By ANGELA DAWSON
Front Row Features
HOLLYWOOD—Liam Hemsworth reprises his role as Gale Hawthorne, Katniss Everdeen’s home district sweetheart in “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1,” the third installment of the worldwide box office hit franchise.
The Australian actor, who in the first two installments of the popular fantasy action drama had had a fairly small role as the boyfriend left behind in their home District 12, while Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) went off twice to battle along with fellow victor Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), with whom she has had to pretend in public to have a romantic relationship.
In this first half of a two-part finale, based on Suzanne Collins’ third novel in the trilogy, Hemsworth finally gets to see some action as part of a rebel crew that plots a rebellion against President Snow (Donald Sutherland) and his oppressive regime, and embarks on a daring rescue of Peeta, who was taken prisoner to the Capitol in the previous installment. Most of the cast from the previous two films returns, including Woody Harrelson, Jeffrey Wright, Elizabeth Banks and Philip Seymour Hoffman, in one of his final roles. Joining the cast is Julianne Moore, who plays Alma Coin, president of District 13.
The 24-year-old actor recently spoke about making the two-parter successively and wrapping up the popular franchise.[private]
Q: How much fun did you have making this movie? You were more involved in the action this time.
Hemsworth: Yeah, a lot more. There was a lot of action on this one. The most fun is when we have scenes where we are all in the same room with Woody (Harrelson), Jennifer, Josh and Jeffrey Wright. There were a couple of different scenes throughout these last two films that were just really hard to get through because everyone is like a little kid in the room. It’s kind of tough to get through a take sometimes.
Q: Did you have to go physically and emotionally to places you had never gone before?
Hemsworth: Ah yeah, physically a lot and emotionally as well. Gale has been held back from doing anything through all of these stories and now suddenly he’s in this position where he is able to fight back. He’s really ready to go to war. He’s willing to do anything to take down the Capitol.
Q: You shot both parts of “Mockingjay” back-to-back, right?
Hemsworth: Yeah. It makes the shoot a lot longer.
Q: Do you get on each other’s nerves because you’re all hanging out a lot?
Hemsworth: No, we’re pretty lucky. You’d hate to do something this long with people that you didn’t get along with. We’ve been together for years now and we’re all really good friends so it makes those long days a lot easier when you enjoy being around each other.
Q: Are you shooting with a lot of weapons? Did you have to go out and do target practice?
Hemsworth: Not so much. I did some handgun training beforehand and I’ve done some weapons training before this film. We had so many different action sequences and fight scenes we had to do throughout these last two, you spend a couple of weeks rehearsing for it and try to work out what fits best for that scene and how to do it best. It usually changes on the day anyway.
Q: Any mishaps on set?
Hemsworth: I had a few injuries on these ones. I like to do as many stunts as they allow me to do so I got injured a few times.
Q: What happened?
Hemsworth: I had a hairline fracture in between my joints on one of my ankles while I was in Berlin. It was about three weeks before we were going to finish. I was running across a field that has a load of rubble and I put my foot on a rock, and it twisted and I heard a big crack. I went down. It swelled up pretty much instantly and I thought for sure it was broken and so I got taken away in an ambulance.
There were a few pretty funny photos of me getting into the ambulance. Everyone went dead quiet because I let out a large F-word after I did it. The whole set came over and was crowding around me. Nobody knew what to say because it was that moment of like, “Oh my God we’ve got three weeks left. Will he be able to walk still after this?” Everyone thought it was broken. I thought it was broken. We had some x-rays done and technically it was a hairline fracture in between it. I was lucky I did it on a Friday.
We started shooting on Monday again. It was lucky that I had those two days to keep it elevated and get the weight off it. We kind of rescheduled things so I could do scenes that involved just walking and sitting down.
Q: Do you like this story and what do you think has made it original?
Hemsworth: Yeah, I do like these stories. I like the idea of hope throughout. I like the idea of standing up for what you believe in. I was always taught while growing up from my mom and dad that having an opinion on something and believing in something that is positive and standing up for that is the right thing to do.
Q: How do you make it original and bring in the love triangle (with Katniss and Peeta) every time? What can we expect that makes it so interesting?
Hemsworth: There are very complex relationships in these films: Lots of action, lots of fun and lots of great actors. We have a fantastic director (Francis Lawrence) who we are all able to give ourselves to. He is the most well prepared director I’ve worked with. Shooting stuff like this that has such a huge fan base around it. You know hype and expectation can add a lot of pressure to it, and I think at the end of the day, you feel a lot better when you have someone like Francis who you can look up to.
Q: What did you think when you heard of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death?
Hemsworth: It was very sad, obviously. He was a good friend of everyone, a great actor and a great person. It was really upsetting and very shocking when it happened.
Q: What happened with his scenes?
Hemsworth: He had filmed most of his stuff. You’d have to ask Francis what they plan to do about that; I’m not exactly sure.
Q: Julianne Moore joins the cast in this one. When you have someone new to the cast, do you have an initiation process?
Hemsworth: (quips) When we have new cast members we beat them up. We have the entire cast and crew stand around and everyone gets two or three hits, even Julianne. It doesn’t matter if you’re a girl; you get beaten up. No, she did great, she fought back and that’s all you can do in that situation.
Q: You filmed a lot in Berlin and Paris, did you get to see anything?
Hemsworth: We did. We were in Paris for three weeks and we shot in some really interesting locations. I’ve been to Paris a few times and I’ve seen bits and pieces and we were in Berlin for about a month, so we got to see a lot more of that. We shot in Tempelhof, which is Hitler’s old military airport which I think is the fourth biggest structure in the world so it was pretty interesting shooting there. We did some quite heavy scenes there, and we did some night shoots, and we were shooting some pretty heavy stuff in this place and you could really feel a different energy there, a quite heavy vibe.
Q: How do you prepare physically for a role like this?
Hemsworth: I do a lot of physical activity outside of work when I’m doing something like this. I train with all the stunt guys. I do various different sports like boxing, kickboxing, running, sprinting and lifting weights.
Q: Is there anything you’ve picked up from that preparation?
Hemsworth: Yeah, we did a lot of kickboxing and training beforehand with guys who have been doing kickboxing for most of their lives. You learn a lot about that stuff with guys who really know what they are doing.
Q: Now that you’ve wrapped, what do you think you’ll miss the most about this production?
Hemsworth: I think just the relationships that we’ve all built from the cast to the crew. The crew has been the same pretty much since the beginning. So many people who I’m really close friends with now, I think towards the end of (filming in) Berlin, which was where we were finished, me and Jennifer would sit there and get quite emotional about the fact that it was coming to an end, and the fact that we wouldn’t be spending as much time with all these different people. That is what we will all miss the most.
Q: Has Jennifer Lawrence changed much since the first film? She has since become this big, Academy Award-winning star.
Hemsworth: No, I don’t think so. She was always an open book. She says whatever pops into her head. She’s been like that since the beginning and she’s still like that. No, I don’t think she has changed.[/private]