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THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE

Who's Who: Returning to the Games
Peeta Mellark: 12th District Tribute

Just as Katniss will re-enter the Hunger Games arena and face all the questions the quest for survival raises a second time in Catching Fire, so too will Peeta Mellark, her fellow tribute, and unexpected fellow victor. Returning in the role is Josh Hutcherson, who says, "It was really exciting to experience these characters again, but in a very different kind of story and time in their lives."

Hutcherson sees Peeta, like Katniss, as still struggling to recover from all that they saw and went through just to stay alive, despite living in the comfort of Victors' Village. Still reeling from his unrequited romantic feelings for Katniss, he finds it bittersweet to head out on an expertly spun, heavily manufactured "Victors' Tour," where the two must pretend to be perfectly, madly in love. "It's really hard for us being paraded around against our will," he says. "We've both been trying to get back to our old routine but now we're different, we have notoriety and it's also tough to go back home after such intense battles. They're both going through a big transition, for sure."

Part of that transition is trying to figure out what they mean to each other going forward. "By this point, Peeta has realized that Katniss only pretended to be in love with him during the Games in order to stay alive and get back to her family," he notes. "But Peeta has always been in love with her, and will always be in love with her. That's what makes it such an interesting relationship."

That relationship will soon go through more twists, turns and tests when Peeta volunteers (in Haymitch Abernathy's place) to be the male tribute beside Katniss for the Quarter Quell Games. This time, Peeta will try to compel Katniss to trust more in others. "The whole thing is very different from the first time around because whereas they thought they were just going into the arena alone, now they are learning the importance of making strong alliances," he explains.

Hutcherson credits Francis Lawrence for adding a lot of dynamic emotions to the electric action of these all-star Hunger Games.

"Francis was so prepared, so very collaborative and yet any time you had an idea, he would always say, 'Let's try it.' He knows what he wants but, at the same time, he is willing to work with you if you have a different idea about things. The scope of the film is so much bigger this time around, yet he brings attention to every detail." Gale Hawthorne: 12th District Miner

Liam Hemsworth is back as Gale, Katniss' soul mate whom she was forced to leave behind when she volunteered for the 74th Hunger Games. He explains that Gale's life has also profoundly changed since she went away and returned a victor. "Gale's now working in the mines and he's still trying to survive. But his anger is growing more and more every day because of all these things that the Capitol is doing to the Districts and now I think he's starting to feel a responsibility to stand up to that," says Hemsworth.

But with Katniss, Gale is unclear with where he now stands. Hemsworth notes that "Gale feels like he's a bit in the dark. He's unsure as to his place in her life now that so much has changed. At the same time, when he sees his best friend having to return to the Games again, I think it lights a fire inside him. It's exciting for me because Gale's whole story is becoming more complex."

Working closely with Jennifer Lawrence made that new complexity even more intriguing, says Hemsworth. "She's great a friend of mine and that always makes the chemistry on screen stronger. She's always so energetic, and so true, she makes it easier for everyone else around her."

Hemsworth also loved having the chance to consult with Suzanne Collins herself while crafting his evolving portrait of Gale. "She's been a huge part of both movies, which is great, because it ensures the movie feels true to the characters," he says. "She's a lovely, lovely woman and she often tells me about how much she loves the character of Gale. That means a lot to me and I worked that much harder because I so want the character to make her happy, as well as the millions of fans."

Cinna, Haymitch and Effie: Team Katniss & Peeta

Also returning to give comfort and aid to Katniss and Peeta as they are so unfairly reaped for a second time, are the key members of Katniss' victorious prep team for the 74th Hunger Games: her ingenious stylist Cinna, crafty mentor Haymitch and effervescent PR handler Effie.

"I was so excited to come back," says Lenny Kravitz, the actor and rock star who as Cinna takes new risks in this film, dipping Katniss' most dazzling outfit in shades of rebellion. "This time, Cinna seems more subdued. But instead of rebelling out loud, he's saying what he has to say in his work and in what his creations for Katniss mean. He and Katniss have forged a relationship that is lasting. She trusts him and that continues in this film. He's completely devoted to Katniss and he's going to do whatever he can to make sure she gets through to the next chapter."

Since he's playing Katniss' designer, Kravitz was especially thrilled with the costumes for Catching Fire. "Our costume designer Trish Summerville did an amazing job," he says. "As for Cinna, she found a lot of things that I would wear in my real life, so Cinna and myself have gotten a bit closer as far as fashion goes!"

As the infamously unstable former victor Haymitch Abernathy, two-time Academy Award nominee Woody Harrelson also had new challenges to face in Catching Fire. "Haymitch has been on a bit of a bender since the 74th Hunger Games," Harrelson confesses. But when Katniss and Peeta must return to the arena, he begins to sober up, providing key help to both of them.

