The Hunger Games: Catching Fire - Woody Harrelson, Josh Hutcherson and Jennifer Lawrence
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire - Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson, left), Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson, center), Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence, right) ©2013 Lionsgate, photo by Murray Close

On November 22nd, the second in the four part franchise, The Hunger Games Catching Fire, premieres. In 2012, The Hunger Games opened to a weekend box office of over $152 million, and went on to gross almost $408 million in the US alone.

Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) have returned home after winning the 74th Annual Hunger Games. But Katniss’ good friend Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth) is alarmed by the stress the Games have had on her.

During Katniss’ and Peeta’s victory tour of the other districts they become aware of the beginnings of a rebellion by the people. Then to their dismay President Snow (Donald Sutherland) unexpectedly declares the 75th anniversary of the Games will be played by the surviving victors, a male and female being chosen from each district.

Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth spoke of the franchise and their increasingly iconic characters at the press day for the movie.

What lessons can kids learn from your characters?

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire - Jennifer Lawrence
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire – Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) ©2013 Lionsgate, photo by Murray Close

Jennifer: Unfortunately, I think that we have this society where people feel entitled to certain things. The media continues to feed you what you want.

This is an example of what happens when you keep allowing that to happen, when you keep feeling entitled to things that you’re simply not.

At the end of the first movie with (Katniss and Peeta) and the berries, they don’t need a victor.

We don’t need to play in this Game is a wonderful example for young adults, that you don’t have to follow the feet in front of you. Even just one voice standing up for something that’s wrong can keep us from going into a totalitarian government.

Josh: Absolutely. I think that our generation is surrounded by so much in your face truth from around the world.

They are also told all the time by the media what kind of people they need to be, or how they need to look or dress, and I think this movie shows that you can go against the flow of things. I think, for me, that’s the most important thing.

That’s what I did when I was a kid in Kentucky, as I went against the flow of things and went for what I wanted to do in life, and I’m here talking to you, so it’s pretty cool, I think.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire - Liam Hemsworth
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire – Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth) ©2013 Lionsgate, photo by Murray Close

Liam: I think we’re given an unique opportunity to have a voice and spread awareness to a particular issue that might be important.

Regardless of whether people want to listen to us or not, we’re given a platform to talk and if we use that platform to do a small bit of good, the little bit we can do to spread awareness to something important is a unique opportunity to have.

Liam and Josh, in developing your characters, did you take it from the scripts or the source material?

Josh: It’s nice when you have a whole book and then you have to whittle it down to a movie, because as an actor you get a lot more information about your characters.

I think this movie expands on the different relationships. You see a lot more of the dynamic with Katniss and Peeta, and how they’re affected by the Games and by the whole world they live in. And then the same goes for the relationship with Katniss and Gale.

Liam: When Katniss comes back from the Games, Gale is obviously seeing this post traumatic stress that she’s dealing with.

He’s obviously watched her fall in love with someone else and he cares deeply about her, but as angry and frustrated as Gale is watching her go back into these games, I think he understands at the end of the day Peeta is trying to protect her as well, and I think he’s one of her best chances of survival.

I think he does appreciate that in a way, as hard as it is for him to watch all this emotion unfold between them.

(to Josh) Wanna have a fight?

Josh: No, I’m good.

Liam: Me too. I love you, man. (Liam hugs Josh) We love each other.

You won your Oscar while you were doing Catching Fire. Was there a bring your Oscar to work day?

Hunger Games Catching Fire - Josh Hutcherson and Jennifer Lawrence
Hunger Games Catching Fire – Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) and Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) ©2013 Lionsgate, photo by Murray Close

Jennifer: Absolutely, I brought it to work and put in on Video Village (where they watch the playback of the scenes). I was like, ‘Things are going to be very different from now on.’ No, I didn’t. (she laughs)

Actually, it made me a target. Every time I’d mess up my lines, Woody would say, ‘You’d better give that Oscar back.’ I actually wished that everybody in this cast didn’t know about it. It would have made my life a lot easier.

Was winning the Oscar special for you?

Jennifer: Something like that is a wonderful gift that I was so grateful for and confused by slightly, but I’m okay with that. I’m still pinching myself, and I think that I still haven’t fully digested it, and maybe I shouldn’t. It’s a tremendous honor.

Is it important to you to keep changing the roles you do so that you’re not identified with Katniss?

Jennifer: Yes and no. If I was going to be identified for a character for the rest of my life, that’s a hard thing to think about, but I love this character and I’m proud of her, and I would be proud to be associated with this movie and this character for the rest of my life.

That being said, I do think it has been important, not even for audiences but for me [to do different roles]. I like going back, I started doing indies and I enjoy doing them. Sometimes when you find a really great character like Rosalyn [in American Hustle] it’s better than a vacation.

It’s exciting, as long as the catering’s good!

What was the hardest stunt for you to do in this?

Hunger Games Catching Fire - Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson
Hunger Games Catching Fire – Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) ©2013 Lionsgate, photo by Murray Close

Jennifer: The spinning cornucopia was pretty hard. We had a real spinning cornucopia that was going about 30 miles per hour, and Jena (Malone, who plays Johanna Mason) and I were both having morning sickness –

Josh: Morning sickness or motion sickness? Is there something you want to tell me? Maybe now is not the best place!

Jennifer: Oh God, my publicist is going to say, ‘And that’s what I’m going to be dealing with for the next 24 hours!’ Motion sickness. It was hard to keep your cookies down during that situation.

Jennifer told a story related to the first movie that brought tears to her eyes – check back tomorrow to listen to her touching memory.

[jwplayer player=”2″ mediaid=”38212″]

Josh and Liam were asked about playing their roles across multiple movies. Check back tomorrow for their answers, which end in Liam doing something I’ve never seen anyone do at a press junket!

[jwplayer player=”2″ mediaid=”38213″]

Judy Sloane

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