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'The Hunger Games' Interview Round-Up: Cast Talk the Culture-Shifting Power of Dystopian Allegory (Video)

Thompson on Hollywood By Sophia Savage | Thompson on Hollywood March 20, 2012 at 4:25PM

Lionsgate's "The Hunger Games" will boast an enormous box office debut on March 23 (some are forecasting a $140 million opening). That's thanks in large part to Jennifer Lawrence's performance as Katniss Everdeen, which is earning raves. Women starved for smart entertainment aimed at them will flock to the film.
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Hunger Games, Effie Katniss

Lionsgate's "The Hunger Games" will boast an enormous box office debut on March 23 (some are forecasting a $140 million opening). That's thanks in large part to Jennifer Lawrence's performance as Katniss Everdeen, which is earning raves. Women starved for smart entertainment aimed at them will flock to the film. So will kids and their parents. The movie, which entertainingly takes on our culture's celebrity obsession and mind-numbing predilection for trash entertainment, sits at 95% Fresh. Here are early reviews, and Indiewire on the film's indie roots. (Stay tuned for TOH's interview with "Hunger Games" producer Nina Jacobson.)

Here's a roundup of interviews with the cast, who speak to the relevance and power of "The Hunger Games" as an allegory for our culture.

In an interview covered by the Seattle Times, Lawrence said that she was initially afraid that Suzanne Collins' book was going to be ruined as a movie, but was reassured when director Gary Ross came on board: "He understood that it's not a bad-ass story; it's not James Bond or Lara Croft. It's a sad, sad, horrible circumstance." She also feels it's "such an important read for our generation."

Lawrence believes that the book resonates with young adults and teens: "We're the generation that's obsessed with reality television and watching other people's tragedies for entertainment, watching people's lives fall apart while we eat popcorn." As an overnight movie star (since her Oscar-nominated breakout in Debra Granik's "Winter's Bone") and a part of a culture that dangles fame to the masses, Lawrence also understood Katniss's discomfort with the spotlight. "When I was reading the book, when [Katniss] was wearing clothes that weren't comfortable and she wasn't herself, where all of a sudden she has to make people like her, I was like, 'Huh. I know how that feels.'"

Lawrence's co-star Liam Hemsworth says: "My dad's worked in child protection for 23 years, and a big part of these stories is child abuse." What's disturbing, he says, is that in the story "no one's stopping it, no one's trying to stop it. You have people who want to stop it, but they're powerless." [Seattle Times]

Interview Magazine's Raphael Saadiq spoke to Lenny Kravitz. He landed the role of Senna based on his work in "Precious." "The film definitely represents these times—from government on down to reality television," he says. "Really, when you go back to being in junior high school and reading George Orwell’s '1984,' you’re, like, 'Man, here were are . . .' Our characters have changed, our sensibilities. We’re definitely morphing into something different."

Kravitz wouldn't be surprised if our world becomes similar to that of "The Hunger Games." He recalls watching reality TV and thinking: "One day we’re going to watch people fight to the death, like Roman times. Instead of being in a coliseum, we’re going to watch it on TV," and adds, "Who knows how twisted we’re going to get? Because our appetite grows, our thirst for excitement." He hopes that in fifty years, "we’ll go somewhere smarter and more beautiful and more peaceful, but that’s not where we’re headed at the moment. Things that would shock us years ago are like nothing now." [Interview Mag]

Collider talked with Donald Sutherland, who plays President Snow. After reading the books, he said to his wife, “I think I’ve just read something that could change everything.” The script was "a game-changer. It had the possibility, if it were properly done, to catalyze, motivate and mobilize a generation of young people who were, in my opinion, by and large, dormant in the political process. You have Occupy Wall Street, but that seems to have a limited base. I felt and I hoped that maybe this could spread out across the country. I don’t care what they do, just so long as they stand up and do something, and identify the political situation they’re in. I was thrilled at that possibility." [Collider]

In I Am Rogue's video interview with Wes Bentley (Seneca Crane), the actor says that our culture is sacrificing "our intelligence, our pride, our future" for the sake of entertainment. Video interviews with Woody Harrelson (Haymitch Abernathy), Elizabeth Banks (Effie Trinket) and Kravtiz are also below.

This article is related to: Jennifer Lawrence, Lionsgate, Lionsgate/Roadside, Box Office, Box Office, Franchises, Directors, Reviews, Reviews


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.