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‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1’ Cast & Director Dish on Winding Down the Franchise

'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' Cast & Director Dish on Winding Down the Franchise

At a recent press junket, Shadow and Act was present as the majority of the cast of “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1,” spoke about the series and their experiences. 

Here are some of the highlights:

Francis Lawrence (director), Nina Jacobson (producer), Jennifer Lawrence (Katniss Everdeen), Josh Hutcherson (Peeta Mellark), Liam Hemsworth (Gale Hawthorne), Julianne Moore (President Alma Coin), Donald Sutherland (President Coriolanus Snow), Natalie Dormer (Cressida), Mahershala Ali (Boggs), Sam Clafin (Finnick Odair), Willow Shields (Primrose Everdeen), and Jeffery Wright (Beetee Latier) were present for the conference.

On “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay: Part 1”

Francis Lawrence: This half of Mockingjay is really about Katniss discovering what she means to people; all of the districts. And really taking on the responsibility of her role in this revolution. It gave us the opportunity to explore one of the facets of war, which is propaganda.

Fascism vs. Freedom and being caught in the middle. On the political and social sophistication of the books and films

Jennifer Lawrence: Katniss is representing the consequences of war. It’s not that she doesn’t believe in what President Coin wants. It’s not that she doesn’t believe that the Capitol is a terrible government that is only good for the one percent. But war is complicated, and it affects everyone on both sides. I think for Katniss being caught in the middle is feeling pain from both sides. There really is no right way to start or end a war.

Julianne Moore: When I read [the books] I was really struck by the political allegory, and that is very unusual in YA. The thing about dystopia is that what is posits is whether or not we have free will as human beings. And for adolescents in particular, that’s a time when that idea is looming pretty large because you haven’t had free will. You’re in your parents’ house and you’re looking to… who you’re going to be as human being.  So here you have this central character who is trying to decide who she is going to be personally, and who she is going to be politically; and it’s fascinating.  It’s really wonderful. Suzanne Collins also sets up this idea about the difference between freedom and totalitarianism, and how you move from one system to another. I think it’s amazing and it speaks to not just me, but millions of people.

Donald Sutherland: The allegory is evident. When I first read the script I truly wanted to be apart of this project  so that I could look back at the end of my life, which is very close, and say I was a piece of this. Because for me how she has presented this dilemma to young people, and demanded from them a resolution; demanded from them participation that could change things. Because the world that my generation is leaving everyone is a disaster in every respect; politically, socially and economically. I hope that it would be a catalyst for young people. To get them off the seat of their pants …that someone from Occupy or wherever use these films to generate from young people an energy that  will take them into the voting booths of the United States in 2016 and make people responsible, politicians responsible for their words and their actions.

On the lack of physical action scenes in the film

Jennifer Lawrence: There was a lot less action in this movie. [Katniss] is in a very different place emotionally at the beginning of this movie, and the Games have completely changed her. She has to completely rebuild herself.  There wasn’t time for much action. Instead, there was just time for her reaction to everything.

In the film President Coin says, “There is no progress without compromise.” How does that apply to you as an actor?

Josh Hutcherson: There is no life without compromise. For us personally, there is a fair amount of sacrifice with the attention, with the loss of anonymity when you go somewhere.

Jennifer Lawrence: There are sacrifices but, I get to do what I love, and there is a downside to every job.

What quality does your character have that you wish you had?

Liam Hemsworth: [Gale] is a pretty brave guy. I would consider myself brave in some ways, but I think he acts impulsively and instinctively a lot; but I haven’t had to fight a war.

Josh Hutcherson: I don’t think I would have been able to go through what Peeta goes through.

Jennifer, I know a lot of people look up to you, and you seem like a really normal person. What is that pressure like?

Jennifer Lawrence: Something strange does happen that you don’t expect when you become famous. It’s a very tiny thing that makes a big emotional difference. It’s the way that people look at you.  Because I don’t feel any different and sometimes when you go out and you see the way people look at you, it makes you feel kind of alienated and a little odd. So I try to surround myself with people who never look at me that way, and never fake laugh at my jokes.

On singing in the film

Jennifer Lawrence: Singing, that’s something that I hated. That was the worst thing that I ever had to do and [Francis] made me eat a raw fish like Gollum [during] Catching Fire.

Katniss as an inspiration to young people

Jennifer Lawrence: I think Katniss can inspire [young] people. Making the younger generation realize how powerful their voice can be. It’s easy to follow the feet in front of you, it’s a lot hard to speak out. I think that what you can learn from Katniss is how to be an individual and speak for yourself, and to not let other people think for you.

On growing up with Primrose Everdeen

Willow Shields: As Prim has grown up, she’s gotten stronger and become more like Katniss. I feel like I’ve grown up and I’ve gotten stronger as well. I think that Prim has really followed in Katniss’ footsteps just in a little bit of a different way.

On showing a different side of Finnick Odair

SamClafin: Finnick is very similar to Marilyn Monroe. In public he’s a character, he puts up a front and a guard. Behind closed doors he’s damaged and vulnerable, sensitive and broken. [Marilyn] was definitely some inspiration to me. It did really inform me as to what he would be like. It’s a very different approach to the character this time around but it’s nice to get the opportunity to show both sides.

This movie is a lot darker then the first two. How did you all keep it fun and light onset in between takes?

Jennifer Lawrence: The question is how did we keep the movie dark and heavy.

Francis Lawrence: Yes I think it’s opposite. Quite honestly with this group, and I think with everybody involved people are able to turn it on and off. It always stayed really fun; it really did. And everybody was good about that, so there was really no dwelling in the mood or the emotion of any scene.

On the end of “The Hunger Games”

Jennifer Lawrence: It was complicated because it was such a long shoot. We were there for ten months and it was very hard and exhausting.  So, there was this [desire] to wrap so we could give our bodies a break.  But then realizing that it was over. We always had that, we would go and do other stuff and then we would come back. Realizing that was all going to be gone, it was such a complicated mix of feelings. It was relief on one hand because we were exhausted, but we were so sad. It was heartbreaking. I thought I was going to be relieved because I was so exhausted, but then they called wrap and I started sobbing.

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