Jennifer Lawrence (‘Katniss’), Josh Hutcherson (‘Peeta’), Liam Hemsworth (‘Gale’), Willow Shields (‘Primrose’), and director Francis Lawrence made the trek to San Diego for the 2015 Comic Con in order to participate in a panel for the final The Hunger Games film, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2. Fans waited in line for hours in order to get one of the coveted seats in Hall H at the San Diego Convention Center, and Lawrence, Hutcherson, and Hemsworth made their wait worthwhile by taking part in what turned out to be an extraordinary farewell to the franchise. Conan O’Brien moderated the panel, drummers marched in to stir up the crowd, and new footage was shown to those fortunate enough to see the panel in person.
After discussing The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 with fans, the actors and director Lawrence took part in a press conference to go into further detail as to what we can all expect from this last The Hunger Games movie.
Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson Interview:
Is the final movie about retribution and what we have to do sometimes to solve a problem?
Jennifer Lawrence: “Well, I think there were a lot of books that went by without a war. We held off for as long as we could. This is obviously a fictional story about a fictional government. I think that at the bare minimum, what we hope an audience walks away with, especially a young audience would walk away from these movies is to think and not follow the feet in front of you. Yes, the bare minimum of what we’re trying to do is inspire people to think.”
Josh Hutcherson: “Also I think a lot about the consequence of war. It’s about all the efforts that were made and all the things that went wrong to get to the point that you had to go to war. So stopping before it gets to that point is I think a message as well. Seeing how everything went wrong and how extreme it had to become.”
What are you going to miss about each other?
Jennifer Lawrence: “Well, we’re best friends. We still see each other all the time, so I don’t miss seeing them because we all still hang out. But I do miss acting with them because this really horrible thing happens where we can’t make eye contact because I just can’t without laughing. And I don’t have that challenge in any other movie with any other actors that I work with. Normally I can make eye contact with actors and finish scenes and that is a challenge that I will miss.”
Josh Hutcherson: “Jen definitely creates a really great vibe on the sets so I think that’s going to be missed on future projects. I think because she acts so crazy and genuine, she makes everyone around her feel free to do so and that’s something that is rare to find, especially from an actress on the set every day. [Jennifer touches his face] Your hands still smell weird.”
Jennifer Lawrence: “They don’t smell — oh, it was those ranch chips.”
In what ways has this franchise made you more courageous and outspoken in real life?
Jennifer Lawrence: “Well, I think for some of us we had to because people were looking up to us and asking us questions. All of a sudden, a lot of the world was listening. So in a lot of ways, we had to step up to that position.”
Liam Hemsworth: “I think doing something like this, you really get thrown into it and you get forced to grow up in certain ways. I think we all care about setting a good example. It’s just something you get thrown into so quickly.”
How would you compare Hollywood to The Hunger Games? Are there any comparable characters in real life?
Liam Hemsworth: “There’s definitely crazy people, in real life and in The Hunger Games.”
Jennifer Lawrence: “There certainly are. There’s people in Hollywood that have crazy hair just like in The Capital.”
Liam Hemsworth: “That’s right, there’s this guy we know who looks just like the guy who dresses you.”
Jennifer Lawrence: “I can’t tell when he’s in costume or when he’s not. I don’t know. I mean, I guess there’s certain pressures, but we don’t really feel the pressures. Josh, Liam and I live on our own island in L.A. I don’t really feel the pressures of Hollywood. I’m just kind of always at Liam’s house in Malibu drinking wine. I got him hooked on reality TV.”
Liam Hemsworth: “You did not.”
Jennifer Lawrence: “You love Vanderpump Rules. You do.”
Liam Hemsworth: “It wasn’t Vanderpump Rules.”
Jennifer Lawrence: “It was Vanderpump Rules. He texted me like weeks later, ‘Kristen and what’s his name used to date?’ I was like, ‘You’re still watching that?'”
Liam, what was it like to say goodbye to this series?
Liam Hemsworth: “I think for all of us it was extremely emotional for to have this party come to an end. I think we’re all really lucky to have made such good friends and shared a special experience together. It’s a crazy world to be thrown into and amazing project to be a part of and to really grow up together doing it. Five or six years ago, a long time ago. I think back to the person I was then and the person I am now. All of us have grown up so much and changed so much so it’ll always be a special time in my life.”
What do you see of our world in this movie?
