Behind The Scenes on The Hunger Games

03/14/2012 at 08:00 AM EDT

Hunger Games - Behind the Scenes
Jennifer Lawrence


It's Game time!

After months of anticipation, endless fan discussion and a pandemonium-producing premiere, the first Hunger Games film is finally arriving in theaters on March 23. The fans are ready – but are the stars?

"It still hasn't sunk in," Jennifer Lawrence, who plays series' heroine Katniss Everdeen, tells PEOPLE in this week's cover story.



The 21-year-old actress also shares how she bonded off-set in North Carolina with leading men Josh Hutcherson, 19, and Liam Hemsworth, 22.



"One day we went down to a creek to catch a crawdad, 'cause Liam didn't know what it was," recalls Lawrence. "I saw one and was like, 'Catch it!' Josh did and it got stuck to his hand. It was a leech! Then we went to Walmart and bought slingshots."

Adds Lawrence, who also spent time with her cast mates listening to costar Lenny Kravitz play music back at their hotel: "It was like some weird summer camp."

For much more on The Hunger Games, including behind-the-scenes stories from the stars, Effie's outrageous wardrobe and fan reaction, pick up this week’s PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday

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