‘The Hunger Games’ Countdown: Prepping for the Fan Frenzy

‘The Hunger Games’ Countdown: Prepping for the Fan Frenzy

Jan 25, 2012

Twilight FansNow that we’re just under two months away from The Hunger Games’ March 23rd release, the cast and crew are out and about, interacting with both the press and the fans including our very own Woody Harrelson interview, a cast Twitter Q&A and much more. No, this element of the promotional phase won’t make or break the film – unless perhaps there’s some sort of Charlie Sheen-sized circumstance – but it can make or break a fan’s perception of that actor or filmmaker.

I’ve been reporting for movie news websites for quite some time now and I’ve had my fair share of celebrity encounters. Sure, this type of environment is wholly different from, let’s say, a fan walking up to his or her favorite actress on the street, but star courtesy still goes a long way. No, I’m not here to badmouth anyone, but let me tell you, it never feels good when an actor pushes your microphone away on a red carpet. On the bright side, that’s really only one of a very small handful of interview misses I’ve had over the years.

In fact, most of my celebrity encounters have been quite the opposite – actors gushing about the subject matter of their new film, veteran directors finally completing a passion project, first time filmmakers excited to get a taste of the press circuit. Some experiences I’ll never forget? Talking Scream 4 with Wes Craven, sharing my ringtone with Steven Spielberg and getting a grilled cheese sandwich from Dustin Hoffman. Then there’s San Diego Comic Con, which is an entirely different breed of fan outreach itself. Not only is the event brimming with some of the most dedicated fans I’ve ever come across, but equally dedicated stars, going out of their way to mingle and give thanks.

Sure, to some a mere autograph or a hug from your favorite actor might be meaningless, but to others, it can really go a long way and turn into a memory a fan will cherish for the rest of his or her life. So, in honor of what’s sure to be an absolute fan frenzy leading up to The Hunger Games’ release, here are some stories of a few generous stars the Hunger Games cast might want to learn a little something from as well as some encounters with Hunger Games stars who have already taken some steps in the right direction courtesy of the Hunger Games fandom.

Peter FacinelliLindsay of HG Girl On Fire – Peter Facinelli
While I haven't had much opportunity to interact (yet) with the cast of The Hunger Games, I have had a good deal of interaction with the cast of Twilight due to another site I run. I've met Peter Facinelli multiple times and he always shows he is available to the fans. It is key with stars of a mega franchise to manage their fans well. Peter says that as a kid, if he'd have walked up to a celebrity he looked up to, and that person had ignored him or had been rude, it would have made him feel devastated. He goes out of his way to be nice and available to his fans for that reason. I think Peter could give some amazing advice to our HG cast as they approach the world of stardom that they are about to be exposed to. First tip, treat them how you want to be treated!

Flo of Down With The Capitol – Josh Hutcherson
Meeting Josh Hutcherson was an experience beyond words. My fellow Down With the Capitol staffer Mary and I decided to make the trip to Asheville, North Carolina last summer to visit some of The Hunger Games movie related sites and maybe “see who we could see.” And see we did! We saw the back of Josh first and spent a few moments of whispered conversation confirming that it was actually him. Well, it was! I was freaking out so much that I pretty much couldn't move, so Mary went to get him and bring him back to where we were sitting. He was so incredibly sweet and down to earth. He signed a bunch of things for us, making conversation all the while. We talked a bit about Down With the Capitol (he reads the site!), his upcoming Entertainment Weekly article with Liam, Red Dawn and how much he was enjoying filming the The Hunger Games. Another fun thing about this meeting was that no one had really seen his blond hair at this point. Mary and I were among the first to see it and verify – yes, it does look "real." After he left I just couldn't stop saying, “He is Peeta!” I'd been excited about his casting when it was first announced, but meeting Peeta was literally, for me, meeting Peeta. Any doubts that may have lingered in my mind about his casting were completing extinguished.

Josh Hutcherson and ShylahShylah of Down With The Capitol – Josh Hutcherson
My husband, David, and I decided to go prepared. He painted a super awesome sign, and I crocheted a scarf for Josh. We arrived at Good Morning America studios in Times Square at about 6:25 - the crowd was pretty small, but there were some other die hard Hunger Games fans in attendance. Josh came out at 8:30, and we were so distracted, that we missed the trailer completely. (We also had no audio feed where we were.) Josh spoke with the hosts, and then did a segment where he donated a coat. They had a “stock” coat for him to put in the box, but he insisted on donating the coat he wore to GMA. (That was probably my favorite moment of the day.) After they finished with the Hunger Games segments, Josh stayed and signed ALL THE AUTOGRAPHS. When he made it over to me, I was able to give him the scarf (he wore it the rest of the time he was outside), and get him to sign some autographs! When I told him I was from Down With The Capitol, he said he remembered meeting a couple of ‘super sweet’ ladies in North Carolina over the summer - our own Mary and Flo! All in all, this experience put me completely at ease with Josh's casting as Peeta. He was charming, humble, and a complete gentleman - everything I could possibly want from the Boy With The Bread.

