Director Francis Lawrence, producer Nina Jacobson and from the cast, Willow Shields, Sam Claflin, Jeffrey Wright, Mahershala Ali, Julianne Moore, Donald Sutherland, Natalie Dormer, Liam Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson and Jennifer Lawrence all participated in an hour long press conference to promote ‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1″ out this Friday.
The worldwide phenomenon of The Hunger Games continues to set the world on fire with The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1, which finds Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) in District 13 after she literally shatters the games forever. Under the leadership of President Coin (Julianne Moore) and the advice of her trusted friends, Katniss spreads her wings as she fights to save Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) and a nation moved by her courage. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 is directed by Francis Lawrence from a screenplay by Peter Craig and Danny Strong, from an adaptation by Suzanne Collins and produced by Nina Jacobson’s Color Force in tandem with producer Jon Kilik. The novel on which the film is based is the third in a trilogy written by Suzanne Collins that has over 65 million copies in print in the U.S. alone.
Francis and Nina I want to start with you. The third film is definitely less action oriented of course because there’s no Arena scenes but a lot more raw emotion. How did the two of you see this film in the overall context of the story?
Francis: Well I think you know this half of Mockingjay is really about Katniss discovering what she means to the people of all the districts and really finally taking on the responsibility in her role in this revolution and it also gave us a chance to explore the idea of one of the facets of war which is propaganda in the manipulation of the images and the manipulation of both Peeta and Katniss in that war of the airwaves.
How about you?
Nina: I also think that this movie is a natural outgrowth of the events of the first two movies and we try to always approach it as though, if these events occurred how would human beings actually react and what would you go through if the demands that are placed on Katniss were placed on you and how would you be after two you know wars/games and knowing that now you’re being put in a position to try to encourage your entire country to go to war and so we just tried to keep it emotionally honest.
You mention the propaganda and that is one of the interesting things these propaganda propos the films that are produce that Natalie, your character produces but Jennifer you’re asked to do is be a bad actress in the first propos, aren’t you?
Jennifer: Took me second to realize what you’re talking about and I was like “Whoa”.
I mean Katniss was pretty horrible at those first one, how did you get into the mindset of being a bad actress?
Jennifer: Thank you. I didn’t know, it’s odd even just to act like you’re acting in a movie which I’ve never done before and act badly but make it look I mean I don’t know … I got nervous about that too but then you know like the night terrors I just showed up Francis forced me to do it [laugh] and then you know we just did it. It’s easy, anybody can do it.
Josh how did you find out that one of your mom’s from “The Kids Are All Right” was going to be President Coin?
Julianne: That’s weird, come on!
Josh: I found out I think like you know my mom or whoever saw the thing come through on the internet told me and I was like “Oh that’s awesome,” I had no idea that was going to happen but when I first saw her on set it was like you know “Mom, you got elected Congratulations!” Where’s mom number two? [laugh]
Julianne you have a 12 year old daughter.
Are you winning major cool points for being in this movie?
Julianne: Oh my God! And a son, he’s about to be 17 so he was the one who first read the books actually. I bought him the third volume, I bought him Mockingjay in the bookstore, I came home “Honey here’s that book from the series you like” because he was young at that time. You just want to encourage them to read what they love and he adored it and was online for the first midnight show of “Hunger Games” in New York City. And then my daughter read the books few years ago, she was 10 when she started reading I actually picked up a copy because we were on vacation and they’re playing Ping-Pong and I had nothing to read so I picked it up and I was like “These are amazing!” I just tore through them and then I called my manager to see who was playing Coin, that’s how it happened I swear to God.
And Willow you’re a few months away from turning 15.
So you’re approaching the age that Katniss is in the first book. Do you find that as the years have gone by that these movies are speaking to you personally more and more?
Willow: Yeah definitely I mean I think it’s cool to have grown alongside my character because I feel like as Prim has grown up she’s gotten stronger more like Katniss and I feel like I’ve gotten stronger as a person too so to grow alongside my character has been really fun and I think Prim is kind of following in Katniss’s footsteps just in a little bit of different way, which is cool.
And Sam we talked about this earlier today but Finnick is a very different guy in this movie than he was the last time. He’s a damaged dude, what was it like for you to play him in this different realm?
