#119 Fireside Chat: Cresta and Cressida Sunday 25 August, 2013

“Cresta and Cressida”

Miss Episode 119 live last night? Click here to listen to the recording or simply use the embedded player below!

Episode 119 of Hunger Games Fireside Chat will air live this Monday, August 26, at 10pm ET/7pm PT! This week, our panel of experts will include Shylah from Down with the Capitol, Crystal from Mockingjay.net and FictionalFood.net, and Ariel of Nerdy, Wordy, and Over Thirty.

The marketing campaign for Catching Fire is in full swing now, and Mockingjay pre-production has begun. Could we consider this a fandom “Golden Age”? Let’s enjoy it while it lasts!

– We’ll kick off Episode 119 by reacting to our very first piece of Mockingjay casting news: Natalie Dormer is Cressida! Natalie is best known for playing Margaery Tyrell on the hit HBO series Game of Thrones. Do you approve of this choice? Do you think she’ll actually shave her head for the role? Let us know!

– Ever since Sam Claflin was cast as Finnick, we’ve been waiting for this announcement: Stef Dawson has been cast as Annie Cresta! Stef is an up-and-coming Australian actress, and if you’d like to get a taste of her acting, we strongly recommend you check out her showreel below. What do you think about Stef? Does she match your mental image of Annie?

FYI: There will be no show on September 2 (Labor Day).

You can chat with other listeners throughout the live show by using our hashtag #HGFiresideChat on Twitter! We recommend TweetChat to easily follow along with the conversation.

(If you missed our last episode, click here to listen!)

And click here for an index of all of our archived episodes.

Follow this week’s participants on Twitter:
Adam (Host): @AdamSpunberg
Savanna (Co-Host/Producer): @MlleNouveau
Shylah: @JediShywalker / @HungerGamesDWTC
Crystal: @pikko / @mockingjaynet / @FictionalFood
Ariel: @Madam_Pince

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#112 Fireside Chat: Who Should Play Annie and Tigris?


  • Maia says:

    I like Natalie Dormer, She was also on Showtimes The Tudors , she played Anne Boleyn !
    I am curious why they are casting this character first before casting the actress who will play President Coin ? Thanks

    • mse says:

      Just because they announced Cressida first, doesn’t mean that Natalie was the first person they actually cast. It’s all part of the marketing strategy, especially now that it also coincides with the pre-premiere marketing of Catching Fire. In my opinion, Natalie is an amazing choice to kick off all this, because while Cressida may not be a fan favorite, she still has a fairly large role in Mockingjay, but even more importantly: because of her previous involvements with shows like Tudors and her current one with Game of Thrones (and also Elementary) Dormer herself is kind of a fan favorite. I guarantee you that there are more than a few people out there who usually wouldn’t care about a THG casting announcement, but now they’re intrigued.

      We also had our first share of Coin casting rumors back in June, and it’s very likely that Julianne Moore (or someone else) has already been cast, they’re just waiting for the right moment to announce it.

  • Greg says:

    I personally don’t care about Cressida as a character, but Natalie Dormer is a really good actress so that’s pretty cool.

    I’m not surprised they casted Stef Dawson as Annie. Having an unknown play a character that barely speaks is a pretty wise decision money-wise. Casting Laura Haddock (Sam’s wife) would have been pretty awesome, though.

    • Laura Haddock doesn’t have the Annie look at all. And I, for one, am happy that they’ve avoided any stunt casting so far (imagine if they cast Sam’s wife so gossip mags would fawn over them and run stories “Finnick and Annie in love in real life”. Ugh)

      Annie may not have many lines in the book (which, however, does not have to be the case in the movie!) but she is an important and challenging character that requires an actress of some talent, who’s able to portray someone who’s mentally ill but still appealing, fragile but strong enough to go on living as a single mother in the end. Acting is not just about saying lines (unless it’s an audio drama). I assume that they hired the actress who was best at the audition.

  • leandra says:

    The first thing I thought when I saw Stef Dawson was ‘Annie is not a redhead’, and the second thing was ‘does that even matter look at her gorgeous face she’s so beautiful and perfect’. I’m really excited to see Stef as Annie, I’m glad they cast an unknown.

  • Mel Cally says:

    I’m happy that they’ve started casting announcements, but my only gripe so far is that Cressida has such little physical description that this would have been one of the prime opportunities for them to cast someone that isn’t blonde haired and blue eyed.

    I don’t want to be THAT fangirl complaining about race; but technically what we, in The States, consider the “minority” right now, should not be the same as it is, in the future. What I’m trying to say is that there should be a lot more people of color, Asians, Native Americans, Hispanics, Multi/Bi- Racial, etc people represented.

