Read our preview of The Hunger Games
The big screen adaptation of Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games
hits screens on the 23rd of March, bringing the book to life for a whole new legion of fans. The film stars Jennifer Lawrence
as young Katniss Everdeen, who is forced to take her place in the Games in order to save her sister from certain death. She’s joined in the arena by Peeta Mellark, who is played by Josh Hutcherson
– another reluctant recruit who has a special past with Katniss.
Click’s Daniel Anderson caught up with Josh
last month to talk about how he went about securing the much coveted role of Peeta and what makes the series so special for fans.
CLICK: How did you get involved with the movie?
JH: I read the books when I head they were making the movies and that’s when I was first introduced to the material. And I fell in love with them; I read the whole series in like a week.
CLICK: So you hadn’t yet been called for casting or anything?
JH: Yea I just read the book because I heard they were making the movie. And after that I just decided that I had to play Peeta! Because I am him. So I went in and I auditioned and just got the part through that.
CLICK: Why did you feel you were so perfect for the part of Peeta?
JH: Peeta kind of just believes that no matter what happens to him you need to maintain what you believe in and what you stand for as a person and I feel very much the same way. And especially growing up in the acting world, you have a lot of opportunities to change what you are or what you believe in and I think for me it was always very important that I didn’t so I felt that connection with Peeta very strongly.
CLICK: So you essentially campaigned for the role because you thought you were perfect for it?!
JH: Completely! When I walked into the room for the first time, and I’ve never done this in my life, I said to Gary and Suzanne; “So I’m about to say something that I fricking hate that I’m going to say but I have to and I need to say this. I literally am Peeta. And I’m sorry because it sounds horrible to say, it’s so gross but I have to tell you I believe so much in what he is as a person and… yes there it is I got it off my chest!” So I had to tell them that!
CLICK: Well they obviously bought it anyway!
JH: I guess so, it worked, I got the job!
CLICK: What was the casting process like; I’m sure they saw a great many people.
JH: Yea I came in I had two auditions; one with Gary Ross the director and Suzanne Collins the author of the books and that went great and the next one when I came in was chemistry with Jennifer [Lawrence]. And we hit it off right away and it just worked between us. So it was awesome, a really nice process.
CLICK: Did the casting involve any physical stuff?
JH: It was just for chemistry. I think for me the past projects that they’ve seen of mine and knowing what I like to do in my personal life, they kind of knew that I was athletic and up for the challenge.
CLICK: There was some controversy when Jennifer Lawrence was cast – when people read and love the books they’re always going to have an image of what they think the character should be like. Have you had any feedback on what fans think of your casting?
JH: I don’t really go online very much which I think is a good thing because I don’t have to see anything like that. But you know I think it just goes to show how passionate people are about the project and about the books. I think that any time you have a beloved source material like this or a movie remake or a big piece of literature, people are going to have different opinions for sure.
CLICK: Well as a fan of the books as well as one of the stars now, how do you feel about the way the project has come together. Are you happy with the decisions they’ve made?
JH: Yea I really am. For me, as it was for the entire cast and crew, we wanted to make a very true to the book adaption because we love the book and I really think that we did that and every decision we made went under extreme scrutiny by everyone involved to make sure that it was the best thing for the project.
CLICK: I just finished the third book for myself and really enjoyed it.
JH: Yea – how’d you like the ending?!
CLICK: Yea, I was about to say Peeta has a tough time of it, you’re in for some seriously heavy stuff over the next few movies. Are you looking forward to that challenge?
JH: I’m so looking forward to it. That was one of my favourite things about the series, that Peeta got to go to so many interesting places and had a great character arc. I love a challenge and I really think where Peeta goes over the next while is going to be a challenge for sure – and I’m going to tackle it full force.
CLICK: Well you asked me how I felt about the ending – what about you?
JH: I thought it was good. I mean honestly I like when things aren’t tied up all neat in a bow because a lot of times in life it just happens. And I think that Suzanne Collins has the bravery as a writer to not be too worried about taking it to that place, which made it very exciting to read.
CLICK: What was the shooting like? It all came together fairly quickly, didn’t it?
JH: It did yea. I mean I was shooting about four weeks after being cast. But we all hit it off right away and it was a great experience. And even though it was a bigger movie it really felt calm on the set, almost like an indie movie. The crew was very much there because they loved the books and they loved the material and they wanted to be a part of it.