Sam: I think the best example of Finnick and his journey I guess is he’s very similar to Marilyn Monroe [all laugh] in a sense in front of the camera, in public he’s a character, he puts up a front, puts up a guard, you know really allows himself to become someone completely different behind closed doors he’s damaged, he’s vulnerable, sensitive, broken in a sense … not that I watched every Marilyn Monroe film but [laugh] that definitely was some inspiration to me I guess.
Sam: It’s true. I think you know it did really inform me as to what he would be like and I guess this time around you know there’s are very, very different approach to a character but it’s nice to be able to have the opportunity to show both sides of the coin you know, right Coin? President?
Donald there’s one great line that you have at a very pivotal moment and it’s so succints and you say referring to Katniss and what she’s up to moves and countermoves. In a way I think that one line sums up the entire relationship between the two of you, what do you enjoy about the dynamic in playing it?
Donald: Well I mean that’s a chess game and certainly with Katniss she’s not actually playing chess but she’s making moves and I’m playing chess with her but it certainly doesn’t define their relationship it defines the activity of their relationship but their relationship is one of someone who at the end of his life has been made aware of a particular kind of genius in the sense of Joan of Arc or Jesus Christ through whomever you know … I mean he has to destroy her, he will, but it’s very difficult.
Jennifer in this one you’re acting more with your eyes, your face expressions, so how different was it from the previous two movies where you had so much action and not as much in this one and maybe even more acting?
Jennifer: Yeah there was a lot less action in these movies and you know she’s in a very different place emotionally at the beginning of these movies, the games have completely changed her … She kind of has to totally rebuild herself so yeah there wasn’t as much action this time, more just kind of her reaction I guess to everything.
And the one arrow?
Jennifer: The one arrow is … I want to straighten something up a lot of people think that the arrow hit like a vulnerable spot in the hovercraft – it was an explosive arrow. We would never think that would be true, but anyway it’s something we should know.
I have a question in regards to the political and social sophistication of these movies just like they was in the novels. So I’d be curios for Mr. Sutherland, Ms. Moore and Ms. Lawrence to talk about it because Donald you represent the extreme and of course it’s ironical because you’re the most humanitarian person I think I’ve ever met but nevertheless you represent fascism. Julianne you represent freedom and Jennifer you’re struggling between these extremes as the way for the audience to identify with these issues too so I’m very intrigue by the specification of the young adult series of films that has these issues so I’d love to hear from the three of you on that.
Jennifer: Well my version of being caught in between the two as you said he’s representing fascism and Coin freedom – her version freedom and Katniss is representing the consequences of war, it’s not that she doesn’t believe in what President Coin wants, it’s not that she doesn’t believe that the capitol is a terrible government that’s only good for you know the 1% and blah blah blah but war is complicated and it affects everyone on both sides so I think for Katniss I think we have two very strong points – complete opposing sides and the person caught in the middle that’s feeling the pain from both that there really is no right way to start or end a war.
Julianne: But that’s what fascinated me most about the book as a parent because when I read them I was really struck by the political allegory and that’s very unusual obviously in YA and I was like “Oh my gosh, these are political books with adolescent overtones” so, and the thing about dystopia is it what it posits is whether or not we have freewill as human beings and for adolescents in particular that’s the time when that idea is looming pretty large because you haven’t had freewill. You know you’re in your parents’ house and you’re looking to those next few years you’re going to be on your own and who you’re going to be as a human being what are your moral choices going to be or what are your romantic choices going to be, so here you have the central character who’s trying to side who’s she’s going to be personally and who she’s going to be politically and that’s fascinating, it’s really, really wonderful and then Suzanne Collins also sets up this idea the difference between what about freedom and totalitarianism and how you move from one system to another. I think it’s amazing and obviously speaks you know not just to me but to millions of people because it’s wildly successful. These are ideas that we all I think, think about.
