Fan Site Exclusive: Interview with Sam Claflin and Jena Malone Monday 04 November, 2013

Along with several other fan sites, we were given the incredible opportunity to interview both Sam Claflin and Jena Malone over the weekend! Is there a better way spend a Sunday morning than chatting with Finnick Odair and Johanna Mason? We think not! We discussed a wide range of topics, from shooting emotional scenes in Catching Fire and developing character backstory to cast friendships and which segments of the clock they’d feel most prepared to face. In addition to being insanely nice, Sam and Jena were clearly passionate and excited about this series, and we definitely think that comes across in this interview. We hope you enjoy!

Crystal, Sam, fans have followed the casting with a lot of attention to detail, and Annie Cresta was not cast until you guys had wrapped Catching Fire, so without an actress in that role, did you find it difficult to draw from Finnick’s relationship with her in the Catching Fire arena? And if so, how did you overcome that?

Sam: I definitely see where you are coming from. No, but I don’t feel like without a picture in my head, as an actor, I necessarily needed that to draw from, if you know what I mean. Obviously from personal experience, I am married and therefore my wife [pictured, left] was my kind of experience that I could draw from. You know, the love of my life and all that palaver. So I didn’t necessarily need an actress or an image of a person to emotionally inform me, if that makes sense. Definitely I am very excited to get started with Stef Dawson, who is playing Annie Cresta. Finnick spends so much time in the arena, away from her, focusing on mainly protecting Katniss. I don’t feel that it really affected my performance necessarily during Catching Fire.

Elena, HG Movie Site: When you become part of the cast for a franchise as big as The Hunger Games, with such a big fan base, is there a pressure to please a lot of people or do you find that it’s easier when there are already millions of people that love it?

Jena: Well, it’s kind of a give and take. I think, luckily, both Sam and I — Sam, if I could just speak for you — we were both such fans of the series anyway, that coming in with already such love and appreciation and passion for a project, it only propels you even further forward knowing that there are 100,000 people out there that also have the same love and passion. But of course, it’s a little terrifying in the morning whether you want to think if you’re getting it right or not. But fortunately books are two-dimensional beings, and film is a three-dimensional format. So we were building things in a whole new way. So there’s no way that it could be like the book ever, because we’re not two-dimensional. We’re building blood and love and sweat and breathing life into these characters, and so I think that they’re always going to be better than the books had ever imagined them.

Savanna, Hunger Games Fireside Chat (hey, that’s us!): Over the course of filming, you’ve obviously gotten to spend a lot of time with other members of the cast. Who did you really enjoy hanging out with off set, and are there any close bonds you formed that you think will go beyond the films many years into the future?

Jena: The entire cast is so rad, it’s hard to pick one person. We’ve become such a tight-knit family. I kind of fangirled out over Philip Seymour Hoffman, just a little bit. I mean, he’s been one of my favorites, I don’t know.

Sam: Yeah, we all sort of ended up socializing off set as much as we did on set, and there was a lot of fun to be had. And that all kind of spans back to the fact that Francis was very open to ideas and it made it much more of a collaborative family experience, if that makes sense. There was a lot of misbehaving and mischief caused, but, you know, in a very fun way, and we were all able to kind of focus on the job at hand when we needed to. But yeah, I don’t think there was one person I disliked, and if I did, I’d be sure to tell you! (laughter) Actually, I’m not a big fan of Jena, Jena Malone.

Jena: …Jina Mahone or something? She’s a crazer.

Sam: But we all got along like a house on fire. You can’t help but really admire an experience like that really.

Megan, The Hob: What were the most emotional scenes for you to film?

Jena: I think for me, being covered in blood and having to uphold the energy of intense violence and anger and emotional velocity while covered with this intense blood that, within 30 seconds, dries on your skin and becomes painstakingly horrible, that was probably the hardest thing to just hold that energy for like six hours while on a beach while sandy… While blown onto your blood and everything is just, the worst, you know? But it was just the best, it helped a lot, I don’t know.

Sam: The most emotionally difficult scene for me would definitely — the jabberjay scene, hearing the love of my life screaming through the woods was pretty darn difficult to film especially when you just have some average Joe screaming instead of an actual woman. There was also obviously the scene where Lynn Cohen and I were split apart for the last time when Mags has to walk off into the fog, was pretty damn emotional, too. However, here were a fair few physically demanding scenes as well. It was a very, very physically demanding shoot. We’re obviously shooting in the jungles of Hawaii and therefore the terrain was pretty horrific. So emotionally I felt very drained by Christmas last year.

Sheila, HG Girl on Fire: In the film you both use some pretty awesome weapons. How was it working with a trident and an ax? How much training did you do until you felt comfortable wielding such a cool weapon?

Jena: What’s so funny is that we worked with such an incredible stunt team, 87Eleven. They have such an amazing arsenal of all of these different guys that are just trained in all these different forms of fighting styles and weapons, and they really let us figure out what was the best way to go about working with our specific weapons, with our specific districts, and our specific fighting styles. I don’t know, I feel like it wasn’t necessarily just the weapons, it was more about finding the character within the style and what kind of person we were becoming in all these different ways we learned how to fight and it was pretty rad. For me it was not even like a specific thing, it was just getting to work with such an incredible stunt team that really entrusted us with such rad techniques.

Sam: Yeah, I think that the standards, across the board, I don’t think anyone who had to hold a weapon had no ability to hold weapons, if that makes sense. I think we were all pretty nifty with our own individual weapons right from the get-go However, there were many hours spent going over the choreography. The opportunity for me to basically hit a few stunt men with a rubber weapon was pretty amusing, and somewhat like a dream come true. The problem for me was that my stunt double was so so good with a trident that no matter how hard I tried, I could never be quite as good, but yeah, it was good fun. It was really good fun.

