Look Back: How the ‘Hunger Games’ Cast Landed Their Roles (EXCLUSIVE)
“I probably met with [Jennifer] before I met with anyone else actually,” director Gary Ross told us. “The process went on a really long time. I had seen Winter’s Bone, and I had a hunch there is a great chance I’m going to be into this girl and she’s probably the right pick.”
So did Lawrence get the role on the spot?
After I met with her I was pretty convinced. There is this strength, there is an authority, there is this kind of no BS, direct attitude that’s screaming Katniss all over the place. Then, when she read for me it was just ridiculous. I had never seen an audition like this, forget about the movie, it was like ‘Oh my God, I’m seeing a major American actor.’ When someone comes in and can knock me over like that—I’ve seen a lot of actors in my life—I’ve never seen this. I’ve never seen someone more talented than this in my life.
Fans were shocked when Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth got the parts of Peeta and Gale respectively…especially because many of them thought they should play the opposite role. Were Josh and Liam aware of that initial reaction?
“We actually were just talking about that. We realized we changed hair colors—I had to become blonde, he had to become brunette—and then he had to lose 15 pounds, I had to gain 15 pounds. It may have just been easier if we swapped characters,” joked Josh. Still, in reality they could never imagine switching parts.
“We both related to our character much more,” Liam chimed in. “It just so happened that our physical forms were better for the other.”
“[Josh] absolutely 100% is Peeta,” Jen told Celebuzz. “He’s nice, he’s charming, he’s not afraid of anybody.”
Liam walked in and every woman in the room was ‘Wow.’ That unfortunately was against him in the beginning, we were like, ‘Okay he’s just a hunk and hot.’ Then he started to read and he was absolutely incredible. He was real, he was authentic, he listened. He was an incredible actor. They were both the best. There were a lot of people that were really great, but as far as those roles go they were the best.
As for finding the villain tribute Cato, star Alexander Ludwig told reporters he actually was up for Peeta:
It was between Josh, me and another kid. Originally I was just in the work out mode of getting really thin, and then Gary came up with the idea and asked if I would try reading for Cato. I thought sure, I’ve never played a villain. He’s not your everyday villain, there is really something twisted and psychotic about him that I love. At the very end of the book, the real reason I took the role was because of that little bit of humanity you see.
Isabelle Fuhrman, who plays Cato’s counterpart Clove, said she originally wanted the role of Katniss before Gary asked her to audition for Clove.
I think everyone immediately draws to Katniss and how strong and beautiful her story is. When I wrote my letter to Gary Ross I wrote about how I wanted to play her. I originally auditioned for her, but I’m 14 and way too young. I thought I wasn’t going to be in the movie and I was really sad at first. Then two weeks later I got the call to audition for Clove, so I reread the book and then I guess they liked what I did with her.