Peeta and Gale: Hunger Games’ Rivals Hang with Kidzworld!
We’re with Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth who play the two hot guys who rival for the heart of heroine Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence). They didn’t have direct scenes together in the film but we’ve got them together in Bev Hills and they seem like BFFs.
You know Josh from the “Journey” films (to the Center of the Earth and to the Mysterious Island) and Bridge to Terabithia and Liam from that rom/drama The Last Song where he met girlfriend Miley.
Paint a hunky mental pic of these cute dudes; Josh, whose hair is now black, in black leather jacket over classic white tee and jeans and Liam with lighter hair, in beige Henley tee and black pants. His light blue eyes and shadow beard are workin’ for him. Check it out as the guys enter our interview suite:
- Josh: [to me] Hey! Lenny Kravitz (who plays Cinna) is out there. He’s a sexy man.
- Liam: He really is. He’s not even joking.
Kidzworld: You won’t get an argument from me on that! Hey, you two exchanged hair colors? Again? [Josh has blonde hair in the film and Liam’s is very dark. Now it’s kinda the opposite. ]
- Josh: We exchanged hair colors. And Liam had to lose weight for the movie and I had to gain weight. We decided it would be a lot easier if we played each other’s roles.
- Liam: Switch characters, yeah.
Kidzworld: How much did you have to lose and gain?
- Josh: About 15 pounds each.
Liam: He gained about 15 and I lost about 15.
Liam Hemsworth as Gale
Courtesy of Lions Gate
Kidzworld: You two are rivals for Katniss (Jennifer) in the movie. What surprised you about Jennifer?
- Liam: I assumed that she was going to be a pretty straight-edged sword and she’s completely unpredictable in every way. Amazing to work with but you never know what she’s going to do or say.
- Josh: Exactly. She’s one of those people who doesn’t have much of a filter between what she thinks and what she says which is really refreshing and fun to be around but you never know what she’s going to say. I remember the first conversation I had with her went from catheters to zombies, to the apocalypse to religion, demons, everything. That was the very first conversation I ever had with her.
- Josh: It was like, “Hi, what do you think about catheters going in? Hurts, right?” I was like, “Jennifer, I don’t know how to react to what you’re saying right now because I don’t know what you’re saying”. It’s just out there and over the top.
Kidzworld: That must be wild! How bummed are you Liam that you didn’t get to play the games?
- Liam: I have mixed emotions. My character’s pretty against the games but, as an actor, it would have been fun to be in them.
Kidzworld: With the physical stuff, how much of it is acting and how much of it is high-performance competition? How much of it is play?
Josh: It’s a bit of play. It was fun in the training center where they had all the different apparatuses to climb on. That was pretty fun. But honestly, once we were in the games it was tough. The weather was one of the hardest elements because it was so hot all the time. We had these jackets that were not conducive to being cool. That was one of the bigger challenges; dealing with the weather.
Josh Hutcherson as Peeta
Courtesy of Lions Gate
Kidzworld: What do you think it is about the books that has resonated with the fans?
- Liam: It’s a lot of things. Any great story you put up on screen has to have strong characters, and this story has many strong characters; characters you care about who are in terrible situations that you want to see them get out of. As an audience member myself and as a fan, as I was reading the books, I felt for these characters; this innocent girl who’s taken a bullet for her sister and is now in these horrible games. I wanted to see her get out and survive.
- Josh: The way Suzanne writes, she doesn’t talk down to her audience, and a lot of times, in younger-aimed books, authors talk down to the audience. But now, kids and teens are getting so advanced; like my little brother’s 15, and I can talk to him like he’s you. Suzanne recognized that so she didn’t write a book for kids or for teens. She just wrote a good book. Because of that, it transcends the demographics.
Kidzworld: How do you make something as bizarre as the Games seem so real?
- Josh: Even though the situation was far-fetched, the emotions they were going through weren’t. In one way or another, everyone can relate to the idea of having to leave your family and possibly going somewhere and you might not be coming back. The emotions were very human and real. There wasn’t a lot of green-screen. Gary [Ross, the director] kept it really contained. There were a lot of set pieces and whatnot. The emotions are something we all go through.
Kidzworld: How did get the role, Liam?
- Liam: We both got the parts in very similar ways. We both heard the film was going into production and we read the books. I met with Gary and had a reading with him and he was fantastic. I’ve been a fan of him for a long time.
