Team 'Hunger Games' talks: Author Suzanne Collins and director Gary Ross on their allegiance to each other, and their actors -- EXCLUSIVE

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Image Credit: Todd Plitt/Scholastic; Jason Kempin/Getty Images

The Hunger Games best-selling author Suzanne Collins and director Gary Ross always figured they’d respect each other well enough. Ross was a passionate fan of her best-selling trilogy; Collins really dug his past films (Seabiscuit, Pleasantville). What they didn’t anticipate was how much they’d instantly trust each other’s vision, to the point where the two were soon meeting for long-past-midnight script writing sessions. In this exclusive conversation with EW, they describe the joy of becoming unexpectedly fierce collaborators throughout every aspect of pre-production — and that includes casting. For all those fans out there who’ve howled with rage and dismay over recent casting announcements, Ross and Collins insist they’ve found the perfect people to bring Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence), Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), and Gale (Liam Hemsworth) fully to life. They’ve got their actors’ backs, just as they have each other’s. (Note: SPOILER WARNING — major plot details are discussed below!)

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Suzanne, did you know going in what kind of a role you wanted to have on the film?
SUZANNE COLLINS: At the beginning, I attached myself as the first screenwriter. I was writing the third book and there was great secrecy about it and no one could know how it ended. But I knew that if the screenplay got off on the wrong foot, that you could end up with something by which you could never reach the events of the third book. And since I couldn’t reveal information to the film team, I wanted to be around to keep an eye on that. After that, I didn’t know.

A lot of writers choose, or are encouraged, to back slowly away as their book journeys to the big screen. When did you realize this was going to be a genuine collaboration with Gary?
SC: It’s much easier to step back and withdraw from this sort of process then to be drawn in. Gary seemed like a really nice guy and he made these great movies, but we didn’t know each other. And then he finally sends me his draft of the screenplay, and I’m like, “Oh my God, he found the emotional arc to the story!” Up to that point, we hadn’t really ever cracked that in the script. So I go out to L.A., but even then it wasn’t until we sat down and started writing together that I was fully on board.

What had been missing in previous drafts?
SC: When I look at the development of the script, there was the draft I did condensing down the book — what could be cut out of it, and then filling out the backstage stories. Because in the film, we have the ability to cut away from Katniss’ head. The one thing I had never been able clearly to see was not “What’s the dramatic question?” Because the dramatic question is fairly forthright: Is she going to live? But it’s the emotional arc that exists between Katniss and Peeta. I saw in Gary’s draft that it was the first time it had been successfully done as an overall arc. Without it you have a film, you have a story, but you risk losing the kind of emotional impact that the film might have. And I thought, “Well, if they want me in, I have to come. I see it working now! Now they’ve got me and they’ll be no getting out. Because I want to be in now.”

Gary, what do you think you were able to bring to the script?
GARY ROSS: Both Suzanne and [screenwriter] Billy Ray had done wonderful work, but I told Billy when I began — and he’s a director as well and a very good one — that I would have to put this into my own voice. And I wanted to get back as close as I could to the essence of the book and the emotional arc. To get inside Katniss’ skin and understand how she grows, largely through her relationship with Peeta. I needed to have fresh clay to do that. And then when the draft was done and I got in the room with Suzanne, it was a very, very spontaneous process. It was like…

SC: It was a little crazy! And I mean that in a good way. I have a pretty big TV background, and I have clocked so many hours in so many writers’ rooms over the years. There’s this certain period of adjustment where you discover if you’re compatible. But what happened with Gary, it was almost instantaneous.

GR: I think we had maybe 15 minutes of discussion, and then we instantly transitioned into writing together seamlessly. You’d pitch a line and I’d pitch the next line and before you knew it, we had a dialogue scene. And then we were both just getting excited from that. These are characters and a world that’s entirely her invention. Sometimes we’ll be working on a scene together and I almost get this giddy feeling because the characters we’re talking about are ones she’s created. I really haven’t had a real writing partner since Anne Spielberg on Big, and I feel like I’ve found that wonderful collaborative electricity again.

How invigorating has this been for you Suzanne after several years of writing alone?
SC: It was great, because having spent years in TV rooms, I was used to collaborative writing, and if you’re with good people it’s really fun. But then with the books, it’s been just me talking to me. And I get a little tedious after a while. [Laughs]

GR: And now it’s really evolved beyond writing, because Suzanne is very adroit and savvy about production. She has a lot of sophistication about the filmmaking process that isn’t just from a writer’s perspective out. So we have discussions about costume design, about set design, we talk about casting.

