Before hitting the Hollywood red carpets for the world premiere of The Hunger Games, its stars paid a visit to the Westfield Broward Mall in Plantation to visit with fans and promote the movie. Lead actress Jennifer Lawrence (Katniss), along with Alexander Ludwig (Cato) and Amandla Stenberg (Rue) answered questions and waved at hundreds of screaming fans. Here is what they had to say about the movie, filming conditions and if they could survive a do-or-die scenario.
What was your reaction when you heard you would play the role of Katniss?
JL: I was in England and it was the middle of the night, and my agent called. I was really excited to hear it, but I was really tired so I asked if I could call them back in the morning and then I fell asleep. When I woke up, I wasn’t sure if I had dreamed it or not.
Were you a fan of the books before?
JL: I read the books before I heard about the movie. I read them in all four days. I loved them.
What would be your strategy if you were really playing the games?
AS: It would be the same as Rue’s. It would be to run away, go for the trees and climb as high as I could. And scavenge.
JL: I would just walk right into the center because I would know I was going to die and I would just be like “Make it quick!”
Do you think you would survive in a real life Hunger Games situation?
JL: Absolutely not. (All three agreed)
Did you learn to be an archer, or was that a double?
JL: I actually learned it and did all of it. My instructor was an Olympian so when I got hurt, she was just like, do it 100 more times.
Which skill do you wish you had?
AS: I think it would be cool if Rue knew how to do archery, too.
What other skills would you like to have besides archery?
If you could be another character in the movie, who would you want to be?
AL: Definitely Rue.
JL: Notice nobody ever says Katniss. She’s a pretty bad character.
How hard was it to film the scenes?
JL: Yeah, the heat. It was really hot in North Carolina and stunts are tricky. It’s like a dance. Like choreography. Sometimes someone throws you and it really does hurt.
Any challenges during filming?
AS: We were shooting a scene in a meadow and there were bee’s and hornet’s nests all around. And someone stepped on a bee’s nest and I happened to be right by it and they swarmed me and I got stung four times in the face and Jennifer came to the rescue and pulled me out of there and got me in the car and when we got back to base camp she got me brownies and ice cream. But then she ate it!
JL: She couldn’t eat it — she had medicine on her face and the ice cream was melting.
What about the costumes?
JL: The costumes were incredible, but definitely not comfortable. There was one made out of latex, which is never something you should put on just for the fun of it. They were beautiful, but not the most comfortable. And she has this darn jacket that she never takes off - in the North Carolina heat. And she never walks anywhere, she always runs!
How were you able to mentally prepare for your role?
AL: I don’t see him as a villain. It’s just that’s all he’s ever known. When he gets to the Hunger Games he just becomes really twisted and kind of psychotic. The reason I took the role was because at the very end of the movie he has this redeeming quality at his death scene, which I love.
What is like to work with the other cast members?
AS: It was incredible to work with everyone. But Stanley Tucci, I don’t know if you’ve seen The Devil Wears Prada is one of my favorite movies, and working with him was amazing.
AL: [During filming] we all became one big family -that was pretty amazing. I liked the action stuff. I trained with the US Navy Seals and I had to put on a lot of weight for that.
Do you relate to your characters?
JL: I don’t think it’s important to relate to a character. I admire her and I respect her and I feel like I understand her. I have to speak like her and not sound ridiculous, but no. I wish I could relate to her. I wish I was cruel and brave.
AL: I think the only hard part was tapping into the dark side of Cato, and really trying to find the twisted part of Cato that comes out during The Hunger Games.
How awesome was your scene fighting off the mutts in the movie?
AL: It was fantastic. It was green screen, so I had a bunch of stunt guys in green suits pulling me in different directions.
JL: My favorite was my scene with Stanley Tucci when he interviews me before the games. It was so insane. The blue hair and the white teeth and he’s unbelievable. It’s also the moment when Katniss realizes that it’s all a game and she wants to win it.
Did you ever think that the books had such a huge following?
AS: I was a huge fan. I read the first book at least four times before I knew there was gonna be a movie. So, to be part of it is incredible.
How does it feel to be in a movie that the world will be watching.
JL: It’s terrifying, but it’s already happening.
AL: I don’t care if the world is watching. I just care if you guys are watching. (Nods to screaming fans)
Alexander Ludwig, Jennifer Lawrence and Amandla Stenberg of "The Hunger Games". Photo: Joshua Prezant