The Hunger Games series finally came to an end recently, with Mockingjay Part 2 hitting cinemas and concluding the four-part movie adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ trilogy. The story brought huge fame to the main star, Jennifer Lawrence, and also spawned a huge fandom around the world.
However, not everything is always as it seems. There are some things going on behind the scenes that you may not be aware of – and these shocking secrets put the movies in a different light. From endangering members of the cast, to the pranks played on set, right through to the hidden secrets in the movies themselves: there is a lot to discover that even hardcore fans may not be aware of. As with any blockbuster film, there was a lot of information that could only be discovered after the cinema release was safely underway.
Rumor has it that we have not seen the last of the Hunger Games universe, which is set in a country called Panem. There is now word that we will be seeing a fifth movie, which is set to be either a prequel or a sequel to the series of events portrayed in the books. We’d love to find out how President Snow came to power, watch Haymitch fight through his Hunger Games, or discover how the world can flourish after the events of the Mockingjay finale. In the meantime, these facts might make you consider the series in a different way, when you know what kind of secrets were going on out of sight.
10. Jennifer Lawrence nearly died
J-Law’s life came under threat more than once while filming the series. The first was when filming Catching Fire, as she dove into a pool of stagnant water. This caused a double ear infection, which was bad enough, resulting in pain and difficulty hearing. She then made the problem even worse when she dove into a pool full of jets to create one of the impressive water scenes. Unfortunately, one of the jets hit her directly in that same ear. She ended up being half-deaf for six whole days, imitating the events of the book series in real life.
While filming Mockingjay Part 1, she ended up with what could have been an even more serious injury. A fake fog machine caused her to start choking uncontrollably. She was certainly in danger of not making it out of that scene! She also ran full into a wall at one point, as well as choking on a set of vitamin pills she was supposed to take in one scene. Her life was only saved by Woody Harrelson performing the Heimlich Maneuver to force the pills out of her throat!
9. Philip Seymour Hoffman’s letter scene
In Mockingjay Part 2, viewers will recall a touching scene in which Haymitch reads out a letter addressed to Katniss. It was written by Plutarch Heavensbee, her ardent supporter who now had to send her away to live a life of safety while political turmoil followed her actions. The letter was a message of farewell, as well as helping her to escape with her life.
The scene is made even more poignant when you discover that it was not filmed as written. Originally, the script called for Plutarch to tell Katniss his message face to face. Sadly, the actor Philip Seymour Hoffman would pass away before it could be filmed. The script was hastily rewritten, allowing Haymitch to step in. With that knowledge in mind, it becomes a heartbreaking moment in which not only the characters bid each other farewell, but also the actors.
8. Jena Malone bared all
In Catching Fire, we were introduced to some of the past victors. At that time, there was a memorable first meeting with Johanna Mason, in which she stripped off her tribute outfit in the elevator with Katniss and Peeta. The scene tells us a lot about Johanna’s character, as well as being very humorous.
For Jena Malone, it might not have been as funny. They filmed the scene in a real elevator in a working hotel – and according to Jena, the doors of the lift opened partway through filming the scene, as some guests of the hotel were waiting to get in. How embarrassing for her!
7. Katniss inspired real riots
In Thailand and China, the release of Mockingjay Part 2 was delayed from the worldwide release date of November 2015. Why would these two countries in particular not want the film to be shown right away? Because the governments feared riots.
In China, there was some belief that the portrayal of the girl who led suppressed colonies to rise up against a central government was a little too close to the real situation in Chinese special zones like Taiwan and Macau. Meanwhile, the Thai uprising in 2014 caused anti-government protestors to adopt the three-finger salute from the movies as their own rallying call. The opening weekend was cancelled in Bangkok as fears of action against the government were well-founded.
The series was actually inspired by real conflict. Collins drew on her father’s experience in the Vietnam War, which made him feel that “it was his responsibility to make sure that all his children had an understanding about war, about its cost, its consequences,” as well as the way that the Iraqi War was portrayed on television. Interestingly, the first movie was also banned in Vietnam.