Kait, Victor’s Village: Obviously the best answer to this would be “none of the above,” but if you had to go up against one of the mutts or obstacles in the Catching Fire arena, which one would you choose and why?

Jena: Lightning tree! Just stay out of the way.

Sam: Yeah, that’s a tough question. I guess… Not the fog.

Jena: Not the fog. None of them!

Sam: Maybe the blood rain?

Jena: No way, are you kidding me!? Aw, you don’t even know!

Sam: I’d probably say the lightning tree. But actually, no. I say whatever is in the hours that we never actually find out about.

Jena: That’s even more terrifying.

Sam: I suppose the unknown actually is even more terrifying.

Jena: It was so terrifying Suzanne couldn’t even write about it. You know what I mean? That’s how bad it was.

Sam: Yeah, lightning tree. I’ll go the obvious way. Lightning tree.

Arianna, Down with the Capitol: Apart from food, medicine, and weaponry, what would you wish a sponsor would send to you if you were in the arena?

Jena: I would go with what I would want in the arena, when I was on the beach, all I wanted was a way to turn off the wind so the sand would stop blowing all over me. Whatever that is, I would need some sort of like nice little shield, invisible shower curtain type of thing that would just sort of protect me from the sand.

Sam: I would say soap. I mean, if I died at least I died well. You know, I died and I smelled good. It’s such an array of — I don’t know. I’ll say soap. I’ll go with soap.

Jena: Yeah, that sounds good.

Sam: Lather myself… (laughter)

Kelsey, My Hunger Games: What was your favorite outfit you had to wear during filming?

Jena: I liked the chariot outfit. Mine was really intense, and also I had to become really acquainted with it because I had to learn how to do a four-second striptease, so obviously, I had to really, really learn it. Yeah, that was my favorite; I wore a gorgeous tree outfit.

Sam: For me, I think probably the arena outfit because it meant I was actually covered up. (lots of laughter) There was a lot of pressure on me to be working out a lot so therefore once I got… I mean, funnily enough, a wetsuit is obviously very, very tight fitting, but nonetheless, that was still the least revealing outfit that I had, so I’d say that. There was a lot of stretch in the crotch as well which meant I could lunge.

Jena: That’s true, I could see some very good lunge work.

Sam: Deep lunges

Jena: Deep.

Tiffany, Welcome To District 12: What other role in the series did you see yourself playing or could you see yourself playing, no matter description or type?

Jena: I mean, I wanted to play Mags. That was my first choice, but…

Sam: You wanted to be carried by me.

Jena: During the audition, they kind of touched my face with fake old age makeup, and they’re like, “Jena, this is not going to work.”

Sam: It’s a tough question. I mean, I’d most like to play Haymitch, I think.

Jena: Oh, really?

Sam: Yeah, because I think he just goes on one hell of a journey, and the fact that he is who he is, the things that he’s seen and been through, that he’s a mentor to Katniss and Peeta. Yeah, that’s the character that most inspired me, I guess… Effie Trinket, just so I could’ve got the costume, you know. Anything for an orange wig.

Celine, If you were a Capitol person, what crazy fashion trend would you start?

Jena: I would want to put zippers on my eyebrows. (laughter)

Sam: [inaudible comment]

Jena: It’s the first thing that came to me! I was like, What would I want? I think just a little chain, metal something on my face.

Sam: I would definitely go with a tiger face paint.

Patty, How would you both define Finnick and Johanna’s friendship?

Sam: I wouldn’t. (laughs)

Jena: I think it’s beyond friendship and it’s just like family. Like they’ve drawn blood together. They’ve killed together, got tortured together.

Sam: They’ve been through a lot. There’s only a very few amount of people still alive that have gone through the experiences they’ve witnessed.

Jena: Kinda like military buddies. They’ve been out in the field together and witnessed, you know, horrors together and that’s really bonded them forever.

Samantha, Panem Propaganda: When you came into your roles, did you either talk to anybody or consider for yourself what kind of background your characters had outside the Games? Like family or friendships they may have had in their districts, and how that may have impacted your development of their character?

Jena: Oh yeah, the books are so rich. Even though it doesn’t go into specifics of what these characters have gone through, you can pick through, and there are sentences that, basically, for an actor, are gold mines in the sense that it gives you one little doorway to enter and then all of a sudden as an actor you dig into it and you realize there’s a whole house there. I mean, Suzanne Collins, she created such interesting characters and worlds and stories that I feel like as an actor, it was all candy getting to create all of that. There was so much to work with. And Francis was such a rad director in the sense that he was constantly asking us questions, constantly providing us more information. Even just really understanding who these people were, giving us huge essays on post-traumatic stress disorder and all of these different things to research. I feel like we had so much to go in and paint with. It was kind of amazing.

Sam: Me and Lynn Cohen, who plays Mags, we spent a good few weeks during the preparation time discussing our particular relationship, coming to the sort of decision that she was more of a mother figure to Finnick. He was kind of an orphan, we decided. Being his mentor when he was in the Games, and everything that’s happened since. And then obviously, leading up to Catching Fire, her volunteering for Annie Cresta, blah blah blah blah blah. I think the majority of Finnick’s past and history is sort of mentioned in Catching Fire or in Mockingjay, and so therefore there was already a very, very dark history painted for me, and I had the ability to kind of talk that through with not only Lynn, but with Francis, like Jena said, and everyone else. Everyone was sort of into it as much as everyone else, so it was easy for me to sort of mold ideas.

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