Each bit of casting news has been met with a real roar from the fans. How are you both handling that? Did you expect such outrage?
SC: Any time you read a book and get attached to the characters, to me it’s always a shock when it goes from page to screen and it’s not exactly what was in my head or what I was imagining it should be. So there’s always that period of adjustment. But I think we feel so solid about our casting choices, and so thrilled that we’ve gotten these three young people in those roles, that nothing can really eclipse it.

GR: I really agree with Suzanne that it’s wonderful that people have such a vivid image of Katniss and Peeta and Gale and they hold it so dearly. But Suzanne and I have the advantage of having seen these guys audition for these roles, and I would never judge any role or any actor until I’ve seen them perform it.

SC: And you know people may get thrown, say, by the color of an actor’s hair or maybe something physical, but I tell you: If Josh had been bright purple and had had six foot wings and gave that audition, I’d have been like “Cast him! We can work around the wings.” He was that good. That role is so key to have a boy that can use language. That’s how Peeta navigates the world, that’s his gift, and Josh was the one who could bring that to life in such a real and natural way.

GR: I remember Suzanne was actually in the room the day Josh came in and read for the first time. After the reading, we looked at each other, we didn’t even have to say anything, because we both were like “Wow, that’s it.” Literally he walked out of the room and we high-fived.

SC: We did. We didn’t even say anything. We just turned to each other and high-fived. And people should know that of course we’re taking the gravest care in casting these characters. It’s not arbitrary. It’s of the utmost importance to us that we get the actors who can best bring these characters alive on the screen. Every one of those kids earned those roles by virtue of the auditions they gave. Those three kids? They were all our first choice.

GR: We’ve seen Liam and we’ve seen Josh Hutcherson be Gale and Peeta, respectively.

SC: And then we also had the luxury of getting to see them perform with Jen. So then you have a whole other level which is the chemistry between the characters.  We can tell you it’s there but you’ll have to see it for yourself.

Some readers have expressed real frustration that white actors were cast in the roles of Katniss and Gale, who they felt were clearly described as biracial in the book. Do you understand or share any of that dismay Suzanne?
SC: They were not particularly intended to be biracial. It is a time period where hundreds of years have passed from now. There’s been a lot of ethnic mixing. But I think I describe them as having dark hair, grey eyes, and sort of olive skin. You know, we have hair and makeup. But then there are some characters in the book who are more specifically described.

GR: Thresh and Rue.

SC: They’re African-American.

So will those roles go to black actors?
GR: Thresh and Rue will be African-American. It’s a multi-racial culture and the film will reflect that. But I think Suzanne didn’t see a particular ethnicity to Gale and Katniss when she wrote it, and that’s something we’ve talked about a lot. She was very specific about the qualities that these characters have and who they are as people. Having seen Josh and Liam and Jen perform these roles, that’s really the most important thing. They’re very much the characters to us.

Suzanne, do you know how much time you plan on spending on set this summer?
GR: Plenty! [Laughs] Oh Suzanne, do you want to answer that?

SC: See, he’s revising me now. I expect that I will be bouncing back and forth between set and home for most of the production. I definitely want to be there in the early stages for the performers, if anybody has questions about their characters. Sometimes for the writer, the day on set begins and there’s not a whole lot for you to do other than hang out at the craft services table and eat junk food. But there are definitely sequences that I just have to be there to see them film.

What sequences are you most excited about?
SC: I have to see the fire. I have to see the bloodbath at the Cornucopia. I have to see Rue’s death. There’s a couple of the cave scenes with Peeta and Katniss. Now I’m going to go through it and I’m just going to pick every scene. It’s all just a little too exciting to miss.

Read more:
‘The Hunger Games': Now that we have the main three, who should play Haymitch, Effie, and Prim?
‘Hunger Games’ casts Peeta and Gale: Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth nab the roles
‘Hunger Games’ director Gary Ross talks about ‘the easiest casting decision of my life’
Jennifer Lawrence will play Katniss in ‘The Hunger Games’

Comments (377 total) Add your comment
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  • Kay

    Well i trust their casting and am very excited to see how it all turns out!

    • Just no

      “But I think Suzanne didn’t see a particular ethnicity to Gale and Katniss”
      —————————————So if they didn’t think Katniss and Gale were any particular ethnicity why did you ONLY audition White actors. Why not broaden the field to Asian, Black, Indian and Hispanic actors? Thanks for sitting there and lying to the fans. You all DID have an ethnicity in mind: White only. Sorry but Josh is a shrimp without charisma and looks nothing like Peeta. Again lying straight to the fans. Why spend paragraphs DEFENDING the choice of Josh if he is so perfect. This interview is telling in so many disappointing ways.

      • Hope

        Hear Hear!

