The Hunger Games: Catching Fire - Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth interview
Interview by Rob Carnevale
JOSH Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth talk about reprising their roles of Peeta and Gale in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and what it was like working with incoming director Francis Lawrence.
Josh also discusses why the film resonates with its audience and readers because of its powerful themes and both men discuss getting into shape for the sequel in different ways. They were speaking at a UK press conference for the film…
Q. This is an incredibly intense and powerful film that may be set in a parallel world but it does have many nods to our world in terms of surveillance, reality TV, politics, how governments work, etc. What do you feel that, in terms of the film’s ideas, resonates with audiences?
Josh Hutcherson: For me, it resonates on a lot of levels. Not only is it a very relevant theme with the elements of the politics and the idea of people coming together and rising up against something, but also with the characters themselves. Katniss is a very unlikely hero and I think that’s something that people can identify with. You see in a lot of movies a character that is a hero that has this golden rule and this higher calling but for me I feel that Katniss is someone who doesn’t necessarily want the rebellion, she doesn’t really know how to handle her feelings and emotions with the whole situation. So, it’s kind of a stepping out of the normal archetype of characters and I think it’s really interesting for people.
Q. In real-life, if Jennifer [Lawrence] was to pick one of you as a boyfriend, which one of you would she pick?
Josh Hutcherson: I was hoping you were going to ask this question. I think she would choose Liam. I do. Do you want me to argue why? Well, he’s Australian, which for me… well, you’re a criminal. No, there’s so many reasons why she’d choose Liam and not me – self-confidence being one of them obviously. I have so much! We’re like brother and sister really. That’s the answer, right there! And now it’s incestuous. I am from Kentucky [laughs]!
Liam Hemsworth: It’s a good question. I’m also very happy that you’ve asked it. I’m glad we get to go down this road right now. Jen and Josh share a bond that is pretty unlikely. We’re all like brother and sister. It’s a big happy family.
Q. Josh, we get to see Peetas developing over the course of these films – one who is a sweet and vulnerable guy and the other who is cocky when in front of the camera. As an actor growing up in the public eye, is that something you can relate to? And are you gaining confidence as a young man?
Josh Hutcherson: Yeah definitely. I think that with this world that we’ve been living in since The Hunger Games and everything, it’s very different and there’s definitely this side of yourself that you have to give to the public and to the people and there’s a side of yourself that you keep for yourself. So, I definitely identify with having the two sort of versions. But at the same time I really do feel like I’m myself most of the time when I’m talking to you guys. So, maybe that’s all a lie! I definitely identify with Peeta in so many ways. I think that what’s so great about him is that he finds a way to use his ability to talk with people and to kind of charm people, so to speak, into liking him in certain ways – so I think that’s something I can identify with [buries head]. You say some stuff and then regret it!
Q. How do you think Harry Styles or Justin Bieber would fare in The Hunger Games?
Josh Hutcherson: You mean in the Arena? Well, probably like anyone does… they’d just die. It’s a hard world in the arena. They’d die a good death. A very well sung death [laughs].
Q. How did you get into shape for the role? And is it true that Francis [Lawrence, director] wanted to man Peeta up a little bit more?
Josh Hutcherson: [Laughs] Well, no. I think that naturally the manning of Peeta happened with the story. I really do think that you see him evolve from this very vulnerable, sensitive baker to a young man with a very complex situation on his hands. I think that the world that he’s forced into makes him grow up, just because of the situations. I think that in Catching Fire his relationship with Katniss evolves a lot. You really get to see a lot more of the inner workings of that and their character dynamics. So, I think it wasn’t just a director choice… it’s a natural thing that happens with the story as a coming-of-age in a certain way.
Q. So, how did you get into shape?
Josh Hutcherson: For me, I didn’t do a whole lot for the second movie. For the first movie, I put on some weight and was working out and was eating a bunch of chicken – no asparagus because I didn’t want my pee to smell weird! But I sort of maintained that from the first to the second. The second one was very physical, especially the part in Hawaii when we shot, which was all in the games. I felt the shooting of it in itself was actually a kind of working out.
Q. And Liam, was it the same for you?
Liam Hemsworth: I did kind of the opposite to Josh. I was losing weight.
Q. What do you do when you stop filming? Do you sit around and eat cake?
Josh Hutcherson: Yeah, that’s pretty accurate.
Liam Hemsworth: I like to do exercise afterwards. I feel like… some of the time you stand around a lot on-set and get a little sluggish, so I feel like I have to go and expel energy after work – go and smash things [laughs].
Q. What’s it like having more of a background role?
Liam Hemsworth: It’s a lot easier [laughs]. It means I can watch everyone else do the work. No, I have some great stuff with Jennifer [Lawrence] in this film. I feel very lucky to work with someone like here and a director like Francis Lawrence as well. He’s one of my favourite directors I’ve ever worked with. He’s such an intelligent person and in this film you get to see the fight and the fire inside Gale. He’s a really passionate guy and he really cares about this situation that he’s in. He’s sick and tired of watching his people go through it, so he fight backs a little more in this one.
Q. What differences, if any, did you notice in the making of Catching Fire with a new director in Francis Lawrence?
Josh Hutcherson: Well, it’s interesting because on the first movie we had such an incredible dynamic with the cast and the crew and Garry [Ross] and everyone, so coming back to do it again was very exciting in a lot of ways. I was a little nervous just about having a new director because losing Gary was hard because we all loved him so much and he created such a great world. But Francis stepped in and not only stepped in and took over the world and enhanced the world that Gary created, but also with the craziness of the set that we created as actors. It was pretty manic and full of nonsense and he jumped right into it and really held his own and guided us all in a great way. So, there were times when I was definitely nervous about it. But once we were all on-set it was really great to return.
Q. And Liam?
Liam Hemsworth: He’s a really patient guy too. He deals with a lot of crazy people – good people but crazy. But he’s honestly one of the most well researched directors I’ve ever worked with. Anytime I had a disagreement with him about something, which was once, by the end of the conversation he’s always right. He really knows what he’s talking about and he knows your character and where he’s going. He knows every part of the story. So, you feel a lot of trust in him.
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