By Olu Alemoru, Staff Writer
What a difference a year makes?
Jennifer Lawrence, Hollywood’s biggest young star of the moment, has an Oscar and fetching pixie cut as she reprises her role as Katniss Everdeen in “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.”
The shiny acting bauble is hers to keep, but the new hairdo will most likely be traded in for a longer mane when Lionsgate Films releases the third film in author Suzanne Collin’s trilogy, “The Hunger Games: Mockingay,” slated for November next year.
In an altogether more exciting and dramatic sequel, the feisty heroine is back with the usual suspects; fellow Hunger Games tribute and pretend love Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), District 12 sweetheart Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth), drunken and comical tribute Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson) and tribute minders Cinna (Lenny Kravitz) and Effie Trinket.
Meanwhile, the calmly tyrannical President Coriolanus (Donald Sutherland) raises his megalomania ante quite a bit. Behind the camera, the franchise has a new director in Francis Lawrence, who has also been tapped to helm the two-part release of Mockinjay and a slicker, funnier script by Simon Beaufoy and Michael Arndt.
As the story unfolds, after a brief time at home, Katniss and Peeta are reluctantly paraded around the other districts on their victory tour, until Snow, sensing a nasty case of rebellion in the wind announces a new tournament. But the 75th Hunger Games, known as a Quarter Quell, an event taking place every 25 years, has a twist — the combatants will be reaped from the Hall of Fame lineup of victors and Katniss and Peeta get two of the short straws, as do newcomers, cocky killer Finnick Odair (Sam Claflin), spaced out femme Wiress (Amanda Plummer) and the mercurial Beetee (Jeffrey Wright).
From then on it’s a new and improved fight for survival.
Both Lawrence and Wright, in particular, were on good form during a recent L.A. media gathering to talk about the film.
Why do you think the franchise has become so compelling?
Lawrence: I was personally excited when I started reading these books. It was such a great series that spoke to young adults. It was something very important; a wonderful message that showed just how powerful one voice can be. That’s a great message for our generation to see how important they are in shaping our society. I think we’ve become completely de-sensitized in our shock factor and the media continues to feed what you want.
Wright: One of the things, aside from the thematics, that attracted me to this was that there had already been tremendous work done by the other actors. This is an epic movie on a scale that we don’t see a lot of now. I think these are really poignant, relatable ideas that are presented in an intelligent way that allows the reader or audience to place themselves in that world. For me, it just seems to make sense; you provide entertainment escapism that doesn’t discount the complexities of who we are and what the world is undergoing.
Jennifer, did the cast treat you any different having won the Oscar?
Lawrence: I was hoping so; I was like things are gonna be very different now and when I saw everyone they were like ‘good for you.’ It made me a target though. Every time I messed up a line somebody said ‘Oh, I think you better give that Oscar back.’
Jennifer Lawrence is back as Katniss Everdeen.