“I never felt we had to pull our punches”

SFX - - The hunger games -

bal­ance Kat­niss’s feel­ings about ev­ery­thing that’s hap­pened,” Ja­cob­son says. “There’s the fact that Peeta is left be­hind and then the peo­ple who cre­ated this whole strat­egy she wasn’t a part of now have this ex­pec­ta­tion for her to be the face of this revo­lu­tion. What’s ex­pected of you and what you are ca­pa­ble of may not be the same thing, yet you have to find a way to step up.” Lawrence con­curs and adds en­thu­si­as­ti­cally that Jen­nifer “knocked it out of the park” find­ing the right nu­ance of vul­ner­a­bil­ity and ris­ing strength as Kat­niss comes into her own power again in Part One.

On the purely visual end of the cre­ative spec­trum, the Mock­ing­jay films have given Lawrence the op­por­tu­nity to put his own stamp on the world- build­ing of Panem es­pe­cially through Dis­trict 13, a com­pletely new lo­ca­tion for the film se­ries. “It was fun to fig­ure out how 13 works and how that would af­fect how the movie looks,” the di­rec­tor ex­plains. “On Catch­ing Fire I used a lot of ref­er­ence es­pe­cially for the games. I looked at a lot of war movies that took place in jun­gles like Viet­nam sto­ries from Apoc­a­lypse Now, Pla­toon and even WWII films like The Thin Red Line. For this one, I don’t think there was any­thing spe­cific that I used as a ref­er­ence. Most of the re­search was done to fig­ure out how cer­tain things work. Be­cause a large bulk of it takes place in Dis­trict 13, it was fig­ur­ing out what that sys­tem would be like, how that civ­i­liza­tion would work and how they would have it laid out. It was fun to work with the pro­duc­tion de­signer [ Philip Messina] on cre­at­ing a schematic for all of 13 so we had the sense of the ge­og­ra­phy. We looked at air­craft car­ri­ers, which are th­ese self- con­tained ci­ties, and how they are laid out so that’s where a lot of our ref­er­ence came from.”

Lawrence says he’s par­tic­u­larly ex­cited for fans of the books to see how they’ve cho­sen to bring the claus­tro­pho­bic un­der­ground en­vi­rons of Dis­trict 13 to life. “Not all of it is all that grey,” Lawrence laughs. “Some of it is. We are talk­ing about a civ­i­liza­tion that lives in what was a graphite mine in an old nu­clear fa­cil­ity so it’s not the most colour­ful of places. But you are also in a place where peo­ple want to make their lives de­cent. So we were able to play with light and colour to cre­ate Dis­trict 13’ s ver­sion of day­time/ night­time, so it’s not just ugly, green flu­o­res­cent light­ing that just ex­ists 24 hours a day down there.”

fire is catch­ing

With another year of post pro­duc­tion work still ahead for Lawrence on Mock­ing­jay: Part Two as soon as Part One is locked, Ja­cob­son muses on how they plan to han­dle the dark events that tran­spire for Kat­niss and those clos­est to her when war erupts in the fi­nal in­stall­ment. Read­ers know the graphic set pieces to come that will be painful to watch played out, but cer­tainly can’t be lost from the nar­ra­tive. Asked if they’ve cho­sen to soften any of the ma­te­rial, Ja­cob­son only says, “For me, I’ve al­ways found my con­cerns and the con­cerns of the fans are al­ways aligned be­cause I am a huge fan. So [ story] de­ci­sions have come pretty or­gan­i­cally. What al­ways grounds th­ese movies is the way in which Kat­niss ex­pe­ri­ences th­ese events. When you so deeply feel a character be­cause you are see­ing things through her eyes, the in­ten­sity is al­ways there so I never felt we’ve had to pull our punches ever.”

Why are the films such a phe­nom­e­non? Ja­cob­son says they are striv­ing to cap­ture the spirit of the books in a way that makes the movies res­onate with a broad spec­trum of au­di­ences. And they will fin­ish the cin­e­matic saga the same way. “Jen­nifer’s many- sided qual­i­ties as an ac­tor and how much di­men­sion she has in­vites any­body in,” Ja­cob­son ex­plains. “You can be 15 or 50 and you feel for her all the same. Or you can be with your first love or in a 25- year re­la­tion­ship and still con­nect with how hard it can be to be pulled in dif­fer­ent di­rec­tions the way that [ Kat­niss] is. We’re mak­ing th­ese movies so they are as rich and sat­is­fy­ing for an adult au­di­ence as they are for the orig­i­nal young adults who made them so popular.” The Hunger Games: Mock­ing­jay, Part One is re­leased on Fri­day 21 Novem­ber.

Kat­niss was the only one that couldn’t re­mem­ber the Cub Scout prom­ise.

“So, tell us... What are your big­gest weak­nesses?”

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