Kidzworld: How did you get the meeting with him?
- Liam: Someone asked me to come [laughter]. Not sure who it was exactly. I saw Josh at the first reading and we met a few times and then we got called back a week later, and saw each other again.
Kidzworld: When you were teens, did you have any post-apocalyptic movies or books you liked?
- Josh: I loved Total Recall and Bladerunner. I always loved those worlds, the idea that things were changing and you could be the last remaining (survivor). It’s a cool concept.
- Liam: I was a big Back to the Future fan but that’s not really post-apocalyptic.
Kidzworld: Was it weird to be part of The Hunger Games all day then go back to your regular lives? Your lives might soon change when everyone recognizes you.
- Josh: As an actor, your goal is to become successful and for people to see your work, and with that comes a certain public notoriety. And with a project like this, with the fan following for the books and whatnot, you’re kind of thrust in the middle of that a little more quickly rather than over the course of 10-20 years.
Regardless, my goal is for people to see my work and with this, that’s hopefully, what they’ll be able to do. As far as any similarity between the Games and having every move watched and coming out here and being a celebrity, I think I’m like Peeta in that I don’t want to change. I still want to do what I want to do and be true to myself.
Kidzworld: The Games raise some interesting questions like could I kill to survive?
- Josh: Yeah, that’s tough.
- Liam: It raises some pretty tough questions. I don’t think anyone could answer it until they were in that position. I don’t want to tell you if I could kill someone. You’d think I’m a murderer.
- Josh: He is.
- Liam: I am one. I’ve killed a few people. That’s off the record. [laughter]
- Josh: Yeah, the things I’d possibly kill for is my family. That’s the number one thing. That is sort of what Katniss is doing. She’s fighting for her family and fighting to get back to them. That would be my thing; I could do it if someone was trying to hurt my family. I’d need to be there for them.
Kidzworld: Liam, Gale is a rebel against the evil authorities in the film. Does abuse of power piss you off, personally?
- Liam: Yeah, there are things. My dad has worked for child protection and human services for 22 years and I’m a part of the child protection program. So I feel very strongly about that and preventing kids from being abused in any way.
- Josh: Awesome.
The actors on their mall tour
Kidzworld: You two didn’t really work together did you?
- Josh: Not really.
- Liam: We crossed each other’s paths.
Kidzworld: But, Josh, you worked with his brother Chris?
- Josh: I did [in Red Dawn].
Kidzworld: Compare the two of them like Liam wasn’t here.
- Josh: But he is so let’s see. Chris and I got along really well on set for Red Dawn. We worked together a lot on that so we got really close. Actually, I had Chris over to my house for a few barbecues. His brother came along so I got to hang out with Liam some. They’re both really good guys and really fun to be around and work with. We’re all pretty like-minded and have similar dispositions of what we like to do in situations. So it was very easy for us on the whole.
Kidzworld: You’ve got Red Dawn finally coming out. You were like 16 when you made it. Can you tell us a little about it? How have they modernized it since the 1980’s version?
- Josh: Yeah. It’s a modernized version of the same story. A country invades the U.S. and it’s these teens and young adults band together to fight back against something bigger than them, which seems to be kind of the feeling in The Hunger Games as well. It’s another rebellion kind of thing so I’m becoming a rebellious kind of guy.
Kidzworld: Was this project what you expected once you got into shooting?
- Liam: The expectation since we signed on has grown more and more as it’s gone on. I was extremely excited to work with Jennifer and Gary Ross. Jennifer of course is amazing. And Gary Ross is a ridiculously talented director and working with him was so great as an actor because he was so open to our ideas. It was really a lot of fun on set.
- Josh: My biggest surprise was that you have such a big following because of the books, and I thought when we got on set we’d have to be very specific about what we would do and very much sticking to the book of rules. But I really felt with Gary and the producing team we had there was a lot of creative freedom and I had a good sense of collaboration, which is nice because then you get to bring your own thing to the character and not just be like “you have to do this.” It was good.
Kidzworld: On a film franchise like this, do you worry about signing autographs for this 30 years from now or are you afraid that this will be the last one?
- Liam: That would be more scary and embarrassing. That’s going to really suck if that happens. Hopefully, we’ll be known for other work.
- Josh: That’s what I want to do….sign autographs (for this) in 40 years. [laughter]
By: Lynn Barker