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Mockingjay - Part 1 Cast Answers The Call

Nov 17, 2014

By: Lynn Barker

To catch you up: Following her rescue from the devastating Quarter Quell, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) awakes in the complex beneath the supposedly destroyed District 13. Her home, District 12, has been reduced to rubble and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) is now the brainwashed captive of President Snow (Donald Sutherland).

Some of theThe Mockingkay cast at the interviewSome of theThe Mockingkay cast at the interviewCourtesy of Lionsgate

Katniss is meant to be “The Mockingjay,” the symbol of revolution, the hope that the Districts can unite to destroy Snow and his totalitarian government but who will be lost in the process and can Peeta be saved? There is less action this time around but more emotion as Katniss discovers what she means to the people and everyone learns the horrible power of political propaganda.

In New York City, much of the cast gathered to talk to reporters. Picture a stage full of modern white chairs and almost the entire cast dressed in classy black. Check out what Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Sam Claflin, Willow Shields, Julianne Moore, Donald Sutherland and Natalie Dormer who plays revolutionary Cressida, had to say!

Josh Hutcherson, Jennifer Lawrence and Liam HemsworthJosh Hutcherson, Jennifer Lawrence and Liam HemsworthCourtesy of Lionsgate

Q: Jennifer, you have to try to be a bad actress when Katniss has to do propaganda TV spots. Was that weird?

  • Jennifer: It’s odd to act like you’re acting in a movie which I’d never done before; acting badly but make it look genuine. I got nervous about that too but like the Night Terrors, I just showed up and (Director) Francis (Lawrence) forced me to do it. We just did it. It’s easy. Anybody can do it (laughter).

Q: Josh, how did you find out that Julianne, one of your two moms from your movie The Kids Are All Right was going to play President Coin of District 13?

  • Josh: I think my mom saw the announcement come through on the internet and told me and I was like “Oh, that’s awesome!” I had no idea something like that was going to happen but when I first saw her on set it was like (he makes hugging motion) “Mom, you got elected! Congratulations. Where is mom number two”?

Q: Julianne, you have a 12-year-old daughter. Are you getting major points from her for being in this movie?

  • Julianne: Oh my gosh yes, and I also have a son who is about to be 17 and he was the first one to read the books. I bought him “Mockingjay” and came home “Honey, here’s that book from the series you like”. He was younger then and, at the time you just wanted to encourage kids to read what they love and he adored it and was in line for the first midnight showing of The Hunger Games in New York City.  
  • Then when my daughter started reading the books, she was ten and we were on vacation and I picked up her copy and thought “these are amazing!”. I just tore through them. Then I called my manager to see who was playing President Coin. That’s how it happened.

President Coin with Plutarch HeavensbeePresident Coin with Plutarch HeavensbeeCourtesy of Lionsgate

Q: Willow, you are a few months away from turning 15 which is the age Katniss was in the first book. Are you finding that, as the years go by, these movies are speaking to you personally a little more?

  • Willow: Yeah, definitely. I think it’s cool to have grown alongside my character because I feel like, as Prim has grown up, she’s gotten stronger and more like Katniss and I feel like I’ve gotten stronger as a person too. So, to grow alongside my character has been fun. I think that Prim is kind of following in Katniss’ footsteps in a little bit of a different way.

Q: Sam, Finnick is a very different guy in this movie than he was in Catching Fire. The sheen is gone and he’s a damaged dude. What was it like for you to play him in this different realm?

  • Sam: I think the best example of Finnick and his journey is he’s very similar to Marilyn Monroe (laughter). In front of the cameras, in public, he’s a very different person. He puts up a front, puts up a guard and allows himself to become someone completely different. Behind closed doors, he’s damaged, he’s vulnerable. He’s sensitive and broken in a sense. Not that I watched every Marilyn Monroe film in the world but that was some inspiration to me.
  • Josh: But that’s so true. His inspiration was Marilyn Monroe. That’s great!
  • Sam: It did really inform me as to what he would be like. This time ‘round it’s a very different approach to the character but it’s nice to have the opportunity to show both sides of the coin.

