refers to an annual televised battle, in which 24 teenagers from the fictional nation of Panem (the ruins of what was North America) have to fight for their lives - or be killed.
Liam Hemsworth, who plays Katniss' best friend Gale Hawthorne, said the violence isn't celebrated.
"None of it is glorified and it's not about that," said the 22-year-old Australian actor.
"It's about kids in a horrible situation, and there's this girl who overcomes it and gives hope to everyone and they come together to do something about it," he added.
The Hunger Games, which also stars Josh Hutcherson, Elizabeth Banks, Woody Harrelson and Lenny Kravitz, opens in cinemas on March 23.