6. Continuity errors
You probably didn’t even realize it when you were watching the movies, but a lot of things changed from the first through to the last. For example, when we first meet the cat Buttercup, he’s a black and white cat, unlike the ginger in the books. By the time we reach Mockingjay Part 2, however, he has magically changed into the fluffy ginger moggy he should have been all along. Most people would not bat an eyelid, due to both the amount of time passing between the installments and the small role that Buttercup plays.
There’s also a big difference in President Snow’s greenhouse. At first we saw an outdoor garden full of white roses, open to the air and away from the other presidential buildings. In the final installment, however, all of the roses are imprisoned within the large glass greenhouse, with no sign of gardens anywhere outside of this area.
5. Jennifer Lawrence played disgusting pranks
For any co-stars sharing the screen across a series of movies, it can be difficult to approach the many love scenes that they will have to act out. In particular, the Hunger Games series saw the love triangle between Katniss, Peeta, and Gale. With Jennifer Lawrence having to kiss both of her co-stars multiple times, she found a way to make it even more awkward for them than it already was.
She would deliberately go out of her way to eat either garlic or tuna before the scenes were due to be filmed, meaning that Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth had to not only overcome the weirdness of kissing their friend – but also to overcome the awful smell of her breath! That certainly gives those tender scenes a different impression!
4. Some shocking effects were CGI
In the world of acting, dramatic weight loss or gain is a regular occurrence. Actors are always bulking up or slimming down to suit a role, something that is often considered to be Oscar bait. At the end of the first Mockingjay film, a much thinner Peeta and Johanna Mason appeared, after months of torture at the hands of President Snow.
Peeta’s condition in particular made him look very frail, while Johanna had lost all of her hair. But neither actor actually had to go through any physical hardship to achieve this look. Both their new, thin physiques and the loss of hair was achieved through CGI. Behind all of that, the actors actually looked no different than normal!
3. Creepy hidden references
This is one that would have eluded all but the most eagle-eyed of viewers, but when you see it, it will make you shiver. Remember back in the first movie, when Seneca Crane failed to get a single victor from the Hunger Games due to Katniss’ defiance – and he was punished by being forced to eat poisoned berries?
In Mockingjay Part 2, when the victors all gather together at the circular table, keep an eye on the background. At one point, behind Katniss’ head, you will see the very same bowl that held those berries. The inclusion is very subtle, but it adds a dangerous overtone to the scene. The inference is that if Katniss put a foot wrong, she may have ended up serving a similar fate.
2. Woody Harrelson’s kiss
Towards the end of Mockingjay Part 2, fans were delighted to see Haymitch Abernathy finally take the plunge and kiss Effie right on the mouth as a goodbye. This really pleased those who sensed a secret romance between the two, and were disappointed not to see them end up together in the books.
However, they weren’t exactly supposed to be lovey-dovey in the films, either. When it came time to film the scene, Woody Harrelson just decided to ad-lib kissing Effie, even though the script didn’t call for it. He felt it was something that his character would have done. The shocked look on Effie’s face is completely real!
1. So many casualties
When you watch each of the movies including a Hunger Games, you can see that the death toll is both huge and barbaric. But it’s important to remember that the first movie covers the 74th instance of this event, while Catching Fire covers the 75th, a Quarter Quell. Special rules at every 25th anniversary mean that more tributes were killed at times – the second Quarter Quell saw 47 tributes being sacrificed.
When you add this all up together, the numbers are ridiculous. There are 24 tributes in each normal Hunger Games, with 23 dying in each. Then there are the 47 from the second Quarter Quell, plus the 18 who perish in Catching Fire. That makes a grand total of 1,743 tributes killed in the arena. The actual number of survivors is much lower than 75, thanks to age, poor health, mental scars, the third Quarter Quell which claimed many previous victors, and the events of the Mockingjay films. To our knowledge at the end of the series, there are only 6.