The Hunger Games - Liam Hemsworth
Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth) ©2012 Lionsgate

In the highly anticipated The Hunger Games, based on the novel by Suzanne Collins, Liam Hemsworth portrays Gale Hawthorne, who lives in District 12, in the nation of Panem, which once used to be North America. He is the best friend of Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), who volunteers for the nation’s Hunger Games, replacing her younger sister. The Games are a nationally televised event put on by the Capitol, in which 24 young adults must fight with one another until only one survivor remains.

Were you ever worried about taking on a character in such a popular series of books?

Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth) ©2012 Lionsgate

Every audition I go in for is daunting, but this probably more so than anything else because there are such passionate fans behind the books and you don’t want to disappoint them.

Everybody is going to have a different opinion and take on what the character should look like and act like. We’re fortunate enough to have (director) Gary Ross, who had such a clear vision of the film, and someone who we really felt we could trust, who could guide us in the right direction.

Can you tell us a little about Gale?

Gale is a decent but strong-minded guy who hates nothing more than the Capitol. He hates everything they stand for. He hates what they do to people. And he thinks the Hunger Games are very, very wrong.

With Katniss, he’s always felt they were each other’s only escape from this horrible world they live in. But once Katniss is picked for the Hunger Games, he is forced to watch this whole thing unfold with Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), wondering who she is really meant to end up with.

You are not in the film to serve Jennifer’s character, but it is Katniss’ story.

Character poster; Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth) ©2012 Lionsgate

Absolutely, it’s about a young, strong, extremely courageous young woman and I think a lot of people envy her and look up to her and this character, and Jennifer is very much that person. She’s an extremely intelligent, strong person.

When you watched the movie, were you able to see it as an audience member or were you judgmental?

I always find it incredibly tough to watch a film for the first time, and in this I went and saw it on my own last week. I was extremely nervous just because  there is so much expectation [surrounding it].

I thought it was one of the most powerful films I’ve ever seen, legitimately. I’m happy to be promoting it now and I am very, very proud of it.

Are you looking forward to shooting the sequels?

I think we’re all pretty excited to shoot the other ones. If we get to do the other books it would be awesome. They’re powerful. There’s a lot of punishment in the second book. It’s pretty brutal.

How would you fare if you were in the Hunger Games?

I grew up fighting crocodiles and wrestling kangaroos and things like that in Australia, so I think the Hunger Games would be pretty simple for someone like me. Just kidding!

Judy Sloane

Judy is Film Review Online's regular Los Angeles based reporter. More by Judy Sloane