    And the only way they could possibly pulled it off is by NOT changing the detailed description Suzanne wrote of certain characters, but by using some of the characters she wrote vague enough that they could be anyone (or any color). Just so they can add some much needed diversity to an already great cast and make this futuristic world much more realistic.

    • They did that with Cinna, Enobaria, Beetee and Seeder.

    • Also, we don’t know who else they cast; they could very easily have cast non-white people as Boggs, Paylor (who doesn’t really have any physical description other than her age) or Pollux/Castor or some of the other characters. Cressida is not one of the few character you can cast non-white – you can cast almost any remaining role non-white. (I think it only wouldn’t be a good idea with Delly Cartwright, with everyone else it doesn’t matter.) Lionshate has had no problems with changing physical traits of characters outside the few whose looks fans care about (Katniss, Peeta, Gale, Finnick) – see Haymitch, Cinna, Beetee, Seeder among others. Nobody in the fandom cares if Boggs has blue eyes in the movie or not (just look at the most popular fancasts).

      • satsumarena says:

        I doubt anyone will actually read this a week out, but now that Evan Ross (Diana Ross’s son) is confirmed as Messalla, that certainly fits the idea of casting a non-white actor for a character whose race/ethnicity was left vague in the books. Though I guess some people might still complain that Messalla is just cannon fodder, and that they’ve had enough of POCs being cast in such disposable roles. (But then again, it seems some people are just looking to be offended.) This is also likely the wrong franchise for that particular complaint, because white, blue-eyed, blonde people die in the story, too. I suspect that the final body count will have close to proportional representation of many demographics.

        • Well, I’ reading it because I get e-mail notifications about new replies. I always click the little box “Notify me of new posts”. 🙂

          There really isn’t much room for casting people in non-disposable roles in MJ, since the majority of the new characters ends up dead! I would think that it wouldn’t make sense to simultaneously complain about the lack of opportunities for non-white actors and then complain about a non-white actor getting a role, instead of being denied it on the account of his character having to die… but it hasn’t stopped people before.

  • nightlooker says:

    Hmmm….if I’m being completely honest, I really don’t like Stef Dawson with red hair. I looked her up and found other images of her as a brunette, and I think she looks much better that way! Here’s to hoping that she dyes her hair, because I never imagined Annie as a red head.

    • Adda says:

      Also remember that she was cast for her acting ability, not her race or skin color.

  • Gavin says:

    When it comes to casting, I approve of Natalie and Stef. What separates the Hunger Games franchise from other YA adaptations (including the early Potter films, excluding Azkaban), is the depth of acting ability throughout the cast. The decision-makers involved in this franchise seem to put acting ability above all other factors in casting including asthetics (I’m looking at you Taylor Lautner). You can give Jennifer Lawrence black hair but you can’t give 99.9% of actresses in Hollywood her acting ability. Until I see someone completely fail on screen in their role, I will trust every decision they make.

    While we’re on Natalie being casted, I’ve got a potential grab bag topic.

    – Do you believe that the Hunger Games could have been a bigger critical hit or hit with fans (I know it wouldn’t make as much money in the box office) if the Hunger Games was adapted as a Episodic Series on a premium channel (like Game of Thrones on HBO) than a film? It would allow for more scenes to be adapted from the books and allowed for some scenes that were cut to have been included or adapted. Each book could’ve had a 10-12 episode season dedicated to it and maybe add an extra season if the writers wanted to bridge HG with CF or CF with MJ, by filling in the time gaps between the novels.

    Finally, I think they’ll save Coin for last, but a little part of me still believes on that poster for the CF castings, they had that extra box that was never revealed, that Coin may have been casted under a different name or currently uncredited. A little part of me believes they may introduce her character at a scene near the of the film, maybe with her talking with Plutarch via video transmission when Katniss stumbles in on Plutarch, Haymitch, & Finnick after awaiting from her bed before she snaps at Haymitch, and that still leaves Gale’s news about district 12 being the closing line of the film to setup MJ Part 1. But that’s just me.

    • A Song of Ice and Fire is way longer and has some 20 times more storylines, characters and scenes than The Hunger Games. It made sense for ASOIAF to be made into a TV series, because it could never be made into a film series without really ruining it. The difference between the two is huge, THG does not have enough material for a TV series – a mini-series maybe. If The Hunger Games should have been a TV series in order to include Every. Single. Scene, then Game of Thrones should have been a 20 episode per season series with 90 minutes long episodes to include everything that had to be cut and shortened for the adaptation.

      I don’t think either of these would be a bigger critical hit than they are – they would probably be judged as unnecessary long-winded and a bad adaptation, because one of the things that marks a good adaptation is condensing the storylines and trimming the unnecessary parts.

