Ever wanted to know what it's like being crammed in a frenzied group of 1,500 fans waiting anxiously for a glimpse of actors from one of this year's most anticipated films? Well, now WE know, anyway. The first stop on Lionsgate's four-city Victory Tour celebrating the November 22 release of Catching Fire happened yesterday in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, so we naturally had to see what all the excitement was about.
As the crowd gathered at the Cherry Hill Mall Grand Court, Quarter Quell Tributes Jena Malone (Johanna Mason), Sam Claflin (Finnick Odair), Bruno Gunn (Brutus), Meta Golding (Enobaria) and Jeffrey Wright (Beetee) appeared to answer fan questions and sign posters for the incredibly amped audience.
We managed to grab a few minutes of one-on-one time with them, as they revealed more about their characters, their excitement for Catching Fire and how work is going on the now-filming, two-part sequels for Mockingjay.
Sam Claflin, Finnick – District 4
Last time we spoke you said you were nervous for fans to see your take on Finnick. Having seen the film now, are you still nervous?
I’m still nervous. I think I’d be a different person if not. I’m not a confident guy. I have my insecurities, as do most actors. By no means would I ever think anything is perfect. I strive for perfection and it’s just made me want to work harder for the upcoming one.
You’re shooting Mockingjay now. How does that one feel different from Catching Fire?
What’s great for me personally is that every character comes back in a very, very different situation than where we leave the film in Catching Fire. I’m looking forward to divulging further Finnick insecurities and his darker side, which I think a lot of people can relate to. For me as an actor, I enjoy that a lot more than playing the straight-laced, cocky kind of guy. I prefer to play a darker soul.
Finnick’s true love is Annie Cresta, played by Stef Dawson. Did you have an audition together?
I’ve actually still yet to meet her! I’ve heard very, very good things from the producers, the directors and the other cast members who have had the opportunity to meet her. It’s going to be a match made in heaven, what can I say? [Laughs]
Jeffrey Wright, Beetee - District 3
Beetee is a tech genius. How tech savvy are you?
I’m reasonably tech savvy. I know which way a current flows and can figure out how to make that work for my purposes. But Beetee is more of a Tesla disciple, tech-savvy guy. He’s on another level and has his own expertise that I don’t even try to approach.
Does shooting Mockingjay feel like a tonal departure from Catching Fire?
It’s very much a continuation. It’s very much a different element of the story. It becomes much more focused on the dismantling of the society and an examination of war.
Bruno Gunn, Brutus – District 2
Aside from the physicality, how did you bring Brutus to life?
It was about building a backstory for him. For example, who are his parents? Does he have brothers and sisters? Who were they? I wanted to find moments where I could bring some vulnerability to him and show that he’s just like everyone else. He’s a superior, big, strong guy but there’s something going on underneath and feelings are registering so I found moments where I could shed some light on that. Every one of them goes into the Arena, do or die.
What are your favorite moments in Catching Fire?
For me, when do you get to ride in a chariot? It’s a chariot for crying out loud, like Ben Hur! It was one of my favorite scenes. Also the Arena is something special. It’s a different group of Tributes. These aren’t kids. We’ve all killed and we’ve all tasted blood so it’s a whole different setup.
Meta Golding, Enobaria – District 2
Aside from Enobaria’s signature sharpened teeth, what makes her different?
She was a Victor and up to these games she’s been training kids. She needed to be in great shape and understand the game so well. She’s not a mother but she has all these little kids she is raising. I really wanted that to be part of her. When people say she’s a baddie, I say, "She’s not a baddie. She’s a badass!" She knows the game and studies it.
How did shooting the Arena in Hawaii, as opposed to the Cornucopia sequence in Georgia, affect your performance?
It was incredible. I shot what I thought was my most important scene there, which is the ending. Nature is all about being visceral. Having been on soundstages (some were outside but were still manmade), then to be out in the jungle where it’s all about instinct, brought out [the reality].
The tour stops in Miami today, Minneapolis tomorrow and Houston on Wednesday. For more details and how you can win a chance to participate in a live Google+ Hangout with the cast, click here.
From left: Bruno Gunn, Meta Golding, Sam Claflin, Jena Malone and Jeffrey Wright
images c. Tara Bennett
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