Bringing to life Suzanne Collins’ Gale Hawthorne and Peeta Mellark are The Hunger Games stars Liam Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson. The former is best known for his leading role in The Last Song while the latter has appeared in projects like The Kids Are All Right and, most recently, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island.
In the film, Gale and Peeta are two thirds of a love triangle that forms around Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), a young girl from one of the poorer Districts of what was once North America. She takes center stage in the new nation of Panem when she volunteers to take her sister’s place at the annual “Hunger Games,” a bloody winner-take-all competition in which 24 teens fight to the death for the amusement of the evil Capitol. Also participating in the Games is Peeta while Gale, left behind in their shared District, can only watch Katniss’ fate on the television broadcast.
ComingSoon.net had the chance to speak with Hemsworth and Hutcherson in the second of several conversations with the cast and crew that we’ll be featuring between now and the film’s release on March 23rd. If you missed our interview with Lawrence, you can check it out here.
Below, the two male leads discuss the production, the fandom and the future of the franchise.
Q: As in the books, there’s a tension between Peeta and Gale. How do the two of you work together to build that?
Liam Hemsworth: Its pretty unspoken at the moment.
Hutcherson: 100% unspoken.
Q: You both also have to play up the sense of romantic pining.
Q: Josh, how involved did your training get?
Q: I assume you’re both ready for the sequel?
Q: Liam, you’re playing a character that really only gets developed in the later books. How does that change how approach his role in the first one?
Q: Do you read all the books to get a better sense of where your character is going?
Q: Theres a tricky part to the Peeta character in that we dont know how much hes telling the truth, and how much hes playing to the audience. How is it giving a performance that contains another performance?
Q: Taking someone as decent as Peeta is easy to screw up as an actor, making him come off as holier-than-thou. Did you actively try to strike a balance to make sure he was grounded and still well-motivated?
Q: Peeta – once hes in the Hunger Games seems to go through the stages of grief about being in the contest. Was that something you developed consciously?
Q: Whats it like being a romantic lead and an action star? Whats the great appeal of that blend?
Hutcherson: Doing action, the thing is, its cool to watch it. As a guy, I like seeing it. With the romance thing, its something everyone can relate to. Once you have love as a motivator in a story, I think everyone can do anything. Once someones in love they can do the craziest thing that no ones ever thought of. You have that excuse to do whatever you want.
Q: Are you guys worried about the overwhelming phenomenon aspect that is “The Hunger Games”?
Hutcherson: But you know it could be over ten years. You have that one big hit, and they want to thrust you into that world, but in the end game if youre actor and you become successful, you become well known. And thats just part of the business.
Q: Twenty or thirty years ago, the lead character would probably have been a man. In that, Gale would become the girl at home and Peeta, the girl in the field. Did you do much to explore that role reversal?
Hutcherson: And Jennifer is perfect for this role. Shes such a strong person, on screen as well. Having a character that powerful as a woman is amazing.
Q: Whats it like working with Gary Ross as a director?
Hemsworth: Hes amazing. Ive been a fan of his since “Pleasantville,” and I love that movie. Hes a great director to work with, because hes very open and he’s trying everything possible and getting it from every different angle. Hes energetic, keeps everyone on their toes, and keeps the set alive. He’s just open to your ideas.
Hutcherson: And hes a talented writer on top of that, coming in with Suzanne [Collins] to get the script where it needed to be. I think much of the heart and soul of the movie is the script and if its s–t, the movies going to be s–t as well. But hes able to add in different devices. The books is all narration and he found ways to make it work in the film without it being just exposition.
Q: Does he give you the freedom to improv?
Hemsworth: Hes an open enough person to try, but if it doesnt work, we move on.
Q: One of the real-world things connected pining love is music. I’m curious if you ever made use of songs to inform your performance.
Q: What did you each take away personally from the experience?
Hutcherson: Every experience on this film was so much fun for me. Its great to see a movie with such an intense subject and a dramatic story line and still have fun on set. Its something I learned, as Liam said, you work with amazing people, like Jennifer and Woody and Lenny. Its a great experience.
The Hunger Games hits theaters on March 23rd. Check back between now and then for more interviews with the cast and crew.
(Photo Credit: Apega / WENN.com)