BERLIN —Jennifer Lawrence gave one of her famous Mona Lisa-like smiles as she settled in to chat about the fourth and final “The Hunger Games” film: “Mockingjay — Part 2.” The Academy Award winner was reflecting on the five-year journey she has taken with her Katniss Everdeen character — “someone who has evolved, just as I have as well,” said the actress.
“It was cool to play her, and a wonderful honor. It was a great coming-of-age story to play, just as I was, in a sense, coming of age myself. [‘The Hunger Games’] is about expanding horizons, as well as everything else the film showcases.
“In the beginning Katniss only knows District 12 and its rank poverty and sadness. Then when experiences broaden her and she sees the unrest and the disparity between the other districts and the Capitol, she comes into her own, and has a much more different view of the world at the end of it.”
When asked her favorite memory from making this quartet of films, Lawrence turned very playful, and admitted, “The first thing that comes to my mind is the impromptu party I gave during our filming in Berlin.It wasn’t the wrap party or anything major like that. It was just a random party I decided to throw on a moment’s notice and just texted everybody to come over to my place. It turned out to be a blast. The best party ever!
“It’s like why I don’t like New Year’s Eve — that’s an example of planned fun, because everyone is intent on having a good time, just because it’s New Year’s Eve. As a result, often it’s not much fun. I really believe it’s those unplanned moments that often turn out to be the best fun.”
•For Liam Hemsworth, who played the stoic Gale Hawthorne in the “Hunger Games” franchise, the popularity of the films rests squarely on co-star Lawrence’s slim shoulders. “I think the reason it has resonated so strongly with audiences is because Katniss is such an inspirational character.
“She is such a good role model for young people. She is a courageous young woman who goes above and beyond whatever people expected her to do. She provides hope for everyone. That sense of hope underlies this whole franchise.”
•Josh Hutcherson, who stars as Peeta Mellark, likes to talk about what he called “a huge theme of these films.” The actor thinks it’s the universality of the political issues raised in the “Hunger Games” movies that 21st century audiences totally get.
“In these films, you constantly see this huge gap between the rich and the poor and those who are governed and those who are doing the governing — in a totally autocratic way. Historically, when there’s any group of people who have been long oppressed by a government, there’s usually some kind of rebellion or uprising. History has an unfortunate way of repeating itself, and this story tells that in a very entertaining but accessible way for younger audiences to understand.”
•The issue of “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely” was something Oscar winner Julianne Moore said she never forgot as she portrayed rebel leader President Coin.
“It is a familiar narrative,” said Moore. “It is something we’ve seen again and again in the real world. So when Francis [Lawrence, the director] and I were working on this, it was something we wanted to explore.I liked the idea of presenting somebody who was a revolutionary and an ideologue who then moves towards tyranny.”
•For Elizabeth Banks, playing the Capitol’s style queen was a great chance to portray a character “who really evolved so much from the first film to the fourth. I call her the Grinch, because of how her heart grew several sizes over the course of these movies. She’s amazing. Despite all the crap Katniss gave her in the beginning, she earned Effie’s respect. Of course, we come to see that Effie herself is also a survivor and a true self-preservationist.
“What was fun was to watch how Effie’s over-the-top makeup and costumes morphed into outfits far more simple as the saga of ‘Hunger Games’ continued. … It also was a lot easier for me every day, having to spend so much less time in the makeup trailer!”
•Of course, Donald Sutherland personified evil incarnate in the “Hunger Games” movies — thanks to his portrayal of the Panem dictator, a performance as chilling as his character’s name: President Snow. Interestingly, Sutherland said that beyond the chance to be part of such a big acting project, he signed on because he hoped the films would communicate a bigger message, presented as entertaining cinema.
“From the very beginning I kept thinking, ‘Young people please! Take all this to heart. This is not just fiction. I keep waiting for the younger generations to wake up. I was hoping that young people seeing these films would become inspired to become politically involved. Obviously, this is just a movie, but there are powerful themes here.
“I would love to see young people catapulted out of their chairs and away from their computer screens and devices and games, and do something politically. I hope they will increasingly go out and vote!
“I hope they would see this world is dying and they will die right alongside it, unless they do something to change the planet.”