Donald: Yeah allegory is evident you know in the compassion with the United States and when I first read the script I truly wanted to be a part of this project so that I could look back at the end of my life which is pretty close and say “I was a piece of this” because for me how she has presented this dilemma to young people and demanded from them a resolution, demanded from them a participation that could change things because the world that my generation is leading everyone is a disaster in every respect you know environmentally, politically, socially, economically. So when I read it I just begged to be a part of it so that in the hope that it would be a catalyst for young people to get them off the seed of their pants that they’ve been sitting on for at least 2 generations doing nothing that somebody use these films to generate from young people an energy that will take them into the voting booths in the United States in 2016 and make people responsible, politicians responsible for their words and their actions, make them represent.
Francis by the way beautiful shooting the movie that was unbelievable. I’m sorry I followed, that was such a goofy question but I had all these serious questions written down and I saw you on Fallon last night make a reference to how awkward the kissing scenes were in the film because they said you would chew garlic and onions before the kiss.
Jennifer: That’s just how I smell [all laugh]. I wouldn’t say that I just didn’t think so much about the kissing, so I would just kind of eat whatever it was that I wanted to eat.
Liam: She’d tell me what she ate and then … Usually it’s something horrible.
Jennifer: I think that the onions you were referring to was just I just had a sandwich with mustard and raw onion.
Liam: And she’s like “and I didn’t brush my teeth so…” [All laugh].
Jennifer: It’s just a fair warning. [All laugh].
Liam: Have fun, yeah.
I have a serious question for you real quickly. I love the line that Julianne Moore says in the movie that says “There’s no progress without compromise.” I’m wondering for you as an actor in this business, how does that apply to you as an actor and taking on movies and having compromises in your own lives?
Josh: I think … there’s no life without compromise I think in everything you do there’s some sort of compromise. I think that for us personally there’s a fairly large sacrifice or compromise that happens with public attention or with a loss of anonymity when you go somewhere but I don’t know.
If we could go down the row Liam, Jennifer, Josh what quality does your character have that you wish you had but you don’t have and why?
Liam: He’s a pretty brave guy I would consider myself brave in some ways but I think he acts impulsively and instinctively a lot I don’t know, I guess you’d like to think and hope that you would act that bravely in that kind of situation but I don’t know I haven’t had to fight a war, so bravery.
Jennifer: I’d say just the same for all of us, right?
Josh: Yeah I mean I think I mean for me I don’t know what I would be like going through a Peeta goes through being tortured and brain washed and everything but I think that he fights his way back with the help of others and support of others so his ability to fight through extremely adverse challenges I think is something that I admire.
Jennifer: And you’re definitely not that good of a baker.
Josh: I’m not that good of a baker. [All laugh] that’s another quality, that’s true. Baking is the quality that I wish I possessed.
Jennifer: I do too.
Liam: My first job was a baker, I used to make bread.
Jennifer: There would be so many random things I was like flipping through magazine the other day and he was like “I used to lay those that kind of floors” it’s like you’ve lived for a 100 years.
Liam: I’m an old soul.
Hi Josh I can’t help but think it was like 6 years ago and I was talking to you about the “Journey to the Center of the Earth”? How has it been for you and for Jennifer to sort of realize your dreams here and is success everything for both of you that you expected?
Josh: How do I say this without sounding like a total idiot? I never had a plan or a goal, I’ve never really been a goal oriented person in my life. So the idea of having success or being in a movie like this was never part of my plan so to speak, my plan was always just to make interesting movies and work with interesting people and tell stories and this fell into that category so I kind of happened into this whole world just through my normal way of finding projects, but it’s been a big, big change you know when Jen says that when she was offered the role she had a few days to think about, she knew how much of a change it would be. I didn’t really think about it at all, I just knew that I love this script, love the story and loved all the people involve and so for me I was just like “Yes” and then later I was like “Oh my God, this is a big, big life change” but it’s one of those things where until you lose it, you don’t know how important it is or you can’t put a value on in it and by it I mean anonymity and once you lose that and every restaurant you go into people recognize you and all of a sudden you know that they know so many things about your life, true and not true and it’s very exposed. You feel very exposed everywhere you go and that’s a hard thing to wrap your head around and was never really a plan that I had in place from my life whatsoever.
Jennifer: It’s certainly a blessed life but there are also sacrifices but I get to do what I love and there’s a downside to every job.
