'Catching Fire': A look at the new blood
05:00 AM, Nov 21, 2013
A movie franchise centered around an annual gladiatorial death match certainly ensures fresh blood for each new installment.
“It’s one of the great things about this — there is an extremely high turnover rate for casting in these movies,” says Francis Lawrence, director of Catching Fire, the sequel to 2012’s The Hunger Games. “A lot of people tend to die.”
The new film features an enticing mix of high-cheekboned newbies such as Jena Malone and Sam Claflinand Oscar winner Philip Seymour Hoffman. Here’s a look at the newest denizens of Panem:
Jena Malone (Johanna Mason). Playing the beautiful, but mentally off-kilter, tribute from District 7, Malone was thrust into a jaw-dropping introduction she strips down from her leather outfit to nothing in an elevator with fellow tributes Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and Haymitch (Woody Harrelson).
“Talk about instant impact!” says Malone. “Thank God for Suzanne Collins. She really knows how to annihilate a scene.”
Malone, 27, worked out extensively to get in shape for the part, which required her to wear form-fitting aqua-suits in a water-filled arena.
“It’s less about wanting to look good in the wetsuit and wanting to look like a warrior,” she says. “But looking good doesn’t hurt.”
Malone also perfected her character’s proficiency in hurling an ax.
“I could stick it right in the middle of the bull’s-eye for real,” says Malone. “I haven’t kept it up, but I hope it’s like riding a bike.”
Sam Claflin (Finnick Odair).Claflin plays the star tribute from District 4, one of the most popular characters in Collins’ novels. The outcry over his casting reached Ben Affleck/Batman proportions in Claflin’s eyes.
“It wasn’t far off,” he says. “People were happily tweeting away to me that they were going to kill themselves.”
Claflin, 27, put new life into the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, appearing in 2011’s On Stranger Tides. The actor, who had pro soccer potential in his native England, used the outcry to get into even better shape and prepare for the role.
“It really spurred me on,” he says. “It made me want to prove something to the people that did have a problem with my casting.”
Philip Seymour Hoffman (Plutarch Heavensbee). The last Hunger Games gamesmaker, the wildly attired Seneca Crane (Wes Bentley) blew his big debut and was executed.
Director Lawrence says he needed a different personality to play the replacement, the more respected gamesmaker Plutarch. “Seneca Crane was very junior and wasn’t respected by President Snow (Donald Sutherland). Whereas Plutarch is thought of as more of a true adviser.”
Lawrence knew he needed an actor with “gravitas” to play against Sutherland’s Snow and thought of Hoffman, 46, who won a best-actor Oscar for playing Truman Capote in 2005’s Capote.
“He’s one of the best actors on the planet,” says Lawrence. “I thought he would be great at it. I just wasn’t sure he’d want to do it. But he did.”
The two agreed that Plutarch would not fancy the out-there outfits that are all the craze in the decadent Capitol.
“He’s much closer to normal than some of the other characters,” says Lawrence. “But he does wear some very burgundy outfits.”