Crystal of Mockingkay.net – Matthew Fox
Although I can't say I've had the pleasure of meeting anyone from the Hunger Games cast, I do have some advice for people who may run into them on the street. I was a very big Lost fan and living on Oahu where it was filmed was thrilling because I was always on the lookout for them, only for some reason I never thought up what I would say to them if I ever did. One day I went to a local firing range and there was this guy there that looked like he could be the Matthew Fox, i.e. arguably the most important character in the entire series. Since you were supposed to sign in, I casually wandered over to the book and saw his name written down, "Matt Fox." I was excited, but couldn't exactly go up to him while he was shooting and go all fan girl on him because what could possibly irritate a celebrity more than that? It turned out though, that we were leaving at the exact same time and were parked only a couple of cars away. Still not having worked out what to say, I said one of the dumbest things possible, "Excuse me, are you Matthew F... oh," because as soon as he turned around to look at me, my brain began setting off stupidity alarms. Of course he was Matthew Fox. Hadn't I just confirmed it in the sign in book? Unfortunately, this only seemed to occur to me when Jack Shepherd, stubbly beard and all, was staring at me from two feet away. I somehow mumbled through a short conversation with him and got his autograph and he was very nice, but the bottom line is, if you know it's him/her, don't start off asking if they're who you know they are because after making such a blunder, you'll have a hard time concentrating on what to say next.

Michelle and Josh Hutcherson

Michelle of The Hob – Josh Hutcherson
I'm writing this with a smile on my face because meeting Josh Hutcherson will do that to you. No lie! Meeting him is like taking a bottle of happy pills. (Don't you see how perfect he is for Peeta?) My own Josh encounter happened when he visited Good Morning America in November. Before that I had a nice idea of him - he always seemed personable and cordial in interviews; and he certainly was both of those things in person. But what I found most endearing was how he interacted with his fans. Josh was so appreciative and charming and genuine; he took his time when speaking with someone and gave them his full attention. (He even snapped a photo with me, despite me standing in the boonies of Times Square and his publicist calling him away.) So, I could keep gushing (seriously, email me and I will), but it's pretty clear Josh won me over at GMA. And with all the über-fame about to come his way with The Hunger Games, I don't think he needs to worry about leaving a good impression on anyone he meets.

Kait of Victor’s Village – Rupert Grint
Back in 2007, I was lucky enough to interview Rupert Grint on the red carpet at the premiere of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I was working on a Rupert Grint fansite at the time and I was beyond nervous. In fact, I still can't watch the video of the interview to this day because my voice cracks so badly. Despite that, Rupert was calm, friendly, and completely gracious. It was then that I realized that actors are sweet, kind people - albeit way cooler than me! I have a totally different type of respect for them now.

The Hob with Jackie Emerson and Amandla StenbergAmanda of The Hob - Jackie Emerson and Amandla Stenberg
I still remember looking through the list of celebrities expected to attend the Breaking Dawn red carpet premiere last November, and letting out a fangirl squeal when I saw Jackie Emerson’s and Amandla Stenberg’s names included. Megan and I were both attending the red carpet and were instantly on the lookout for the two actresses. Megan met Jackie first and got to see the look of surprise on her face when she saw that Megan had a Hunger Games poster! Jackie then graciously – and excitedly – signed the poster for us (which we later gave away on our site) and, upon hearing that Megan was from The Hob said, “I love you guys! I go to you for Hunger Games news.” That alone made our night! I then had the amazing opportunity to interview Jackie for a few minutes. She was so friendly and down to earth - you could instantly tell that she was truly excited to be a part of The Hunger Games. While we missed Amandla on the red carpet, we ran into her and Jackie at the after party. (Amandla is the tiniest thing!) After talking briefly about our shared Hunger Games excitement, we took a quick group photo to remember the night. Jackie and Amandla were completely adorable and as sweet as can be, and we’re thrilled to have them as a part of the movie and a part of the fandom.

Elena of The Hunger Games Movies – Josh Hutcherson
I met Josh Hutcherson when he was promoting the film Cirque du Freak. The first thing I noticed and the thing that has stayed with me about him is that he is incredibly genuine. At such a young age he's already a Hollywood veteran with over two dozen roles under his belt, but you'd never guess that if you just met him. He seems completely unphased by cameras flashing and people shouting his name. He is down-to-earth in a way that most actors aren't and I think this will serve him well as he enters into the craziness that will ensue when Hunger Games hits theaters.

Got any memorable celebrity encounters you’d like to share? Please tell us about them in the comments section below!

The Hunger Games Countdown runs here on Movies.com every other Wednesday. There are 57 days until release.

Categories: Features, Countdown Column
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