More photos from the red carpet
One thing is pretty clear about the upcoming film adaptation The Hunger Games – the die-hard fans are losing their minds in anticipation.
Hundreds of them had set up camp outside the Nokia Live Theater this week, hoping for a chance to get a coveted ticket to Monday's premiere. As they pressed in next to scores of media outlets along the black carpet outside, the noise from the screaming masses as they cheered for their favorite characters could've drowned out the sound of ten jet engines. Amidst all this craziness, we managed to nab a few quotes from the stars as they showed up.
Star Jennifer Lawrence, who portrays the story’s 16-year-old heroine Katniss Everdeen -- the Tribute from District 12 fighting for her life in the brutal Games -- looked like a star in a gold Prabal Gurung gown. She stopped to talk to a few reporters, but quickly made her way over to a group of clamoring fans to sign posters, books from The Hunger Games trilogy -- and anything else they threw at her -- before going in the doors.
Lawrence’s co-stars Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth -- who play Katniss’ allies Peeta Mellark and Gale Hawthorne, respectively – were taken aback by all the attention.
Said Hutcherson, “I’ve never had girls scream at me before, so that’s a first.” He added that his life has been changed from the experience. “I have a schedule now, which I never used to have. I’m a very spontaneous person, so to have to be here at this time, walk up, stand there, is a new thing.”
Hemsworth relied on his older brother, Chris Hemsworth (reprising his character Thor in the upcoming The Avengers), to help guide him through all the fan madness. “My brother had somewhat been through it, and he’s always been a big role model in my life so I took as much knowledge from him as I could.”
Hemsworth laughed when asked who would kick butt in the Games, he or his girlfriend, Miley Cyrus. “Aw, probably her. She’s a tough girl, that one.”
Willow Shields, who plays Katniss’ younger sister Primrose and the catalyst for bringing Katniss into the Arena, was amazed by the fan support. “Yesterday I signed [for] some fans. I had 7-year-olds coming up and asking for pictures, [they were] so sweet and respectful.”
Jack Quaid, the son of Meg Ryan and Dennis Quaid, is making his debut in The Hunger Games, playing Marvel from District 1. He’s a Career Tribute, which means he’s been training for this his entire life. “I kinda made him a geek, the Hunger Games’ No. 1 fan.” But he didn’t expect facing these No. 1 fans to be like this. “Never in my wildest dreams could I imagine anything close to this; it’s so surreal. It’s a little overwhelming, but I’m loving it.”
Leven Rambin, who plays Glimmer, Marvel’s female Tribute counterpart, said one question she has been asked repeatedly regards how she is eliminated in the Games. “What does it look like when you get killed by a tracker jacker [the poisonous wasp-like bugs whose stingers can cause hallucinations and even death]? That’s a big surprise, so it’s kind of cool.”
Isabelle Fuhrman, who plays another badass Tribute named Clove, was touched by the fans’ emotions, especially “seeing the people that were crying. Not only because they saw us, but mainly because they are seeing the story that they love come to life. Can you imagine that, you love a book and you wish you could meet those characters – and then you get to? They were so passionate about it, makes me feel good about being an actress.”
Fellow co-star Alexander Ludwig (who plays the bloodthirsty Tribute Cato) concurred. “Definitely when tears erupt, you feel so touched. At the same time, you don’t know what to do. You get closer, saying, ‘Please stop crying’ and then they start crying more. It’s nuts.”
Dayo Okeniyi, who plays Tribute Thresh, talked about the recent mall tours made by the cast. “Man, I got there and I thought what I was hearing was wind. And the closer we got, it was like, ‘No, moron, it’s not wind. It’s people screaming!’ It was overwhelming. I know they are not there to see Dayo, they are there to see Thresh. It’s incredible.”
As for the adults in the film, they, too, have been amazed by how the fans have been reacting. Wes Bentley, who plays Head Gamemaker Seneca Crane, said, “I think the weirdest thing was getting off the plane to shoot the movie and there were people already there with books – and signing those books, thinking, ‘I don’t even know what I’m going to do yet!’”
As it happens, most of the actors in the film say they’re fans of The Hunger Games themselves – and many were viewing the film for the first time at the premiere. What were they looking forward to seeing played out on screen?
Quaid said, “The Cornucopia scene [where the Tributes run to a stockpile of survival-oriented items placed in the middle of launch pads before the beginning of the Games] is up there -- and any scene with Stanley Tucci [who plays the Games host Caesar Flickerman]. I love that guy.”
Joked Okeniyi, “There’s this character named Thresh. And there’s this moment when he kind of saves Katniss’ life.” He added, “The cave scenes between Katniss and Peeta. I think that moment defines those characters.”
And they all agree Katniss is a strong and wonderful role model. Leven Rambin said, “Katniss’ strength as a female character, you really don’t get that a lot. She’s not a damsel in distress; she fights, she’s resourceful.”
Elizabeth Banks, who portrays the morally questionable District 12 escort Effie Trinket, added, “She’s strong and she chooses light and hope and love, instead of darkness and horribleness.”
The poised young Shields basically summed it up, crediting the author Suzanne Collins for The Hunger Games’ brilliance. “Suzanne Collins is one of the most amazing writers in the world. We owe it all to her. This is why we are here, because of Suzanne Collins.”
The Hunger Games begin March 23.