Josh Hutcherson: “I think a lot. I think you have the media in this movie, and how powerful a tool that could be. You have the dangers of extreme control and power and suppression of culture in the government. Glorified violence I think is another thing, especially in the first couple Hunger Games. And the dangers of separation of 99ers and the 1% and that disparity is growing. It’s a cautionary tale about the way things could go.”
You ran into Bill Murray backstage. Have you met before? What did you say?
Jennifer Lawrence: “I have been, and the rest of the world, have been a huge fan of Bill Murray for a really long time and always wanted to meet him. I’ve kind of spoken to him through Woody Harrelson. I’d send e-mails to Woody, mostly when I was drunk, of things that I’ve always wanted to say to Bill Murray. So he received them. So just the fact that Bill Murray knows that I exist was part one. Part two, he wanted to speak to me. And then he mentioned something about us working together. Yeah, I’m excited about that. That was cool.”
At the end of the presentation, did you mouth to Liam “I am so hungry?” And are you on a group text together?
Jennifer Lawrence: “Yeah, we are. On the last day I started a whole entire Hunger Games group text with Instagram. But Josh, Liam and I are, yes. I did say that I was hungry. And I did eat a panini and some cheese and crackers and a wrap and a bag of chips. Then I tried to grab french fries and this stern lady literally swatted my hand away and went, ‘No!’ I was like, ‘Wow.’ I haven’t been talked to like that since the first movie came out. I kind of like it.”
Do you think Katniss believes in the revolution or is just playing her role?
Jennifer Lawrence: “I think that for a long time, I wouldn’t say that it was manipulated. I would call it more of a sense of survival. I don’t think that there’s really believable hope of a revolution at the beginning of Katniss’ story. I think she was trying to save her sister. Then she was trying to save herself and then Peeta. Then waking up in District 13 changed things. Losing Peeta changed things. I believe that she grows into her position and takes control of her destiny and the revolution. So I think that for a while blah blah blah blah blah.”
She was willing to give up being Mockingjay to save Peeta.
Jennifer Lawrence: “Yes, I know. I do know because as I said, it was growing into that thing. She was a young girl and was just trying to survive and was scared. I don’t think that she really wanted more. The whole movie is about the consequence of war and how important it is to try to avoid something like that. That’s something that I really love about the second movie was that’s when she takes power and decides that she does want to be the Mockingjay, that she does believe in this cause. But it took many years to get there.”
This is your last Comic-Con. How do you feel about that?
Josh Hutcherson: “For me it’s been amazing. Coming to Comic-Con is the central hub for fandom. So to step into this world and get to be in a big Hall H panel and everything is so cool. To be in these movies that people are so passionate about to them and get to have the whole cast here and have some kind of interaction with them is really rewarding for us, I think. For me personally, I don’t know about you guys. It’s really great. It’s definitely sad to know that we’re not coming back here for this.”
How do you feel your characters have evolved?
Josh Hutcherson: “For me, I was really attracted to Peeta’s arc throughout the story. He starts as more quiet and not so secure in himself. He kind of confesses his love to Katniss and sort of empowers himself in a way. And then in Mockingjay 1 and 2 he gets taken by the Capital, he’s tortured. To kind of have him come out of that and have the recovery process, it’s really up and down for him.”
Do you feel since The Hunger Games there are more opportunities for women in Hollywood?
Jennifer Lawrence: “I would hope so. Well, that’s risky, Jennifer. I’m starting this new thing. I’m trying to develop a filter. I’m working on it. And right now I’m going, ‘This could blow people’s hair back in a good way or it could be my last time at Comic-Con.’ Yeah, I would hope so. I would hope that there are more opportunities for women. Sometimes it’s hard once you get to — I was having a conversation with somebody about the struggles of weight in the industry, because I know that that’s something I talk nonstop about. They said, ‘But all of the main movie stars aren’t really underweight.’ And I said, ‘Well, yeah, because once you get to a certain place, people will hire you and they want you to be in their movie so they don’t care.’ It’s more about the struggle for the actors and actresses who have not made it to a certain place where they’re hirable no matter what comes along, pressure. I feel like I’m not really at a place where I could complain or speak of not getting enough roles. I’m very lucky I have a lot of opportunities but I would be interested to hear someone who is not in two franchises answer that question because I’m not really in a place to fully understand it. Am I ever going to come back to Comic-Con?”
Josh Hutcherson: “Oh yeah. Totally.”