Josh: I think for me it’s like we have such great friendships and relationships especially the three of us that we came up in this together from the beginning you know and we kind of experienced this massive change as one … And there’s not many people you can kind of relate to about this issue and the fact that three of us are so close and we kind of all grew up in this sort of craziness together I think helps a lot with us maintaining our sanity more or less?
Julianne: But can I talk about Josh? Just because I did know him [laugh] and in my estimation and my experience with him is he hasn’t change at all. He was, how old were you 16?
Josh: 16, yeah.
Julianne: As a 16 year old he was exceptionally articulate and talented and had drive about what he wanted to achieve personally the kind of work that he wanted to do, he’d already accomplished a tremendous amount, I’d realized that cause I’d seen all of his movies with my kids when he was a child actor. So what was great for me was just to see this person who had grown up considerably but who’s personality and work ethic and everything had remained intact. So I think from my view it’s been handled really gracefully by all of them.
We heard a lot of about the bumps and bruises of broken hand here, twisted knee here from “Catching fire.” So where there any for either “Mockingjay”?
Jennifer: Liam broke his ankle.
Liam: Yeah, it was a hairline fracture, it was still nothing to…
Jennifer: Still f— the whole day up whatever it was.
You guys were just talking about your close relationship so I wanted to know the last day of filming, we saw some pictures that were like super emotional everyone hugging. When you were getting ready to do that last day of filming did you have like a mindset of “Oh this is going to be really emotional, this is going to be really this” and did it meet your expectations and anything change?
Liam: I think the last couple of weeks we started to realize that it was going to because we’d been shooting for a year and we were kind of ready to have a break and … Jennifer and I the last week we were shooting in Berlin we started to talk about realization that it was going to end and it was really emotional.
Jennifer: Yeah it was complicated because it was such a long shoot we were there for 10 months and it was hard and exhausting, so there was like a part of smelling the barn and wanting to wrap just so we could give out bodies a break but realizing – we always had that and then we go and do other stuff and then we come back and we have each other again and realizing that it was going to be gone it was such a complicated mix of feelings because it was like relief on one end because we were exhausted but so sad … I mean we’re still best friends, we still see each other all the time way too much [laugh] but it’s different I mean I’ve never had something – if all I had was this friendship with Josh and Liam if that was all I ever got from this I mean I would be the happiest person in the entire world and my greatest blessing that our lives changed together and we had each other but having Francis as our director who’s just unbelievably talented and he’s the nicest, kindest person in the world and from the producers to the writers to the camera guys who were with us from the very beginning to the new cast that like everybody just really got along … I’ve never seen anything like it come together so beautifully with no egos and no nothing it was sad to see that go.
Josh: That’s why we’d like to an announce Hunger Games 5, 6 and 7 [all laugh].
Jennifer: I would totally do it, oh my God I don’t know what happened with the casting or with what happened with this movie but it really it was like a miracle with all the people so it was … heartbreaking you know I thought I was going to be relieved because I was so tired and then it called wrap and I just started sobbing.
What do you want your legacy as a cast to be, what do you hope people say in 10 years about the Hunger games?
Josh: It was the best franchise in the history of the world.
Jennifer: You’re still rich.
Jennifer I know in the film a lot of people look up to you as well as they do in real life and I know you seem like a pretty normal person, what is that pressure like for you?
Jennifer: I have an amazing group of people around me that I make my world. I surround myself with “no” people and people who are constantly telling me “No” and “Stop acting like that” and “You look terrible”, honest, real people. My publicist, I’ve had since I was 16 years old, they watched me grow up, they know me and genuinely do love me … I know it sounds crazy but at my agents, I have had since I was 17. I have an amazing group of friends that are not in the business, that I’ve been friends for years before any of this happened that I trust because something strange does happen that you don’t expect when you become famous it’s a very tiny thing that makes a big emotional difference that it’s just the way that people look at you because I don’t feel any different and so sometimes when you go out and you’re surrounded with a lot and you see the way that people look at you it just kind of makes you feel alienated and kind of odd, so I try to surround myself with people who never look at me that way and never fake laugh at my jokes and keep me … it’s funny because my friend is actually trying to interview to find me an assistant. One of the most important thing she’s like Jennifer hates fake laughs, never chortle, but yeah I don’t, I have fake people around me and Josh and Liam.