  • mse says:

    I have to admit, I was somewhat surprised about Stef Dawson, simply because we know and see just how many choices the casting department has at this point – and because it got me worried that Annie might become marginalized in the movies. But then I pinched myself. The fact that Lionsgate & Co. was looking outside of the box here, and didn’t go for ‘the most impressive filmography’ but (probably) ‘the most impressive audition’ is truly amazing. I love it that we have a completely fresh face for Annie. I just hope that they’ll utilize well whatever potential she showed at those auditions.

  • From the moment I saw Stef Dawson’s picture I started freaking out. I was in my college communications class so I had to keep myself under control. What got me was those eyes. LOOK AT HER EYES! Those are Annie’s eyes ripped right from out the book. Stef also has this innocent quality to her face, as if she couldn’t hurt a fly. I don’t know about everyone else, but that is exactly how I envisioned Annie: someone who is frail, innocent, helpless, yet undeniably lovely. Stef Dawson is going to kill this role.

  • I’m exited to see both of them in both parts of Mockingjay. I have full faith in Lionsgate to choose the very best people to fill in the rest of the roles needed and so far it looks like they’ve been doing a great job. 😀

  • Listening to the show, it seems like you guys still don’t have a lot of trust in Lionsgate to be faithful to the story. I can’t believe that you thought Annie could get cut. Annie is not Madge, she’s crucial to Finnick’s storyline. (And yes, Finnick is a secondary character, but so is everyone other than Katniss and Peeta. Yes, I’m including Gale, who may be a main character in Mockingjay, but is certainly secondary in Catching Fire, and tertiary at best in the first book.) Not to mention that Finnick/Annie serves as a parallel to Katniss/Peeta and is the reason for the bonding between Katniss and Finnick.

    I find it even harder to believe you thought they could “switch” the love story for Finnick to Johanna. No offense, but that may be the single worst idea for a re-writing of a book that I’ve heard…well, not ever, but in a long time. 😀 It would have single-handedly destroyed both these character’s backstories, characterizations and storylines. Aside from the moving revelation that Finnick, the sex symbol of Panem, is in love with a “crazy” girl, Finnick’s story is all about him prostituting himself and doing eveyrthing to protect someone who’s really vulnerable. That wouldn’t make sense with someone like Johanna, who doesn’t need people to protect her, and wouldn’t want people to protect her, and if Snow wanted to kill her, he’d want to kill her for herself – she’s certainly given him enough reasons to be pissed off at her. And Johanna’s story is all about having no one left to love.

    Annie is a very important character who can’t be removed from the story without the story really suffering, but she’s talked about more than actually seen. In the movies, they may have as much as she is in the book (and that’s very little), with the probable addition of a shot of her with her son in the end, or they may expand her role a little and give her some additional scenes, for instance in the Capitol (she may be introduced while she, Peeta and Johanna are imprisoned; it would pack a stronger emotional punch when she’s reunited with Finnick if we already meet her before that). It’s also not an easy role to play – she’s mentally ill, but still healthy enough to have a relationship, she’s vulnerable but strong enough to live on as a single mother in the end. The actress needs to have the right look – which Stef Dawson does have – but also real acting chops, which I’m sure she has, or they wouldn’t cast her.

    Re: Delly. She may be cut for time – but she may also be in the movies (probably just in the second one). I don’t see why everyone seems to think it’s a done deal that they’ll cut her. It all seems to come down to “if they could cut Madge, they will cut her, too”. I don’t think that cutting Madge was even a bit outrageous or unexpected. Maybe it’s because I don’t share everyone’s obsession with Madge (talk about weird fandom obsessions 😉 ). But it’s because I don’t see how Madge could have worked in a film franchise, short of expanding her role and making her a major character with storylines of her own, showing her family and explaining her motives in the first movie, etc. Which could all work well in a TV show. But keeping Madge as she is in the books just wouldn’t work. You’ll have a random character appear at the start of the first movie to give Katniss the mockingjay pin, then disappear for the rest of the movie. People would be wondering “What was that about” and complaining that it’s a plot hole, something that went nowhere. Then she’d pop up again in the next movie, a year later, when everyone other than book fans has forgotten who she is, to bring Gale morphling, and then there would be a lot of exposition about her family and her aunt, while she herself would do nothing. (And that in Catching Fire, which is already packed with old and new characters and with storylines.) And then we’d learn that she died.

    (Also, Adam – I don’t think you meant it seriously, but anyway – The Hunger Games could have never been split. How would one do that? Have the first movie about the preparation for the Games, with no resolution, and then the other about the Games themselves, with no setup?)