"I think he has a lot of concerns about mentoring these two again, but he comes to realize this time it's an even bigger deal because it's a very, very pivotal time in the course of their lives, in their relationship and in Panem's history," Harrelson notes.

Especially fun for Harrelson was reuniting with Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson. "The first movie we were all getting to know each other, but now we're like old friends," he says. "I'm really excited for the audience to see all of us doing our thing with even more drama and more innovative action. There's a lot of great stuff to be expected."

As the inimitably boisterous, dressed-to-the-nines Effie Trinket, Elizabeth Banks, was absolutely thrilled to take another spin through flamboyance. "I just love being Effie," she proclaims. "I love the hair, the makeup, the clothes, the whole transformation. I love that Effie provides a lot of comic relief amidst some really intense emotional stuff. And she provides another POV on the world of Panem and a fun way into that for the audience."

In Catching Fire, it is Effie who is responsible for pulling off the Victory Tour as a seamless spectacle of perfect happiness, no easy feat given the times in Panem. "She's responsible for everything that happens," Banks explains. "But as they go on their tour, they all really get to see, first hand, the effect that Katniss and Peeta are having in the Districts."

Then, as Effie starts to feel closer to Katniss and Peeta, suddenly the rules change and they are reaped again, which even she can't spin into a positive. "I think Effie feels robbed of something in a way she never has before," Banks explains. "As a citizen of the Capitol, she's never had to deal with the feelings that the districts do every year when the Hunger Games happen. Now, suddenly she feels like a caring parent who saw these two play the game beautifully and win and feels they deserve everything the Capitol guaranteed them. The inequity and unfairness of the Quarter Quell affects Effie in an unexpected way. You get to see that underneath all the glamour, she has a real heart."

As for what fans can expect from Catching Fire, Banks summarizes: "It really is about the idea of catching fire. It's about Katniss' journey from a little ember to something that is starting to spread - and everyone is getting swept up in it."

President Snow and Caesar Flickerman: Capitol Powers

At the despotic center of Panem's Capitol still lies President Snow -- a role reprised by Donald Sutherland with even more charismatic villainy as he aims to halt Katniss' growing power in the districts. Sutherland says that no matter how cold Snow can be, he intrigues him. "I have affection for Coriolanus Snow," the actor confesses. "He's a very skillful politician. Sometimes he might have to kill people, but I'm fascinated by the precision with which he works."

As for what the President thinks of Katniss, Sutherland comments: "I think he sees her as the very manifestation of a threat - and he loves it. For him, it's like a magic chess game of trying to defeat this exquisitely instinctive creature battling for freedom. He knows how shaky the framework is of this society he rules, and he knows it'll fall apart if he allows this one spark to catch fire."

Sutherland was especially excited to work with Jennifer Lawrence again as Snow's no longer quite so innocent rival. "I was thrilled to see Jennifer again," he says. "She's just the most substantial talent. Everything she does comes from her gut and it's an exquisite thing to see."

As President Snow sets in motion the Quarter Quell Games, it's up to television personality Caesar Flickerman to once again add color and verve to a process that has infuriated all the victors - and try to turn their impending nightmare into sensational television. "It's great to be back," says Stanley Tucci of his second time in the showy, media-savvy role. "It's really fun to play this kind of larger-than-life, theatrical character. At the same time the differences between what Caesar is saying and what's really happening in Catching Fire are rather disturbing."

Still, Tucci says that Katniss might have the upper hand on the Capitol's PR machinery. "She is even shrewder this time," he remarks. "And I think she proves that she really understands how to use the media and use someone like Caesar to her advantage."

As for how Caesar has justified his role in the Games to himself, Tucci ponders: "I think he walks a very fine line because he doesn't want to ruffle any feathers. He's painfully polite and, perhaps, painfully in denial at the same time. But I think he's also in awe of Katniss and Peeta, like everybody is. He knows how smart they are, and he knows how dangerous they are." Primrose Everdeen: Katniss' Sister

In The Hunger Games, Katniss volunteered to take the place of her little sister, Primrose, when she was reaped for the 74th Hunger Games. Now, Primrose is growing up and discovering her own skills as a healer. Also growing up rapidly is the actress who plays her, Willow Shields, who returned to set a more mature version of herself - and taller by nearly a foot. "I've definitely grown up with the character," laughs Shields.

As Catching Fire begins, Shields explains that Primrose has developed her own talents. "She's following in the footsteps of her mom, and she's become like a doctor for District 12. She's in the process of becoming a very strong person after everything she's been through with Katniss."

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