Peeta, a captive of the CapitolPeeta, a captive of the CapitolCourtesy of Lionsgate

Q: Donald what do you love about playing moves and countermoves versus Katniss?

  • Donald: Well, it’s a chess game and certainly, with Katniss she’s not actually playing chess but she’s making moves and I’m playing chess with her. It certainly doesn’t define their relationship but it defines the activity in their relationship. (President Snow) is someone who, at the end of his life, has been made aware of a particular kind of genius whether it’s Joan of Arc or Jesus Christ or whomever, it’s very difficult to let (his world) go. He has to destroy her but it’s very difficult for him.

President Snow in his officePresident Snow in his officeCourtesy of Lionsgate

Q: Jennifer, you’ve been really action-oriented in the first films but, with this one, there is more emotion and acting with your face, your eyes. How different is Mockingjay from the other films?

  • Jennifer: There was a lot less action in the two Mockingjay movies. She was in a very different place emotionally at the beginning of these films. The Games have completely changed her so she has to totally rebuild herself so there wasn’t as much action. This time more of her reaction to everything.

Q: These films are very “adult” in the issues they deal with; political upheaval, social problems; a Fascist regime versus freedom. How do you feel about how Katniss handles that, Jennifer?

  • Jennifer: Katniss is representing the consequences of war. It’s not that she doesn’t believe in what President Coin wants (her brand of freedom). It’s not that she doesn’t believe that the Capitol is a terrible government that’s only good for one percent of people, but war is complicated and affects everyone on both sides. We have two completely opposing sides and she is the one person caught in the middle who is feeling the pain from both. There really is no right way to start or end a war.
  • Julianne: But that’s what fascinated me most about the books as a parent, because when I read them I was really struck by the political allegory and that’s very unusual in YA books. These are political books with adolescent overtones.
  • The thing about dystopias is whether or not we have free will as human beings and for (tweens and teens) in particular, that’s a time when that idea is looming pretty large because you haven’t had free will. You are in your parents’ house and looking to those next few years when you’re on your own and who you’re going to be as a human being. What are your moral and romantic choices going to be?
  • So, here you have this central character who is trying to decide who she is going to be personally and politically and it’s fascinating. It’s wonderful and Suzanne Collins also sets up this idea about freedom and totalitarianism and how you move from one to the other. I think it’s amazing. These are ideas we all think about.

Jennifer with Donald Sutherland and Julianne Moore in BKGJennifer with Donald Sutherland and Julianne Moore in BKGCourtesy of Lionsgate

Q: So true. On a lighter note, what is this we hear about Jennifer eating onions then going into a kissing scene?

  • Liam: I think she would tell me what she ate.
  • Jennifer: I think the scene you’re referring to was I’d just had a sandwich with mustard and raw onion.
  • Liam: And she’d say “I didn’t brush my teeth”.
  • Jennifer: Fair warning.
  • Liam: It was all good.

Katniss and Gale on a mission Katniss and Gale on a missionCourtesy of Lionsgate

Q: One of President Coins’ lines is “There is no progress without compromise”. How do you actors feel about that in your own lives?

  • Josh: It think there is no progress or even life without compromise. I think everything you do, there is some sort of compromise. I think for us (actors) personally, there is some type of compromise that happens with public attention or a loss of anonymity when you go somewhere.
  • Jennifer: That’s the easiest way to say it.
  • Donald: Don’t compromise your passion.

A crowd salutes the MockingjayA crowd salutes the MockingjayCourtesy of Lionsgate

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

  • Liam: He’s a pretty brave guy. I would consider myself brave in some ways but I think he acts impulsively and instinctually a lot. I guess you would like to think and hope you would act that bravely in that situation but I don’t know. I haven’t had to fight a war.
  • Josh: I don’t know what I’d be like going through what Peeta goes through being tortured and brainwashed and everything. I think he fights his way back with the love and support of others so I guess his ability to fight through extremely adverse challenges is something I admire and I’m also not that good of a baker. (laughter). I’d like to be better at that.
  • Jennifer: Me too!
  • Liam: My first job was as a baker. I used to make bread.
  • Jennifer: He looks through a magazine and says “I used to lay floors”. He’s done everything.
  • Liam: I’m an old soul.

