The Hunger Games’ Willow Shields and Amandla Stenberg Reveal Set Secrets and More for the Film’s DVD ReleaseBased on the best-selling book by Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games rocked the globe when the film came out in March. It introduced moviegoers to the twisted futuristic world of Panem and its brutal, annual Hunger Games, where children are randomly selected to battle to the death on camera. Actress Jennifer Lawrence embodied the heroine of Katniss Everdeen perfectly, and a new mega film franchise was born. The movie also introduced a cast of fresh faces to the world, including Willow Shields (Primrose Everdeen) and Amandla Stenberg (Rue), who we talked to about the August 18 DVD release of The Hunger Games. By Tara Bennett
When you think back on the movie releases of 2012, it feels a bit like a blur of capes and spandex, what with the constant stream of superhero movies that came out. But a quick look at the yearly box office tally reminds us that the second-highest-grossing film of the year was actually cape-free and featured an unassuming young woman who sparked a future revolution with her compassion and mad skills with a bow and arrow. Yes, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) rocked audiences in The Hunger Games, which raked in more than $400 million in theaters, with the promise of three more sequels to come.
On August 18, The Hunger Games arrives on DVD and Blu-ray with three hours’ worth of special features focused on the making of the film and the young cast who shot the film last summer with director Gary Ross in the remote forests of North Carolina. Two standouts from the supporting cast are young actresses Willow Shields, who plays Katniss’s little sister Primrose, and Amandla Stenberg, who plays Rue, the sweet female Tribute from District 11. Snakkle got the chance to sit down with these bubbly ladies to talk about the DVD release and laugh about some of the weirder aspects of being part of the whole Hunger Games phenomenon.
Snakkle: So it’s safe to say your lives have changed a bit since the movie came out?
Willow Shields: Yeah, definitely. We can go anywhere and we each have someone ask, “Are you Rue?” or “Are you Prim?” [Laughs]
Amandla Stenberg: For me it depends on whether or not I’m wearing my hair down. If I’m wearing it up, it’s fine. But down, it’s “Oh my gosh, Rue!” [Laughs]
Snakkle: There are several special Blu-ray editions of the film coming out with lots of exclusive behind-the-scenes material about the making of The Hunger Games. What are you most excited about fans seeing?
Shields: There was a camera on set every day filming for the [DVD] behind the scenes. It was exciting. There will be some footage of us shooting scenes that were not in the movie.
Stenberg: It’s cool to see us goofing off and being ourselves. I think people don’t realize we are not our characters.
Shields: Yes, I’m not Prim… I’m Willow. [Laughs]
Stenberg: Everyone calls me Rue now. I think it will be funny to see Glimmer [Leven Rambin] eyeing Rue, and then they cut, and then we’re listening to “Super Bass” by Nicki Minaj and dancing. It will be funny to see.
Snakkle: Amandla, how is it being immortalized as a Rue action figure?
Stenberg: I just got it and I was playing with it, and it’s pretty cool!
Snakkle: Did either of you do anything out of the ordinary for your auditions?
Stenberg: Well, I was a fan girl before I even auditioned, so I was super nervous for my audition and then super stoked when I got it. I couldn’t even believe it. It was only two auditions. One audition was with the casting director, Debbie Zane, and she gave me advice for the callback… which was to dress up like Rue. So I came to director Gary Ross’s house completely dressed in torn clothes, with mud all over me, with leaves and twigs in my hair. He has a really nice house, of course, so I had to be really careful where I was walking so I didn’t leave a trail of mud. And of course I couldn’t sit with everyone else. I had to sit on a stool because I couldn’t sit on his nice suede furniture. [Laughs]
Snakkle: Did you both get to meet author Suzanne Collins?
Shields: Suzanne Collins is amazing. She’s incredibly nice. I met her at the premiere. I didn’t have a chance to meet her when she was in North Carolina while we were filming.
Stenberg: I met her on set. She came for my death scene. She gave me advice about it, which was so helpful, and it was amazing to meet her.
Snakkle: Rue’s death scene was deeply profound. How was it to play that as an actress?
Stenberg: You know, it was hard but was more weird. I got into the mind-set of Rue and it was kind of like, “What are you thinking about when you are dying?” which is a weird thing to think about.
Snakkle: When you both saw the film for the first time with an audience, were you watching the screen or the audience’s reactions?
Shields: Sometimes people’s reactions, because it’s funny, like you’re looking up at the screen and you see yourself, then you look around and think, “Do they even know who is sitting next to them?” [Laughs]
Stenberg: The first time I went to see it was with my friends and family. My death scene had just happened, and my best friend was literally sobbing and shaking. I said, “I’m okay. I’m right here. I’m not dead.” I’m trying to make her feel better, and this woman turns to me and says, “Shhh! You’re ruining the death scene.” [Laughs]
Snakkle: What scene really got to you when you watched the final film?
Shields: When Rue died. It was the scene that most affected me while reading the book. I was actually listening to it on tape. I was sitting there thinking, “Why? Why? How could this happen?”
Stenberg: People always ask me if I cry when I see myself die, and I’m like, you have to be really self-involved to cry when you see yourself. “Oh my God! What is the world going to do without me?” [Laughs] But the scene that actually made me cry was the cornucopia scene, because it was so disturbing and shocking seeing all my friends beating each other up and stabbing each other. It was so weird to see.
Snakkle: How was it shooting on location in North Carolina?
Shields: Great. In some scenes with Katniss running with her bow and arrow to go into the woods, you see a background of beat-up old houses. We shot in an abandoned little village. Our house was old. Stairs were breaking and they had these amazing old props. It was incredible, and a little scary, because they were old houses that had been boarded up.
Snakkle: Willow, Francis Lawrence is the new director for the sequel, Catching Fire. Have you talked yet?
Shields: I have not talked to him yet. I can’t wait, and I’m really excited to work with him. Gary was an amazing director, and he did an amazing job. I’m really sad to see him go, but I’m also really excited to see what Francis does with Catching Fire.
Snakkle: Any of the cast you’re most excited to do some scenes with this time around?
Shields: I’m excited to work with Josh Hutcherson [Peeta] and Woody Harrelson [Haymitch]. They are amazing actors, and I didn’t get to do any scenes with them in the first movie.
Snakkle: What about this book makes it special?
Shields: I think the most powerful thing about the book is that there are no werewolves or vampires in it. It’s got a very powerful message in a world that’s not very far from our own. It’s a warning, or even a prediction, so that definitely had an effect on me.
Snakkle: What’s next for you professionally?
Shields: I did an episode of a TV show on The Hub called The Haunting Hour. Then I have Catching Fire.
Stenberg: I feel so fancy when I say this, but I have a couple projects in the works that I can’t talk about yet. [Laughs] We’ll see.
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