Harry Potter is in our rear view mirror, and Twilight isn’t far behind. But fear not, oh fantasy and young romance lovers. Suzanne Collins is here to entertain us with her bewitching trilogy of novels, The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay.
And yes, I’ve actually and uncharacteristically read — and loved — all three books before any movies will hit the big screen. The first heads to theater on March 23, 2012, and I’ve included here a few photos from the Vanity Fair photo shoot in Concord, North Carolina.
What I would have given to be lurking behind a tree when it all went down. I imagine there must be folks trying to get a glimpse of the filmmaking.
The Hunger Games is a post-apocalyptic drama that takes place in Panem, a North American country divided into 12 districts. Collins got the idea for the series from watching footage of the Iraq war and reality television — a dangerous combination, but certainly entertaining for the rest of us.
In the story, every child aged 12 to 18 is entered into an annual lottery known as “the reaping.” Each district selects a boy and a girl to compete with kids from the other districts in a televised fight to the death. The last one standing wins a life free of pain and suffering. Well, except for the physical and emotional scars of the Hunger Games.
Writer-director Gary Ross (Seabiscuit) is adapting the first book for the screen and said that his kids turned him onto the series. “I went nuts,” said Ross in the Vanity Fair story. “You rarely get a tentpole that has this much emotional depth, this much character to dive into.”
Jennifer Lawrence, who bowled me over with her role in Winter’s Bone — for which she earned an Oscar nomination last year — is playing the heroine Katniss Everdeen. When her younger sister Prim is chosen as a “tribute” for the reaping, Katniss volunteers to take her place.
Lawrence noted that Katniss is an incredible character. “She’s a hunter but not a killer, a 16-year-old who’s being forced into the arena. These kids are killing one another only because if they don’t, they’ll die. It’s heartbreaking.”
Josh Hutcherson, who played Laser in last year’s The Kids Are All Right, plays Peeta, the “baker boy” whose family runs a local bakery. He’s loved Katniss since childhood, but has never been able to express it.When He’s chosen as the male tribute, he and Katniss must fake a romance for the cameras — only he’s not faking it.
“My mind was blown by how much I felt I was like Peeta,” said Hutcherson. “We shot in the forest near Asheville, North Carolina — a lot of fight scenes, very physically demanding. Jennifer and I totally hit it off. We’re both crazy people. We don’t hold anything back.”
That only makes me want to see this movie even more. Well, that and the fact that it’s just a really great story with wonderful characters, including Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth), who plays Katniss’ childhood friend.
Check out my Hunger Games 101, and tell me what you think of the Vanity Fair photos. I think they’re gorgeous