Returning, new 'Catching Fire' actors talk about 'Hunger Games' sequel

The Fresno BeeNovember 21, 2013 

LOS ANGELES -- The second movie based on "The Hunger Games" books, "Catching Fire," continues the adventures of Katniss Everdeen. When Katniss finds out she must return to the Games, she again turns to a small group of friends and allies.

REVIEW: "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" leaves you hungry for more

To get you ready for the new battle that awaits the bow-carrying hero, here's what some of the major players have to say about "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire":

Jennifer Lawrence

Plays: Katniss Everdeen

In the new movie: Must again face the deadly world of the Hunger Games.

What Lawrence likes about "The Hunger Games": "I was personally very excited when I first started reading these books, just that they're such a big series that young adults would be reading. I think that it has a wonderful message about how powerful one voice can be. It's very easy as a society to follow the feet in front of us and history does kind of repeat itself. I think its an important message for our younger generation to see how important they are in shaping our society and our future."

Josh Hutcherson

Plays: Peeta Mellark

In the new movie: Struggles with new Hunger Games and his feelings for Katniss.

Hutcherson talks about at moral issues in the films: "With our generation, and my younger brother's generation coming up too, they are surrounded by so much in-your-face truth from around the world. They are also told all the time by the media how they are supposed to be and what kind of people they need to be. How they should look. How they should dress. This movie shows you can go against the flow of things. That's the most important thing because that was what I did when I was a kid in Kentucky. I went against the flow of things and went for what I wanted to do in life."

Liam Hemsworth

Plays: Gale Hawthorne

In the new movie: Must deal with his emotions in a changing world.

Hemsworth shares his thoughts on the film's love triangle: "When Katniss comes back from the Games, Gale sees the post traumatic stress she's going through. He's obviously watched her fall in love with someone else, but cares deeply about her. As angry and frustrated as Gale is watching her go back into these Games, I think he understands Peeta is trying to protect her as well. I think he knows Peeta's one of her best chances at survival. That's why it's so hard to watch this emotion unfold between them."

Donald Sutherland

Plays: President Snow

In this movie: Snow reveals more of his plan to stop the growing rebellion in the 12 Districts.

Why Sutherland wanted to be in the film series: "It was essential for me, personally, that I somehow find my way to become a part of this because it more clearly represents the dangers of an oligarchy of the privileged than anything I've seen in a long, long time."

Lenny Kravitz

Plays: Cinna

In this movie: His fashion designs for Katniss show more political elements.

What Kravitz sees as the strength of the series: "First of all, it's great storytelling. You can have all these great actors and actresses and directors. At the end of the day, it is a really well written story with really good characters. I didn't know anything about 'Hunger Games' before I got the call from ("Hunger Games" director) Gary Ross. I was in the Bahamas working on music. I got this phone call about 'Hunger Games' and I had to download it and read it. Once I read it, I was hooked. I read the whole book in one night."

Sam Claflin

Plays: Finnick Odair

In this movie: Goes into 75th Hunger Games as a crowd favorite.

Claflin's thoughts on taking on the role: "I was slightly intimidated by this world that had been created very strongly by my castmates, especially approaching a character like Finnick that is described as 'some kind of god.' I had to go through some huge physical transformations. It was intimidating, but I embraced the challenge and worked as hard as I could. There was some negativity when I was cast initially, but I think now people have been turned. My goal is to turn the world. That's Finn's goal also, so I guess I have that in common with him."

Jena Malone

Plays: Johanna Mason

In this movie: She's a non-nonsense competitor who's been called back to the domed arena.

What Malone likes about her character: "I think I love every single thing about Johanna Mason. What I thought was so amazing about Johanna Mason was that she doesn't sugarcoat. She is hard core and truthful and violent and angry. All those things are not just cool aspects about her. It's not just a badass thing. It's a survival technique and that's a really interesting thing to talk about -- for young women to understand they can take on tools and personality traits that might not be their own, but they can use them in forms of survival and to elevate themselves in the world."

Jeffrey Wright

Plays: Beetee

In this movie: The strength he brings in his return to the Games is his intelligence.

Wright shares his thoughts on becoming part of the franchise: "One of the things, aside from the thematics of the story, that attracted me to this was that there had already been this extraordinary work done. I had an opportunity to piggyback on their efforts. When I was called to be a part of this, I dug in and realized there was something very interesting happening here particularly for younger audiences. This is epic moviemaking we see a lot of. At the same time there are these poignant, relative ideas being presented to young minds that I think are essential. To me it makes sense. You entertain but at the same time you supply escapism -- but a relative escapism that doesn't discount the complexities of who we are and what are world is undergoing."

Francis Lawrence

Director

In this movie: Takes over from "The Hunger Games" director Gary Ross.

On taking over "The Hunger Games" franchise: "I think one of the things I wanted to make sure of was that there was an atheistic unity to all of the movies. I thought Gary did a wonderful job with the world-building in 'Hunger Games.' So we worked with the same production designer to make sure that the capital was built from the same architecture. That District 12 still had almost the 1930s Appalachia feel. We are going to do the same thing with 'Mockingjay.' The fun thing with 'Mockingjay' is that we get to see a bunch of new districts."

TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at (559) 441-6355, rbentley@fresnobee.com or @RickBentley1 on Twitter. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com.

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