The first part in the third installment of The Hunger Games trilogy is set to hit theaters on November 21st, and if the first two films were any indication, it is sure to make millions. Jennifer Lawrence returns as Katniss Everdeen, the Mockingjay, and face of the rebellion. She has to find a way to unite the districts against the capitol, and end the annual Hunger Games, but also save Peeta from President Snow in the process.
The cast of The Hunger Games has become close over the course of filming four movies, and their adaptations, including actor performances, and loyalty to the novels has been praised critically and by millions of fans. The franchise has cemented Lawrence’s status as a viable leading lady, and launched Liam Hemsworth, and Josh Hutcherson into more fame than they could have imagined. In honour of the most anticipated film of 2014, here are 15 things you didn’t know about The Hunger Games.
Greek mythology inspiration
Suzanne Collins, the writer of The Hunger Games trilogy was a Greek mythology fanatic when she was younger. She credits the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur as her original inspiration for the series. The myth tells the story of Theseus, a young man who volunteers to enter the labyrinth where the Minotaur, a half-man, half-bull monster, lives. Every nine years, seven girls and seven boys have been sent into the labyrinth to be slaughtered by the monster to atone for the death of King Minos of Crete’s son. Theseus succeeds in slaying the monster, and ending the horror King Minos has inflicted on the people of Athens.
Francis Lawrence’s music video origins
Francis Lawrence, the director of Catching Fire, and both Mockingjay films, started out as a music video director and producer. He worked with acts like Jennifer Lopez, Lady Gaga, and Green Day, as well as numerous high profile commercials for companies like Coca Cola, and CoverGirl. His first feature film was Constantine in 2005.
Not originally a trilogy
Collins did not set out to write a trilogy when she wrote The Hunger Games. But when she got to the end of the first book, she decided there had to be a sequel, because there was a lot of story left to tell regarding Katniss’ punishment for almost eating the nightlock berries (which were actually frozen blueberries) to save herself and Peeta.
During a night shoot, Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson were messing around between takes, and Lawrence told Hutcherson (who is only 5’7, to Lawrence’s 5’9) she could kick over his head. But when she tried to do it, she ended up kicking him in the side of the head, and giving him a concussion.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer connection
The scripts for both Mockingjay Part 1 and Part 2 were written by Danny Strong, who also happened to play the part of Jonathan Levinson on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Strong also wrote the screenplay for Lee Daniels’ The Butler, and has won multiple awards for writing the screenplay for HBO political drama, Recount.
The first Hunger Games film was banned in Vietnam due to violence involving children that was seen as excessive. Collins has stated that the violence and death of young people were the hardest parts of the series to write.
Controversy over CGI
Philip Seymour Hoffman, who played Plutarch Heavensbee, passed away with only a few days of filming left on the final two films, and there was speculation that the studio would finish off his scenes using CGI. Fans were not happy about that possibility, and director, Francis Lawrence, cleared the air by confirming that they would only be using real footage, and giving any of his significant remaining lines to another character like Effie, or Haymitch.
Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket
The getups the people of the Capitol wear are meant to be over-the-top. Elizabeth Banks, who plays the part of Effie Trinket, is always in full costume. She said the hardest part about wearing Effie’s wardrobe were the long, fake nails. She couldn’t use the bathroom without having someone there to unzip her costume, and hand her toilet paper.
Johanna Mason casting
The role of Johanna Mason in Catching Fire ultimately went to Jena Malone, but Kristen Bell (of Veronica Mars fame) openly campaigned for the role. She was obsessed with the books, and talked about how much she would love to be a part of the films during an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel.
The role of Katniss
Other big names to audition for the role of Katniss Everdeen include Hailee Steinfeld, Chloe Grace Moretz, Emma Roberts, and Saiorse Ronan. The director of the first film, Gary Ross, said of Jennifer Lawrence’s audition, “she came in and read for me and just knocked me out; I’d never seen an audition like that before in my life. It was one of those things where you just glimpse your whole movie in front of you.” Lawrence took three days to accept the role, because she was initially intimidated by the size of the production.
Seneca Crane’s beard
Wes Bentley, who played Seneca Crane in the first film, revealed that his intricate facial hair was all natural, and a special designer would spend 3 hours perfecting it every morning. His beard even has a Facebook fan page with over 28,000 fans.
During filming of the first film, there was a swear jar on set. Whenever any older cast member swore in front of a younger cast member, they had to contribute to the jar. Gary Ross estimated that about half the money in the jar was from Jennifer Lawrence’s pocket.
The spinning cornucopia in the water in Catching Fire spun at a speed of 30 MPH. Jennifer Lawrence and Jena Malone both had to wear motion sickness bracelets so they wouldn’t throw up during the scenes where the cornucopia spun around.
Origin of Panem
The fictional nation of Panem where The Hunger Games takes place is a derived from “Panem et Circenses” or “Bread and Circuses”. This is a reference to the Roman Empire when government kept the population satisfied and placated by providing violent entertainment.
Haymitch is a vegan?
Woody Harrelson is a strict vegan, so in all his scenes as Haymitch Abernathy where he is shown eating, he only consumes vegetables or desserts. During an interview, Lawrence talks about talking Harrelson through a Mcdonalds drive-through, pretty much against his will.