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Originally published Thursday, March 29, 2012 at 5:30 AM

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4 tough teens at the movies

Jennifer Lawrence, who plays Katniss Everdeen in "The Hunger Games," is the latest in a long line of young actors who've played tough gals and guys in the movies.

The Associated Press

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LOS ANGELES — Jennifer Lawrence already proved in 2010's "Winter's Bone" that she could play a girl with strength, wisdom and survival instincts beyond her years. Her performance as an Ozarks teenager searching for her father earned her an Oscar nomination and put her on the map.

It also made her the ideal choice to play Katniss Everdeen, the fiercely independent, 16-year-old heroine of "The Hunger Games," which hit it big at the box office last weekend. Here's a look at four other teenage movie bad-asses — if you're not too intimidated to take them on, that is.

Daniel Radcliffe in the "Harry Potter" movies: He defeats pure evil. What more do you need? Sure, he starts out as a slightly nerdy, insecure 11-year-old, living a miserable life underneath the stairs at his aunt and uncle's house, unaware of the greatness that dwells within him. But by the time he hits his teenage years, he's mastering spells and brandishing his wand with purpose and ferocity.

He's the king of Hogwarts. Professors admire him. Friends are loyal to him. Chicks dig him. Harry thinks on his feet and conquers every challenge but still remains a good kid at heart.

Saoirse Ronan in "Hanna" (2011): Ronan reteams with Joe Wright, who directed her to an Oscar nomination for "Atonement," in a role that could not be more different, or more challenging. She stars as the title character, a blonde-haired, blue-eyed, 16-year-old killing machine. Living with her father (Eric Bana) in a rustic cabin in a remote and unforgiving forest just below the Arctic Circle, she learns to hunt, fight and speak in various languages. Later, on the journey that's her destiny, she gets captured by government agents who think she's a shy and sheltered little girl. But, uh ... they're wrong.

Hailee Steinfeld in "True Grit" (2010): Her pigtails and her purity make her adorable, but her strong will and resourcefulness make her a force to be reckoned with. Steinfeld made her astonishingly self-assured film debut as Mattie Ross, the 19th-century pioneer girl who sets the story's action in motion and earned an Oscar nomination for best-supporting actress in the process. She was only 13 when she shot the movie, and to say she holds her own with Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Josh Brolin and the rest of the cast would be an understatement.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt in "Brick" (2005): I must admit I did not love this movie, a 1930s-style film noir set in a contemporary Southern California high school, when it first came out. I admired its daring but found it too self-conscious ... maybe I should revisit it. Still, I always loved Gordon-Levitt's performance as Brendan, a teenage loner who's investigating the murder of one of his classmates.

In the tradition of classic Humphrey Bogart characters, Brendan's looks in no way indicate what he's capable of doing as he digs closer to the dangerous truth.

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