Collider's The Hunger Games updates: Cast talks the movie; Producer Nina Jacobson talks sequels

In an elaborate feature, Collider.com has posted a set of interviews with Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz and Wes Bentley where they each talk about various aspects of The Hunger Games movie. You can read excerpts below:

Jennifer Lawrence:

What did you find to be the most challenging aspect of stepping into the role of Katniss?

LAWRENCE: That she was already in the minds of so many different people. Normally, when you’re coming out with a movie, nobody has really seen the character before. You’re just giving it to them. I’m playing a character that most people have already had in their mind, and heard her speak in their mind and seen her. That’s a scary thing to go into, knowing that so many people already have pictures or an idea of what your character is.

How has it been to do a mall tour and get to see the fans?

LAWRENCE: I felt like Justin Timberlake from NSYNC. It was nuts! One girl almost fainted. But, it’s never for me. I sit in between the two guys, when we’re signing. Liam [Hemsworth] is on one side and Josh [Hutcherson] is on the other. So, they start with Liam, and then he speaks with his Australian accent and somebody passes out. And then, I barely get a chance to put my name on the poster before they slide it over to Josh, and they’re like, “Oh, my god, I loved you in . . .,” and they’re crying again. I’m just like, “It’s okay. Screw me. Who am I?” I practiced my signature for so long, and now I don’t even get to use it. There used to be a heart. I took the heart out. It was stupid.

What kind of training did you have to go through for this role?

LAWRENCE: Running, free running, which is for agility, archery, climbing, combat and yoga. But, that’s all.

Do you have a favorite scene from the movie?

LAWRENCE: Yeah, the scene with Stanley Tucci, before I go to the Games. That was just hilarious, to see that. That was also the moment that Katniss realizes that it’s a game, and if she wants a chance to win, she has to play along. [Source]

Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth:

Are both of you looking forward to the possible sequel, Catching Fire?

HUTCHERSON: Oh, yeah!

LIAM HEMSWORTH: Absolutely, yeah! If we get to shoot the other ones, that would be awesome.

Liam, how is it to play a role where you’re going to have much more to do, if there’s a sequel?

HEMSWORTH: Yeah, at this point, I’m very happy to be a part of something so special. As an actor, I choose scripts that I’m passionate about and that I think are interesting.

Did you read all of the books, so that you could have a better sense of the character?

HEMSWORTH: I did, yeah. I read all the books before I met with anyone about the movie, and I became a fan of the books.

Josh, what was it like to play a character where you’re not entirely sure how much he’s telling the truth and how much he’s playing to an audience?

HUTCHERSON: It’s interesting because, in the book, you have Katniss’ internal dialogue to help you understand that she’s confused about Peeta, but in the movie, you don’t have that element. You really have to rely on how the scenes are structured, the dialogue and the other performances. When watching the movie, I felt like I was right along with Katniss, the whole time, as a viewer. In my opinion, it came from how it was edited together. It didn’t show a whole lot of Peeta. It only showed the interactions between Katniss and Peeta together, so that’s all you had to go on. So, the moment where you see him with the Tributes, running in the forest, where Peeta is part of the Careers, you’re like, “What the hell is going on? This is not what I thought was going to happen.” For me, it was really done, a lot, with the structure of the film.

Was it challenging to strike a balance between making Peeta grounded, but still well motivated?

HUTCHERSON: Yeah, I think that came with his self-deprecating humor. Those that become holier than thou typically don’t try to be funny, and they take themselves too seriously, a lot of the time. Peeta doesn’t take himself too seriously. He’s like, “This is what I believe in. That’s just who I am, as a person. I’m comfortable with that, and I can make a joke, here and there.” That’s where it can become too much, in my opinion. [Source]

Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz and Wes Bentley:

Question: What attracted you guys to this project and your roles? Were you familiar with the books, before you got involved?

ELIZABETH BANKS: I was a huge, nerdy fan of the books. I read all of them long ago. I read them in hardcover, and I was on the waitlist on Amazon for (the last book) Mockingjay. I devoured these books. I loved Suzanne’s writing, loved the trilogy and loved the heroine. I love Effie. She’s comedic, and she’s the exact type of role that I like to play, if you’ve seen any of my work. It was just so much fun. And, I was so excited when it was Gary [Ross]. We made Seabiscuit together, and he’s an amazing storyteller. I knew he would treat the material with as much respect as me, being a fan, wanted whoever made it to do. And then, he put together this incredible cast, starting with Jennifer [Lawrence].

