THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE
Who's Who: New to the Games
Plutarch Heavensbee: 75th Hunger Games Gamemaker
The 75th Hunger Games feature an all-new gamemaker, Plutarch Heavensbee,
whose work is treacherously creative in all kinds of ways. Taking this key role
is one of cinema's most decorated talents: Academy Award winner and four-time
nominee Philip Seymour Hoffman.
The filmmakers were thrilled to have Hoffman take on one of the Capitol's
slyest citizens. "Plutarch is such an important character and Phillip is one of
the very best actors working right now, so we started talking to him and
fortunately, he just loved the books, and he loved this story," recalls Francis
For Hoffman, the breadth of Collins' imagination was a big lure. "I started
reading the books and was just sucked into them. I was blown away by what
Suzanne had done. So the idea of being part of bringing this whole story to the
screen in a worthy fashion interested me," he explains.
Hoffman also was intrigued to find a way to make the enigmatic Plutarch flesh
and blood. "It's challenging to take a character like this from the page into
cinematic storytelling," he remarks. "I had to kind of look into Plutarch a bit
more, outside of what the book showed me. He has all the qualities that he had
in the book, but I think he has even more now, so that was exciting."
Jennifer Lawrence especially loved having the chance to work with Hoffman.
"It's a pinch me moment as an actor if you get to do a scene with Philip Seymour
Hoffman," she comments. "I think he's arguably one of the greatest actors of our
time. He's such a smart, nice man and he embodies Plutarch in the most
Finnick Odair: 4th District Tribute
As the Quarter Quell Games begin, Katniss will soon forge an alliance with
one of the most intriguing of tributes: the brilliantly skilled but brashly
overconfident, trident-wielding Finnick Odair, who won the 65th Hunger Games
with ease when he was just 14 years old.
To play one of Panem's most popular victors, the filmmakers cast Sam Claflin,
the rising British actor seen recently in Snow White and The Huntsman. Claflin
might have seemed a surprising choice for the role, but Francis Lawrence was
convinced he had the three most important qualities required: easy charm,
striking athleticism and beneath all that, some gritty depth. "We saw tons of
people for Finnick but I always kept going back to Sam," recalls the director.
"He's a handsome, sexy, funny, athletic guy but he also can tap into real
emotional power - that's what sold me most."
Jennifer Lawrence was among those instantly won over by Claflin's take on
Finnick. "Sam has this sweet, wonderful charm to him. When you put Finnick's
sarcastic words in Sam's mouth they still come out dripping with charm and
that's a really hard thing to pull off, yet Sam does," she says. "I couldn't see
anybody else playing Finnick because he was so amazing."
Claflin felt an instant affinity for Finnick. "Finnick is a very complicated
person," he observes. "He is not someone able to easily share his feelings and
emotions because he feels that eyes are always on him. But he also is ready to
fight for what he believes is right for the future of the world that he lives
in. Ultimately, he becomes allies with Katniss, and he goes on a great journey."
Still, Katniss doesn't always respond to Finnick in the way he generally
expects. "He tries to charm the pants off of her basically and that doesn't work
out as planned," Claflin laughs. "Every other girl falls over him, but Katniss
doesn't. I think there's an element of that which intrigues him."
Weighing on Claflin throughout his performance were the expectations of
millions of eager fans who had already fallen in love with the character - which
only motivated him to train harder and push further physically and emotionally.
"There was definitely pressure on my shoulders," the actor admits. "But I can
safely say that I've never worked so hard to achieve an end result."
Beetee, Wiress, Johanna and Mags: Tributes from Districts 3, 4 and 7
The tributes who align themselves with Katniss in the Quarter Quell games are
an eclectic group from all different ages and backgrounds. Taking the role of
Beetee, the victor who won almost entirely on brains rather than brawn is
Primetime Emmy and Golden Globe winner Jeffrey Wright. Wright had just the
right mix of intelligence and verve to take on the electronic wizard. "Beetee
required a very unique individual - somebody's who's smart and methodical, and
also dangerous," Kilik says. "Jeffrey has that versatility and talent."
Wright admits he hadn't previously been caught up in The Hunger Games
phenomenon when his phone rang with an offer for the role - but that quickly
changed. "As soon as I discovered how rich this material was, how complicated
and relevant it was, I got really excited," he recalls.
He was especially intrigued by the idea of all these former warriors coming
back together into the perilous arena. "What's interesting about the way that
Suzanne Collins has drawn these characters and the way we're attempting to
portray them is that they're all, to some extent, damaged warriors. It starts to
become a real examination of the price that warriors pay for what they do,"
As for Beetee, he says: "What's driving him is his sense of mistrust against the
very idea of the Games and against the idea of a society of exclusion. He must
use his best ideas and technological know-how to try to escape."
Beetee is closely tied to the female tribute from District 3, Wiress, played
by Amanda Plummer, a Tony Award winner also known for such classic films as
Pulp Fiction and The Fisher King. "Wiress and Beetee make for a curious and
eccentric pair and working with Amanda was fantastic," says Wright. "She's such
an open actor, so generous and so fragile and their relationship becomes a very
Wiress might have a shy streak but beneath her quiet exterior lies a rather
observant mind. Plummer dove into that and says that she especially loved the
rapport with Beetee. "They have a really special relationship where Wiress has
the feeling that he's got her back and she's got his back," she says.
"Have you ever come across a soul-mate? Working with Jeffrey was kind of like
that. He's a very giving, gracious actor."
Katniss and Peeta also must try to figure out the allegiance of the highly
unpredictable, emotionally manipulative axe-thrower Johanna Mason from District
7. To take on the dauntlessly uninhibited role, the filmmakers chose Jena Malone
(Sucker Punch, Into the Wild), who is rapidly becoming a major star of both film
and theatre. Malone won them over with an audition that riveted everyone. "Her
audition was so intense, so raw and so dangerous," Nina Jacobson recalls. "There
was nobody else we could even really think about casting once we'd seen her. She
felt tough in a way that came from being damaged, not tough because she was just
trying to intimidate."
Malone says she felt an instant fascination with Johanna. "I think Johanna's
biggest strength, and the one that I was most interested in exploring, is her
unpredictability," she says. "She's not consistently angry, she's not
consistently nice. I just feel like there's this thing where you never really
know what you're going to get from her."
Also aligning with Katniss and Peeta is one of the most unusual tributes of
all: Mags, the 80 year-old former victor known for her compassion. Taking the
role is veteran actress Lynn Cohen (Eagle Eye, Munich, Sex and the City), who
says that her granddaughter and a friend both suggested she audition for it. She
soon found herself tapping into Mags' uniquely feminine form of strength. "Mags
is a female to the very end, and strong and funny and crafty," Cohen muses. "How
can you resist that? How can you resist playing such a strong woman in a film
about strong women?"
Rounding out the new group of Tributes are Alan Ritchson (Blue Mountain
State) as Gloss, the ultra-fit tribute from District 1; newcomer Stephanie Leigh
Schlund as Gloss' beautiful, self-possessed sister Cashmere; Bruno Gunn (Sons of
Anarchy) as Brutus, the bloodthirsty "Career" tribute from District 2; Meta
Golding (CSI) as Enobaria, the District 2 tribute whose teeth have been filed
into golden fangs; E. Roger Mitchell (Flight) as Chaff, the wounded tribute from
District 11, Bobby Jordan (The Watch) as the likeable woodsman Blight from
District 7 and Maria Howell (Revolution) as District 11's Seeder.
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