I’m going to toss in a question to Natalie because I haven’t heard from you yet and I’m just so intrigue by the look of Cressida particularly the shaved head and the tats, what was your first reaction when you saw maybe a sketch of what they were going to do to you?
Natalie: I was really impressed. The amazing Oscar winning make up designer Ve Neill he’s in the room I believe he’s here. Ve wave. Ve looks after Jen a lot and Jen and I were in the make-up trailer a lot together every morning getting stuff done for 2 hours.
Jennifer: I was there when he shaved your head.
Natalie: You were.
Jennifer: I was like “Dude are you sure? Oh my God, oh my God”.
Natalie: You were actually, you were really supportive. Hair and make-up were very supportive. I mean it’s nice in Mockingjay Part 1 because you meet members of Plutarch’s underground you meet people who are capitol residents such as Cressida that do have the genuine political conviction to overthrow Snow and to run a good government. So I think that tattoo Suzanne Collins came up with is a nice nod to that aesthetic past like what you were saying about Peeta’s past and his family. I think it’s a nice to where Cressida comes from but here’s a bunch of people from the capitol that want to join the freedom fighters and unite all the districts together to fight Snow so it was a nice aesthetic comment on the psychology behind that.
My question is for Jennifer and Josh, both of your characters go through such emotionally devastating scenes. I would like to know how you prepared for that and Jennifer how did that compare to preparing for singing in the movie?
Jennifer: I don’t know, we went about it and then I mean in the similar way or I read what’s going on and I talk to Francis about it, we show up on set and then we try something I mean technically that’s was how it was done, but you know I feel like I’ve said it a million times and, but it’s still the same you know Katniss is completely stripped down and is in a completely different place emotionally at the beginning of these films and kind of has to rebuild to get back to the Katniss that I know from the other two films and that doesn’t happen until you know half way through the movie but until then she doesn’t really know who she is, so kind of playing the same character that people recognize but that’s very different and yeah, Josh take it away.
Josh: Yeah I mean for me like I think the most important thing for me was really empathizing what Peeta and sort of what he had gone through and just really talking with Francis and really trying to understand what actual tortures went on and the kind of lies he’s being fed about Katniss and the rebellion, what those were. Understanding that was important for me and that was really it, just kind of talking with Francis about what Peeta went through I think was the most important part to understanding that.
Tears, they were real?
Josh: Tears were real, yes, they were. I mean once you’re in that emotionally heightened state and you feel like you’ve lost everything and the one thing that you thought that you love you’ve been brain wash to tell was like a evil monster, it’s easier you think to bring yourself at tears if you have any kind of empathy.
Jennifer: I just hold my eyes open for really long time, yeah.
So this is directed to Jennifer. I want to know how do you think your character will inspire fans that are my age?
Jennifer: You were a very well spoken. Well I hope that Katniss can inspire people your age by making this younger generation realize how powerful your voice can be and it’s hard sometimes when a large group of people … it’s easy to kind of follow the feet in front of you. It’s a lot harder sometimes to speak out and so I hope that what you take away from Katniss is to be an individual, to think for yourself and to not let other people think for you.
This movie is a lot darker than the first two so I was wondering how did you guys keep it fun and light on set in between takes when you weren’t in this heavy scenes.
Jennifer: Question is how did we keep the movie dark and heavy [laugh].
Francis: Yeah I think that’s the opposite I mean quite honestly this group in I have to say with everybody involved people are able to turn it on and off, it always stayed really fun, it really did and everybody was really good about that so there was no sort of dwelling in the mood or the emotion of any scene. There’s actually a really terrific – Jen at one point wanted to see a blooper reel because there’s a lot of fun stuff happening around on set and the editors put some things together that I had never seen before and it was a string of the moment action was called, strung together back to back and it was just insane to see everybody go from kind of laughing, cracking jokes and then you hear action they go (sound effects) right into the scene just in the moment every one of them and it was incredible to see just that instant change and it was kind of a lucky thing for all of us people were able to turn it on and off.