LENNY KRAVITZ: I was living under a rock and didn’t know about it.

BANKS: It really was not a best-seller until really recently.

KRAVITZ: Gary actually called to ask me to be in the film, and I had to say, “I don’t know what it is, so I have to read the book.” So, the next day I downloaded and read the book, and then called him back very quickly.

WES BENTLEY: I knew about the books, but I hadn’t read them until they offered me the role.

Elizabeth, how much fun was it to totally disappear into the character?

BANKS: It’s really fun to watch yourself disappear in the movie every day, and watch Effie appear. It required a full transformation. I never knew how old she was, in reading the book. She could be 30, or she could be 100. I imagine, in the future, life expectancy is long and they use crazy plastic surgery. Who the hell knows what’s going on? So, I really wanted her to be ageless. Gary’s one real note was, “I imagine Joel Grey in Cabaret for her face.” That was our jumping off point, and why we ended up with the rough skin and the gnarliness of that.

What was the process of the deciding on the look for your characters?

BANKS: I was on the film pretty early and Judianna Makovsky, who did the costumes, did Seabiscuit with me as well, so we’re old friends. She called me immediately and said, “Come to the studio. I want to show you what I’m looking at.” All of my costumes are handmade. She has one of those dress forms of me, which is weird, in her studio. She had reference boards all the way around the room, and it was great. We looked at Kabuki, a lot of Christian Dior, Marie Antoinette, all these crazy adornments, and just really crazy, cool stuff.

KRAVITZ: Mine was more laid-back. It was basically just the gold eyes, and he was dressed very simply. I decided to play Cinna in a more classic way. I was thinking about Tom Ford or Yves Saint Laurent. He lets out his outrageousness in his costumes. The costumes that Cinna creates are quite dramatic.

BENTLEY: It took about two hours for me, with the hair and the beard. The reference for the wardrobe for me was Alexander McQueen, but it was just the one outfit through the whole thing. [Source]

Nina Jacobson also talks about the movie, the sequels and more:

Since this looks to be a book movie, as a producer, how much were you thinking about the sequel while you were making this film?

JACOBSON: Well, I’m very superstitious. I come from a family that’s big on not painting the nursery until the baby is home. I’ve always tried to really focus on this movie, knowing that, yes, these are amazing books and I would feel like a failure, if I didn’t get all three of them made. I love the books. Certainly, the fans are there. They’re grown enormously since the beginning. When I first brought the books to Lionsgate, they had sold about 150,000 copies, which is a very good result for a YA book. And to their credit, Lionsgate was very excited and committed to the movie, from the beginning. At 150,000 copies, they were as present and excited to make the movie, as they were when we made the movie, which was probably about 8 million copies later. Now, it’s sold three times that.

It’s been a crazy, snowballing thing, while we’ve been making the movie. But, when we made the movie, we really just tried to keep our head down and make a movie that deserved a sequel. Ultimately, only audiences decide what’s a franchise. Only audiences decide what’s a hit. I have always been mindful of not wanting to be the Miami Heat of movies. Nobody roots for people who presume success. You have to earn success, and success is earned by making a movie that audiences like and want to see more of. There’s really no other way around it. I was an executive before I was a producer, and I’ve seen franchise fever grow, over the course of my career. The one thing that people always forget is that it’s only a franchise if audiences really want to see more of it. It’s up to them. It’s really not up to us. So, I was focused on this movie with my director, with the studio, and with the cast and crew. We all just focused on making the best possible movie we could, and earning the right to do more.

What was Suzanne Collins’ involvement, throughout the process?

JACOBSON: Suzanne was very involved in the development of the script. She wrote the first draft. She was very involved with Billy Ray, when he wrote his draft. And then, with Gary [Ross], they hit it off so well, when he was writing his draft, that they actually teamed up and wrote together, for his second draft. We had very involved conversations about the script, from the beginning through the start of production. She came and visited us during pre-production and saw some of the designs and where we were heading, and we talked to her a lot about casting. We wanted to make sure that she felt confident and comfortable with our casting choices. She was very supportive, but we very much wanted her blessing on casting. In production, she visited us once, but she really was not involved in the production process. She’s seen the movie twice, in the post-production process, once as an early cut and then once when it was finished.

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