    On the other hand, Delly is very easy to introduce: she’s Peeta’s old friend who survived the bombing, and she’s super-nice. Then she does her thing in District 13 while Peeta is recovering, and that’s it. Not a crucial character to the story or anything, but a pretty useful one if you’re going to focus on Peeta’s hijacking and recovery at all, and I think they will. She’s Peeta’s connection to his old life, she’s a nice reminder that, yes, Peeta does exist in the story outside of Katniss and has friends of his own, 😉 she could remind the audience of Katniss’ and Peeta’s backstories and old life in District 12 without it looking clumsy and expositiony, and she provides an outside look at Katniss and Peeta. I don’t see how her role could be taken on by either Prim or Annie, at least without a lot of unnecessary re-rewriting that would just make things even more complicated. Annie is mentally ill herself, it doesn’t make sense that she would be tasked with helping Peeta. Prim is Katniss’ sister, so why would they let near Peeta if Katniss and everything related to Katniss is his trigger? And why would she hope to be able to get through to Peeta, when she’s not particularly close to him, and she’s Katniss’ sister, therefore likely to talk nicely about Katniss? Prim defending Katniss wouldn’t have such a strong punch for Peeta or for the audience, as opposed to Peeta’s best friend doing it.

    It makes even less sense to introduce “Madge” just in order to fulfill Delly’s role. She’s Katniss’ friend, not Peeta’s best friend, so it wouldn’t work, and she’s also canonically dead by that point. And Madge has no reason for existing in the story if someone else gave Katniss the pin. She wouldn’t be Madge, she would just be Delly with a different name, which would be completely pointless.

    Here’s a new, off-the-wall idea: how about using Delly to fulfill Delly’s role, and naming her Delly! 😀 She isn’t crucial and she may be cut, but leaving her in the story is pretty simple, doesn’t take a lot of screentime (except for a short introductory scene with Katniss, all her scenes are the scenes that are crucial for Peeta) and is much simpler than looking for another character to fulfill her role.

    • Savanna says:

      Shylah was just throwing out theories of things they could have possibly done if Annie had been cut. I don’t think anyone really believes they would have created a Finnick/Johanna romance. And I personally was mostly just joking around about thinking they’d never cast Annie. I knew they would, but there was still a trace of paranoid fear in the back of my head. I don’t think it would have been outside the realm of possibilities. They’ve made more surprising decisions before.

  • Although I love the Finnick/Annie relationship (for itself, but also for the parallel it serves to Katniss/Peeta), I don’t agree that it’s THE Love Story of The Hunger Games. Yes, there are real problems and complications between Katniss and Peeta. Things are not perfect between them. But that’s exactly what makes them interesting and one of the most compelling literary romances I can think of. It’s a story we follow throughout the trilogy; their relationship is not static, it changes, it changes in really unexpected ways; we see Katniss gradually falling in love with Peeta – and arguably, Peeta falling in love with Katniss (because I don’t think a crush on someone you hardly know is real love). We see their relationship tested multiple times, almost destroyed and then rebuilt. There is a lot of “real” love between them much, much before the ending. The Capitol citizens and maybe some other gullible people in Panem see the Fairytale Love, which K/P is definitely not, but beneath that, there is actually a lot of real love.

    Listening to this podcast has made me realize that it’s actually the Finnick/Annie story that fits the “Fairytale Love” narrative in the book: they are considered perfect for each other by everyone; “nobody can doubt their love”; there’s no indication that they ever argue or have any internal problems in their relationship; tthe only things keeping them apart are cruel fate and evil people; we see a lot of the two of them apart, but very little of them together, and when we do, it’s a big romantic reunion and a big wonderful wedding. Which doesn’t mean that the relationship between Finnick and Annie is or was always so perfect (the most intriguing thing in their relationship for me is that Finnick isn’t sure when he fell in love with her, and that it took him a long time to fall for her) – but the purpose they serve within the story is to be a symbol of pure and perfect love. Maybe it’s because we don’t get to see more of them and we see them only through Katniss’ eyes, and she idealizes them as a symbol of pure and perfect love, which she doesn’t thihk she can have herself. But, to paraphrase what you said in the podcast: for the people of Panem, Katniss/Peeta are the Fairytale Love, but for the readers, Finnick/Annie is the Fairytale Love.

    The real story of Katniss/Peeta is THE Love Story exactly because it’s complicated and imperfect and has issues, because that’s how love is in real life.

  • Also, I forgot – here is some info about Stef Dawson (thanks to Ellie on Mockingjay.net!). http://www.showcast.com.au/showcast/View/ViewActorProfile?actorId=28909&d=5zC793vqKttigxMZ1gvodQ# According to this, her hair color is brown. So, people can stop worrying. 😉

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