By Adam B. Vary
June 25, 2012 at 12:00 PM EDT
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Actress Jena Malone (Sucker Punch) is in the running for the pivotal role of strong-willed tribute Johanna Mason in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, EW has learned exclusively.

The character is described in author Suzanne Collins’ best-seller as possessing “a wicked ability to murder,” winning her Hunger Games by pretending to be weak and then picking off the other tributes. One open question about the character is whether director Francis Lawrence will keep Johanna’s introduction from the book, in which she first meets heroine Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) naked — save for her green slippers.

Malone began her acting career at 12 years old in the acclaimed Showtime movie Bastard out of Carolina and as a young Jodie Foster in the sci-fi drama Contact. She most recently appeared in History’s ratings-record-breaking miniseries Hatfields & McCoys.

EW also confirmed that, despite an earlier report, Mia Wasikowska has not been approached for the role of Johanna Mason, nor would be available to shoot the film.

Lionsgate is currently not commenting on casting for Catching Fire.

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Read more:

‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’: Mia Wasikowska NOT in the running for Johanna Mason

‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’: Philip Seymour Hoffman offered the role of Plutarch Heavensbee

Who should play Johanna in ‘Catching Fire’?