I’ve got a question for Sam Claflin. So Finnick’s character has been performing for the capitol a lot longer than Katniss was and he gets kind of a real cracker of a monologue in this film where I think all of the pieces sort of come together in a very short period of time. I wonder if you could talk about you know his sort of experiencing like a little bit of revenge in that speech as well as he’s trying to protect someone and all the pieces of his character kind of come together there.
Sam: Well I think that throughout this film Finnick grows in confidence and you start seeing the glint in his eye come, the charming, beautiful man that he was in the last one so I think it’s he’s confidence is back, he’s ready to fight for what he believes in, he realizes he’s not a lone wolf, he has Katniss to be inspired by. You know she’s sort of trust into the limelight immediately after kind of go through this traumatic experience where he’s left wallow in his own self-pity but I think he realizes that yeah he has something to fight for that he can make a change and something that he is able to do is trying to recruit and sort of symbolically newbies and obviously Beetee is able to distribute this message to all of thedistricts and therefore it’s an important message and important moment in Finnick’s life I guess.
Jennifer how are you linked with your character because she’s the center of the attention and in your career you are also center of attention, how do you feel connected with her?
Jennifer: I always get nervous making comparisons because Katniss is the leader of a rebellion that changes the world and I’m you know just chilling and I’m a pawn on the chess board.
Natalie: I’ll take this one because I stood next to Jennifer Lawrence for 9 months as an actress watching another actress and I stood by her as Cressida watching Katniss. Jen was saying that Katniss doesn’t have any ego nor does Jennifer Lawrence and the reason that Katniss is so compelling to an audience and charismatic is because she’s true to herself and she doesn’t suffer the BS and the superficial elements and you just said it yourself you know think for yourself, act for yourself, Jen’s getting that reputation as a young actress and she deserves and that’s why people look up to her, she’s a great role model and so as Katniss Everdeen, they’re Sympatico in that so and she can’t comment on that herself because by the very nature of her personality she wouldn’t.
Interviewee: For Jennifer and Liam, what is something you learned about yourself from the very beginning or about each other that maybe surprised you?
Liam: Something I always learned from Jen was you know to stay in the moment and be honest and never change for the wrong reasons you know just be yourself, that was something so great that I always noticed about Jen was no matter what she was just herself and she was honest and you know she enjoyed what she was doing and she was happy in the moment and I think that’s why she’s a great actress is because she adapts to a situation so easily.
Jennifer: God this is like the best press conference ever [laugh]. Natalie do you have anything to say? [All laugh] I guess the thing that surprised me is I would never expect to ever have a man this good looking ever be my best friend, I would just never assume those things could happen [laugh] but he is, he’s the most wonderful, lovable like just family oriented, sweet, hilarious, he’s amazing and he actually taught me how to be fair, but to stand up for myself that’s like my biggest weakness is with all movies, with negotiating, with just kind of anything or with people I am a wimp about standing up for myself and Liam is always fair, he’s always on time, he’s always doing his job, but he’s really good about you know making sure that everything stays fair whereas I like I used to let people walk all over me but you know he’s kind of teaching me to like toughen up a little bit which is important and I needed that, thanks buddy.
What was the most difficult scene you had to play in the movie and what is the most enjoyable scene you had to do?
Jennifer: Most difficult scene was singing, most enjoyable scene when we’re all together obviously but I was just thinking like scenery because normally when we’re all together we’re doing something miserable [laugh]. We are, we’re like in like the board room with like the fluorescent lights and it’s like “Ah where’s outside” but we had to do a scene in the meadow and it was really beautiful I got a good selfie and me peeing in it [laugh] but actually the the control room was kind of fun, it was just a really cool set and we were all together … actually worse than the singing was when I had to watch those videos of Josh like over and over and over again … Oh my God it was like 15 or 20 times I was like “I get it just put them on a piece of tape and I’ll start crying I swear, I swear I’ll do it, I can’t watch my baby in pain this much” [all laugh].
Josh: I thought you’re saying it was a bad acting? I couldn’t bear to watch you more.
Jennifer: No not bad acting, no, just the same thing over and over again and they were so long and I started memorizing at one point I thought I was mouthing along with you. I was just like “Oh it’s miserable.”