ELLE recently talked to Catching Fire actor Sam Claflin. Sam discusses his audition process, going “whoa” over Finnick Odair, the movie and lots more.
Check out excerpts below:
ELLE: Hello, Sam! Let’s get to it. You’ve said in previous interviews that when you went in for your first Catching Fire audition, you didn’t know what the role was for. How could that be?
Sam Claflin: I was sent over a script and there was no title to what I was reading. It was just two scenes with a character called “Finnick” and a mini-character breakdown. I started reading the scene and saw the name Katniss, and I’d just recently seen The Hunger Games, so I thought, “OK, is this a connection?” But I didn’t know it was a trilogy. I just thought it was a one-time film. So I typed Finnick Odair” into Google an all these book and fan pages came up and I was kind of like, “whoa.” So I just went through all of it and did as much research as I could the night before.
ELLE: And how did that first casting interview go?
SC: I thought I had a pretty good idea of who the character was, but I was pretty off. I thought he was just kind of a bad guy. And obviously he’s kind of painted in that light in the beginning, so I honed in on the fact that he was mysterious and untrustworthy as much as I could. But thank God Frances [Lawrence] was there for my recall because he directed me in a very different way than I was expecting the second time.
ELLE: How so?
SC: I think the fantastic thing that Suzanne Collins manages to achieve in these books is that every single character, no matter how big or small, goes through such an amazing journey. And as you read through them, you realize that someone like Finnick—whose image suggest he is perfection personified—is very far from that and he has a very dark past. So Frances allowed me the freedom to play with that in my scenes. Finnick is far from perfect. He has pitfalls and also this fantastic complexity. And Catching Fire is just touching the surface of where he goes.
ELLE: Let’s talk about the physical necessities to bring Finnick to life. What was your preparation like for that?
SC: Well, there was a huge initial pressure on my shoulders. Having read all the books and then doing the research and also knowing the other actors the fans hoped would get cast—my first thought when I got the role was: “Oh my god. How the hell am I going to get a six pack so quickly?!” Not to mention he’s tall, blond, tan, green eyes. And I sort of walked in with this stubbly face and very pale English skin, long brown hair, and, to be honest, out of shape. So I’m saying to myself, “this is never going to happen.” But once I was cast, the alarms went off and the trainers were brought in. There were a lot of gym workouts, a lot of stunt training and fighting. Hair dying, fake tans, the whole shebang. I was a different man. I’m very happy with the results and can only hope that I achieve a semblance of that perfection that everyone is looking for.
ELLE: Have you seen any early footage of the film?
SC: Just bits and bobs so far.
ELLE: How does it look?
SC: All I can say is that people are going to be blown away. Frances has such an amazing and vivid vision that’s created a whole new depth to a world that’s already basically been created. Add to that the cast: a recent Oscar winner fronting the car; Philip Seymour Hoffman as a new member.
You can read the full interview here.