Q: What was the most difficult scene you had to do and most enjoyable?

  • Jennifer: Most difficult was singing and most enjoyable is when we’re all together but we’re usually doing something miserable. There was a scene in a meadow that was really beautiful. I’ve got a selfie of me peeing in it. (laughter). The control room scene was fun. It was a really cool set. Oh yeah, worse than the singing was watching those videos of Josh, over and over and over. I was like “I get it!  Just put on a piece of tape and I’ll start crying! I swear I’ll do it! I just can’t watch my baby in pain this much!”
  • Josh: Probably because it was such bad acting too.
  • Jennifer: No, it was just the same thing and so long and I started mouthing it along with you. I was miserable.

The Mockingjay risesThe Mockingjay risesCourtesy of Lionsgate

Q: How did you feel knowing these movies are coming to an end?

  • Liam: I think the last couple of weeks we realized that it was going to finish and that was ending. We’d been shooting for a year and we were ready to have a break. Jennifer and I, the last week we were shooting in Berlin, we started to talk about the realization that it was going to end and it was really emotional.
  • Jennifer: It was complicated because it was such a long shoot. We were there for ten months and it was hard and exhausting. There was a part of us that wanted to give our bodies a break but we realized that, when it was over, we weren’t going to go away and do other stuff then always come back to (Hunger Games) and see each other again. We realized that was going to be gone.
  • It was a complicated mix of feelings; relief on one end because we were so exhausted but so sad. I mean we are still best friends. We see each other all the time, way too much (laughter) but it’s different. If all I ever got from this was this friendship with Josh and Liam I would be the happiest person in the entire world. It was a great blessing that our lives changed together and we had each other. They called “wrap” and I just started sobbing. (the guys lean in to comfort her).  

Effie Trinket stripped of all her fineryEffie Trinket stripped of all her fineryCourtesy of Lionsgate

Q: What do you want people to say about The Hunger Games in ten years?

  • Josh: It was the best movie franchise in the history of the world ….just kidding.
  • Jennifer: They’re all still rich (laughter). I’m kidding.

Q: Natalie, we haven’t heard from you. I loved your look, shaved head and tats. How did you react when you saw what they would do to you?

  • Natalie: I was really impressed with the amazing, Oscar-winning make-up designer Ve Neill. Ve looks after Jen a lot and Jen and I were in the make-up trailer getting stuff done.
  • Jennifer: I was there when they shaved your head.
  • Natalie: You were?
  • Jennifer: I was like “Dude, are you sure?” (laughter)
  • Natalie: You were very supportive. Hair and make-up were very supportive. Well it was nice in Mockingjay - Part 1 because you meet people in Plutarch’s underground; people who are Capitol residents such as Cressida who have the genuine political conviction to overthrow Snow and run a new government so I think that tattoo that Suzanne Collins came up with is a nice nod to where Cressida comes from. There are people from the Capitol that are freedom fighters and want to unite all the Districts together.

Natalie Dormer as CressidaNatalie Dormer as CressidaCourtesy of Lionsgate

Q: Jennifer and Liam, what did you learn about yourself or from each other throughout the process?

  • Liam: One thing I learned from Jen is to stay in the moment and be honest and never change for the wrong reason. Just be yourself. She was always herself and honest and enjoyed what she was doing and was happy in the moment. One reason she’s is such a great actress is she adapts to a situation so easily.
  • Jennifer: Aww, thanks. I think what surprised me about Liam is I would never expect to have a man this good looking ever be my best friend (laughter). I just never assumed those things could happen but he is. He’s the most loveable, family-oriented, sweet, hilarious guy. He actually taught me how to be fair but to stand up for myself. I can be a wimp about that and Liam is always fair. I used to let people walk all over me and he’s teaching me to toughen up a little bit which is important and I needed that.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 PosterThe Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 PosterCourtesy of Lionsgate

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 is in theaters November 21st!