Not a week can go by without a slew of Hunger Games news pouring in and I’m loving it. First off, as production is supposedly set to kick off in Shelby, North Carolina in the coming days, the set photos and images are pouring in. There’s quite a bit of material floating around out there, most of which focuses on one particular building now labeled “District 12.” Considering the structure is located right near some train tracks, I’d say it’s a no-brainer that this is the District 12 train station, the hub at which Katniss and Peeta board the train to the Capitol to compete in the Games. You can check out a photo of the location below or a video over at YouTube. There’s also some speculation that this building could be The Hob, District 12’s black market that “operates in an abandoned warehouse that once held coal.” This is a movie set we’re talking about here; while I don’t believe The Hob is located near the train station in the book, perhaps the crew is consolidating simply for production value purposes.
If you’re looking to get a general sense of what the scene is like on The Hunger Games set, take a look at this report from local news station, WCNC (via Down With The Capitol). While it does include some rather uninformed comparisons to The Twilight Saga, the piece does boast a ton of footage of the current work happening on set.
As Lionsgate is just about to kick off production, clearly that means the studio must scramble to fill the last few vacant roles. While one of the bigger parts, that of Panem’s President Snow, has still yet to be assigned, that of Portia and Octavia have been claimed. Portia is Peeta’s stylist, the person in charge of beautifying him for his time in front of the camera as a tribute in The Hunger Games. That role was snatched up by Latarsha Rose making The Hunger Games her first feature film. Brooke Bundy better not mind having her skin dyed pea green because she’s set to fill the role of Octavia, a member of Katniss’ prep team and, well, apparently skin-dying is all the rage in the Capitol.
Lastly, most importantly and most recently comes word of one of the production’s bigger roles being filled. Apparently I was way off the mark suggesting Jay Baruchel for the role of Katniss’ stylist, Cinna, because the part officially belongs to Lenny Kravitz. Unlike most of the folks living in the Capitol with their elaborate outfits, wild hairdos and Halloween-like makeup choices, Katniss is shocked at how normal Cinna looks. He’s got natural close-cropped brown hair and ditches the traditional Capitol attire for a “simple black shirt and pants.” Cinna’s sole appearance flair is his metallic gold eyeliner. Unlike most Hunger Games stylists, Cinna is a first timer and, to Katniss’ surprise, Cinna admits he chose to work with the notoriously unsuccessful District 12 tributes.
This is a big role for Kravitz and for the film. While Kravitz’s big-screen debut was in the Academy Award winner Precious, his screen time was limited. Clearly, The Hunger Games is Katniss’ movie, but of the supporting roles, this is one of the largest and most impactful. Katniss and Cinna share one of the book’s most intriguing connections. Knowing little to nothing about one another, they click immediately during their very first session together and, from then on, Katniss is constantly recalling her stylist’s noble words even while fighting in the arena.
While I didn’t suspect Cinna to look quite like Kravitz, what it comes down to, for this character more than most others, is his chemistry with Lawrence. While the two do share quite a few stirring and rather heartwarming conversations, there’s also an unspoken level to their relationship that’ll be vital to portray should their big screen versions have the same effect as the characters in the book. Can Kravitz pull it off? Based on Precious, I’d say so. No, Nurse John isn’t a particularly prominent character, but there’s something quite similar about him to Cinna in terms of his soft-spoken nature and soothing presence. On top of that, Kravitz’s little screen time is pretty well acted.
How do you feel about Kravitz’s casting? Can he turn Katniss into the Girl on Fire?