'Catching Fire' stars think 'Hunger Games' fantasy relatable to fans

Written By Sun-Times Wire Posted: 11/19/2013, 06:42pm
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Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson in “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”

LOS ANGELES — With the release this week of the much-anticipated “Hunger Games: Catching Fire” — the second film in the super-successful franchise based on Suzanne Collins’ mega-bestselling triilogy — Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson continue to develop their Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark characters.

During a recent chat in a L.A. hotel suite, the young actors talked about the film and its relevance to the real world of today.

Q: You had a change of directors from the first film. How was that switch for you — going from Gary Ross to Francis Lawrence? [Who, by the way, is no relation to Jennifer.]

JENNIFER: Francis is very visual. Gary was terrific, but Francis is very visual but he’s great emotionally and he didn’t want to change anything too much from the first movie — but just grow it and take the story forward, like it is in the books.

Q: In many ways your characters are reluctant heroes in “The Hunger Games” — forced into the murderous competition by the viciously-dictatorial government. Do you think that reluctant hero thing is one reason fans relate both to the books and the films?

JOSH: I think the characters are very relatable. I think that a lot of times the hero of a movie – whether it’s a man or a woman – are kind of like this golden person, who have this higher sense of morality. And in this, you see that’s not always the case. The characters don’t and that makes them more realistic. They are people with flaws and actually feel the emotion of ‘I don’t want this responsibility’ of leading a rebellion.

Q: How do feel about the idea — very key to “The Hunger Games” — that people are all pawns of the government. Your thoughts on that?

JENNIFER: It is true and it speaks so much about our society and just how they have this insatiable need to see people suffer — often preferring to see something bad happen to somebody, rather than something good. Even in our real world of today — America in 2013 — we’re so desensitized to the shock factor. How the media keeps giving it to you and feeding it to you and people now feel they are entitled to things about others that they just aren’t. In the future if we continue to feed this gross hunger — so to speak — we can see what could happen.

Q: Do you have a favorite memory from being in this second film together?

JOSH: Filming in Hawaii! Hands down that was the best.

JENNIFER: We could jump into the water between scenes. We went paddleboarding at lunch once. That was a real treat. Making these films is very intense and often very physical. So it was fun to be in a place — like Hawaii — where we could do things like that.

Very different from the scenes we had to shoot in the winter in Atlanta — it may be the South — but trust me, jumping into those water scenes were just the opposite. It was often really freezing.