There's a new feature on Mockingjay Part 1 in L.A. Times' Hero Complex. Director Francis Lawrence and producer Nina Jacobson talk about everything from Katniss Everdeen to what Julianne Moore added to the films, and the challenges they faced filming the final 2 installments of The Hunger Games franchise.
From L.A. Times Hero Complex:
In a barren Georgia warehouse on a cold January day, Jennifer Lawrence was doing something unusual for the young Oscar winner. She was acting very, very badly.
Lawrence was filming a scene for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, in which her strident archer Katniss Everdeen was attempting to summon righteous indignation for a propaganda piece designed to stoke a nascent uprising.
Katniss may be many things — a fierce warrior, a devoted sister, a reluctant symbol of hope — but a talented thespian she is not, and Lawrence was giving it her all.
“She was very good at it,” director Francis Lawrence recalled of his star’s ability to turn in an intentionally lousy performance. “We had a bunch of variations, but we didn’t want to go too far. Some were really broad and funny but not quite tonally right for the movie…. It was a nice couple of days of laughter on set.”
On Katniss Everdeen in Part 1:
“Katniss represents to me a movement and an awareness for our younger generation — she possesses strength, compassion and the bravery to do what’s right even when it’s not easy,” Jennifer Lawrence wrote in an email. (which sounds really nice and also like it was written by her publicist!- PP)
“She is a lightning rod in the movies, she is a lightning rod in real life as a character,” added Hunger Games producer Nina Jacobson. “People relate to her…. I’m moved by the degree to which Katniss embodies the ability of one person no matter how flawed, how complicated [to] make an enormous impact just by doing the right thing when given the choice.”
“She’s gone through a lot, and she’s very alone,” director Lawrence said.
On the final 2 installments, Mockingjay Parts 1 & 2:
“That was really exciting because I think quite honestly this book and these two movies are what give meaning to the whole series,” said Lawrence, seated in his no-frills office in West L.A.
“A lot happens in the ‘Mockingjay’ book, and to try to cram it all into one movie, I think we would have never had the time to spend with the relationships and with the characters,” Jacobson said. “What we’ve tried to preserve from Suzanne’s books is a sense of a story, which is at every turn informed by the trials and tribulations of these characters. I think Francis has proven extraordinary at doing that and being able to balance … spectacle and intimacy. It’s great to try to hold on to real human experience as much as possible.”
On the challenges they faced while filming, including the loss of Philip Seymour Hoffman:
The crew faced down additional hurdles courtesy of a polar vortex that blasted Georgia with freezing rain and snow late last year. “We actually were shut down, I think, for a total of three days separate times because of ice storms,” Lawrence said. “The places we were shooting were not built for that kind of a winter…. We were always shooting in these big warehouses or basements or parking garages, and it was freezing.”
Then the sudden, shocking death of Philip Seymour Hoffman, who succumbed to a drug overdose in his New York apartment in February, delivered an emotionally devastating blow to the cast and crew. “It was really rough,” Lawrence said. “We went dark. It happened on a Sunday, and we couldn’t get everybody together on the Monday. We reorganized the schedule…. We kind of eased everybody back into work. It was also after one of those freezes. It was 10 degrees and miserable.”
Hoffman had two “substantial” scenes left to shoot, one for each film in the finale, Lawrence said, but the Oscar-winning actor’s absence was addressed largely through revisions to the Mockingjay scripts, written by Danny Strong and Peter Craig. “We gave the scenes to other people,” he said. “What we didn’t want to do was try to do any kind of digital trickery, not have a digital Phil speak and trying to patch together his voice somehow or anything like that.”
On Julianne Moore's contribution to the role of President Coin:
“Julianne had a few ideas on how to play her,” Lawrence said. “There was a quiet strength; that was one of the big things that she wanted, so you’ll notice that Coin speaks sort of softly. There’s, I guess you would say, a warmth that you might not get from her in the book that Julianne wanted to bring.”
You can read the full article over at HeroComplex.