CLICK: There’s a great young cast but also some acting veterans like Donald Sutherland, Stanley Tucci and Woody Harrelson. What was it like working with them?
JH: Yea, it was amazing. I mean watching those guys act is just like acting lessons! It was incredible and they were all such great people on top of it too so it made it that much more amazing.
CLICK: Was Donald Sutherland scary on set? Because President Snow is a pretty nasty character.
JH: He is a little scary. Like he’s hilarious, he’s got a really kind of weird sense of humour, but he’s intimidating. I mean obviously not only his body of work and his presence but just his overall existence on set was a little intimidating. And the fact that he was President Snow on top of it was just kind of perfect.
CLICK: Suzanne Collins also worked on the adaptation; can you tell us if she made many changes?
JH: You know it was amazing actually, there were so few changes made and in my mind now the book and the script have become the same thing. So I couldn’t even pick them out, if they were made. I didn’t notice them enough to talk about them today. It was super important for everybody to make the most true to the book adaptation and that was our goal throughout.
CLICK: The series is being kind of mentioned in the same sentence as Twilight, probably because Twilight is just finishing, rather than anything else, do you see similarities?
JH: I understand the comparisons – it’s a book and it’s popular amongst young people and it’s a trilogy and what not but at the same time it’s such a different world. I think that people maybe want to latch onto something post Twilight, which I’m fine with, believe me! But yea it’s extremely different.
CLICK: So I suppose a big question is what does The Hunger Games have for male audiences? For people who might be wary about it being like Twilight, what would you say to them?
JH: Well I think that if you just read the synopsis of the book its nothing like Twilight. And for me, I’m a male reader and I read it and I fell in love with the story. I think the characters are extremely interesting, the world that Suzanne Collins creates is very intriguing and I was flipping the pages to find out what happened next!
CLICK: I read that you’re now committed to four films for The Hunger Games. Is that daunting?
JH: It’s exciting. I mean I love making movies and I love Peeta and to get to play that character over and over again for four movies I think is going to be great! He does to some really interesting places so I think I won’t get bored with it.
CLICK: Do you have any idea where they’re going to break the three books into three? Or would you tell me!?
JH: No I’m not sure. People have speculated the third book being split into two but I have no idea.
CLICK: A lot of the trailers so far haven’t shown a lot of the Games, which is a bit strange. Is there some sort of big reveal planned, to your knowledge.
JH: I think for me what I’ve gathered is that the plan is to show everything leading up to the Games and then it’s almost like – to see the Games you have to buy your ticket to the Games! Which I think is a genius marketing strategy. And it’s crazy because for me watching the trailers I’m really intrigued as a movie goer. And the fact that I’m intrigued only seeing half of the movie is really impressive.
CLICK: I wanted to briefly ask you about Red Dawn, which seems like a similar enough role. Are you looking forward to that finally coming out this year? You shot it a long time ago.
JH: Yes I am. It was three years ago actually we shot it! So it’s very exciting to finally have it coming out. And yea it’s a little similar, with the rebellion and rising against a government.
CLICK: Have you seen a final version of that?
JH: I saw a version of it like a year ago maybe. But I think it’s changed a little since then so I’m excited to see what adjustments they’ve made.
CLICK: Is there anything else you’re working on at the moment, or is it all The Hunger Games?
JH: The Hunger Games at the moment. I have a movie coming out April 13th called The Tension that I’m really excited about that I actually produced as well as acted in. So that was a fun process for me.
CLICK: I read that you also wanted to direct tin the future, is that true?
JH: Most definitely. I’ve always been very interested in getting behind the camera and directing, producing and kind of taking a step into that world. And I’m really excited to see what kind of things I can work on as a producer.
CLICK: I understand, in addition to Gary Ross, you also had Steven Soderbergh on set for second unit directing. Did you pick up any tips from either of them?
JH: A ton from Gary, he’s an extremely bright director and writer. I learned a million things from him. Soderbergh I didn’t get a chance to work with him at all – I met him when he was there but I wasn’t actually in second unit so I didn’t get a chance to work with him directly.
The Hunger Games is in cinemas from the 23rd of March. Check back soon for our full review.