“Hunger Games”’ Tributes Tell On-Set Tales!
Kidzworld is with Cato, Clove and Rue (Alex, Isabelle and 13-year-old Amandla)
Isabelle Fuhrman as Clove, Alexander Ludwig as Cato and Amandla Stenberg as Rue charmed us at our recent interview. As feisty and sometimes cruel Tributes in the Games Cato and Clove, Alex and Isabelle might not be our favorite people but, the actors playing them are fun and friendly. Rue won our hearts in the book and will win yours in the movie. Amandla told us some funny tales of on-set antics.
Picture Amandla in a cute lime green Burberry dress (she played the young Zoe Saldana in the movie Columbiana). Alex, who was the star of Race to Witch Mountain, is all grown up and hot in a tan V-neck sweater and black slacks. Isabelle creeped us out in the psych thriller Orphan and will co-star with Super 8’s Joel Courtney in a serious family drama The Healer. She has Clove’s long black hair and is in trendy beige jacket over white tee with jeans.
Kidzworld: [shaking hands with a very tall grown up Alex] Long time since “Witch Mountain”, dude!
- Alex: Seriously, right? Oh my God.
- Isabelle: He’s gotten taller and wider.
Kidzworld: Alex and Isabelle, you guys were hanging out all friendly on set with Josh and Jen and then they say “action” and you have to go try to kick their butts and be really mean to them. Was that easy?
- Isabelle: It was like once you get into your character you just dive back into it and be that character, completely losing yourself. It helps when you’re in your costume and hair and can look in a mirror and see your character.
Kidzworld: We all know this doesn’t end well for your characters so how awesome it is it to watch that and get ready to shoot it?
- Amandla: I was very excited to do the death scene, strangely enough, It was also the day that Suzanne Collins [“Hunger Games” author] came to set so that was really exciting. We talked about the scene and really what Rue was feeling and that made it so much easier for me to do. When we saw the movie, Isabelle here was sobbing her eyes out and I was laughing at her.
- Isabelle: I kept handing my mom tissues. But the two days that we were shooting my last scene were the ones I looked forward to the entire time we were filming. You get to know who Clove is and I had this awesome fight sequence with Jen and I had trained for a week on that. On the death scene, most of the time I was trying to remember not to breathe or to blink. “How much longer till I can breathe?”.
Kidzworld: Alex, your scene also involves a great emotional thing where we see that Cato is tough but he’s really just a teen in a horrible situation. Was that fun for you as an actor?
- Alex: That scene was the sole reason why I decided to do this. Every once in a while, it’s great to try something new and dive into the dark side of humanity. That’s a reason why I loved Cato. He’s a villain in the movie but, at the end of the day, these are all innocent kids thrown into this crazy fight to survive. You see a little bit of humanity in Cato at the end and it makes you have a little hope in humanity.
Kidzworld: This movie has a very dark, sci-fi future. Did any of you have a favorite bad future book or movie when you were younger? Also a kind of sick reality TV theme is addressed in the film. Do you guys watch any of that?
- Isabelle: Okay, favorite reality TV, “Dance Moms” and “Millionaire Matchmaker” as bad as those sound.
- Amandla: Mine is probably “America’s Next Top Model” and, it’s kind of like The Hunger Games… well, people get “voted off” [we laugh].
- Alex: Guilty pleasure? “Jersey Shore”. You’re like “Are you serious? This is really happening?” Then another one I like is called “I Shouldn’t Be Alive”, crazy stories of people in horrible situations and you are like “Hasn’t this person died already?” and you keep watching. It’s crazy.
- Isabelle: On weird futures, there is this book called “Hex” with superhuman people who can talk to computers.
Kidzworld: Can you guys talk about working with Jennifer?
- Alex: She’s great, just unreal. We became huge fans on set.
- Amandla: Working with Jen was incredible because she’s hilarious. Even if we were doing something that was very serious, she would lighten the mood. She was so funny.
There was one time when we were sitting in a tree on a branch doing a kind of serious scene and it was hard to stay up on it, even though we had harnesses so we started sliding down and to stop myself from doing that, I found a little hole in the tree that I could sit in so I wouldn’t fall down. We were about to do the scene and Gary (the director) says “Action” and I yell out very loudly so everyone can hear “Wait!, I can’t find my butt hole!” [laughter].
- Isabelle: I can just see Jennifer breaking out laughing!
Kidzworld: Amandla, we heard that you rolled in the dirt to look like you were already playing the Game before your audition. True?
- Amandla: That is true. My mom took a pair of my old khakis and a t-shirt and went in the back yard and rolled them in the dirt and got grass stains all over them and got some twigs and rocks and put them in my pockets and in my hair so it was very Rue-like, like I had been trying to survive in the woods for a couple of weeks and that worked.
Kidzworld: Sure did. Did you have an on-set teacher to keep up with your schooling?
- Amandla: I did but actually, we shot during the summer which was very convenient but on the first couple of weeks when we were rehearsing and training, that was when I was still in school so we’d get home from throwing knives or working with swords and it was “Okay, time for Math”. Weird.
Kidzworld: This was different than your role as the young ‘Columbiana”.. the young Zoë Saldana. There was action but was it different?
- Amandla: My character is Columbiana was very steeled and she wouldn’t show her emotions until she finally breaks down when she finds her uncle. Rue’s different because she tries to be brave but she’s very scared and hasn’t had as much training as the girl from Columbiana has.
Kidzworld: Are any of you into making music?
- Alex: Actually I’m releasing my first single in 24 hours [it’s out now].
- Isabelle: You didn’t tell me that!
- Alex: Yeah. I write my own music and it’s always been a passion of mine since I was a little kid and, hopefully, it’s coming to life. I’m working with The Fray.
- Isabelle: I love The Fray! Why didn’t you tell me this?
- Alex: Their producer Aaron Johnson who did their work on “How to Save a Life” I’m working with him right now and the first single comes out tomorrow so I’m excited.
Kidzworld: How does that work with your acting career?
- Alex: It kind of doesn’t. That’s the way I wanted to keep it. Two very different things in my life. I wanted to get this out before The Hunger Games so it wouldn’t be that actor turned musician. I’ve always wanted to do both. The single is called “Live It Up” and one the flipside is “Teenage Wasteland”. It’s about traveling Europe with a buddy.
Kidzworld: Cool! Isabelle, you sing and play guitar too, right?
- Isabelle: Yeah but it’s more of a hobby for me, something I like to do sitting in my room after school after I’ve done my schoolwork and chores, I’ll sit on my bed and play guitar for a while. I’m not good at writing songs at all and my sister critiques me for it so much because she’s a musician. Music is something I like to do for fun.
Kidzworld: Don’t you play and sing too, Amandla?
- Amandla: Yeah. I play violin as well as drums and guitar.
Kidzworld: You guys should form a band!
- Everyone: Yeah! Sounds good.
Kidzworld: The movie has tons of violence but it is rated PG-13 and the violence is done very well. Did you ever feel like you were getting too violent in the film?
- Alex: Absolutely not.
- Isabelle: I think it’s more a story of survival than violence. It’s the story of overcoming the violence to survive the Games.
- Alex: It’s about the brains of each person as well. They try to figure out ways to survive and strategize. Cato probably has the most violence in the film. Of course the movie is going to depict things that could be risqué but they kept it quite light, I’d say.
- Isabelle: Those are just elements of the story and that’s unavoidable but it’s Katniss’s story and it’s not all about the Games. It’s written through her. You can just say it’s violent but it’s done very artfully.
- Alex: It’s a movie that the masses can see.
Kidzworld: And they will!
By: Lynn Barker