      • Taylor Brown

        you all are racist for noticing that they cast all white actors

      • emma

        We have no idea how many people they auditioned or what ethnic backgrounds they had. These are the people who won the parts. They won because of their auditions. Stop reading so much into it. And if you think they are being racist don’t go to the movie, simple as that.

      • Peeta bread

        @Emma: you are wrong. The casting call asked for CAUCASIAN ONLY. In the interview Suzanne Collins says that Katniss and Peeta were no particular ethnicity. She also says that my that time there has been a lot of ethnic mixing. So if anything they casting call should have asked for a big mixture of ethnicities. Read the interview again.

      • Sarah

        Did any of you read Mockingjay? There is a part (spoilers) where Katniss is decribing her recently burned skin, and the differences between the baby pink skin grafts and the WHITE skin around it.

      • bob

        you mad, bro?

      • Nemo

        I love that the author and director are so open in talking about the casting process. It’s pretty awesome. It makes you feel like you’re a part of the movie’s development.

      • alie374

        cause Katniss’ sister is freaking BLOND, that’s why! It’s not racism, it’s just coherance.

      • Betsey

        Sarah, I just want to thank you for making me laugh for ten straight minutes, because you are so right! Anyone who read the books and actually knows what having olive skin means would know that she is caucasian. Her mom has Blonde hair, and all that “olive” skin means is that you tan instead of burn, you’re still white!

      • Kaila

        If people of other ethnicities auditioned they probably wouldn’t of been picked not because of racism but because that wasn’t what she’s looking for. Stop dissecting little words and thing of the big picture.
        And Peeta didn’t look like anything before he was cast.
        Common sense. Its not like shes going to ask you personally on your opinion of who they should pick.

      • Anna

        @Emma: we know they didn’t audition that many people because auditions didn’t start until late January, they asked for ‘Caucasians’ only and then the 3 actors were picked 2 months later. You think 2 months is long enough to do a broad search of the best talent in the country? They have had the rights to this movie since 2009 but sat on their butts and did nothing to start auditioning unknowns. You don’t think there are good talented unknowns in the country that also look closer to the characters described in the book in all 300 Million people in the U.S.A.? It’s lazy casting. We got the best out of a tiny pool. EW has been pimping Josh since this whole thing started. They are helping to sell this movie, Collins and Ross won’t do interviews with other reporters. I’m sure they could have found a better unknown than Josh and a better unknown than Liam. Lazy casting results in lazy film making.

      • Jazzy

        Did you not notice that Katniss’s mom and sister where bothe described in the book as Blound haired and blue eyed? How could Katniss be biracial when her sister so clearly was not?

      • girly

        Thankyou!!!!!

      • girly

        @ Taylor Brown- Tell us that once you can go back and time and can delete Black slavery, or Native Americans being on reserves, then call us all racist. Think about it, we’re racist for wanting to see people like us on screen while Native Americans have to live on reserves. yeah, thought so.

      • girly

        @ sarah
        She was burned. everyone skin can turn white when they are burned.

      • Anna

        @Jazzy: biracial children CAN have blonde blue-eyed siblings while they have dark hair and grey eyes. It’s the genetic mixing and recessive genes that brings those out. Collins herself said there has been ethnic mixing and Katniss/Peeta aren’t a particular ethnicity. Random thought: I just noticed that in that picture, Collins looks a lot like Jennifer Lawrence.

      • Aly

        She also said Katniss had “olive” skin which is in general a way people describe a particular type of “white” skin. There is going to be plenty of different races in the movie. They said so in this article. Rue and Thresh will both be African American, and I’m sure they will put other races in there as well. If they cast Gale and Katniss as African Americans or some other race you know you’d be pissed. Don’t lie. Don’t complain about the fact that there “only casting white people” because you know you’d be pissed if it were any other way. Just sit down, shut up and let them do their jobs.

      • You’ve got to be kidding me.

        “Just No” ??
        jesus christ shut up. Everyone and their “racist” problems. It’s freaking laughable how worked up and close minded people can be.
        Do you not realize who you’re offending? The AUTHOR of the book. Everyone from that series is from HER mind. She can choose whoever she damn well pleases and everyone should accept it. If this is bothering so much that you’re making a comment like this I really hope you don’t call yourself a fan of the series or Suzanne. Do yourself a favor and just ignore everything about the movie if it’s creating a reaction like this from you.

      • Shane

        I laughed. I didn’t think of any ethnicity. maybe Thresh and Rue, which are already picked and are what I thought of. You don’t need to cry and complain. If they ONLY auditioned White Actors, why are there African Americans in there, huh? I laugh at you. Stop crying and just wait for the movie to come out.

      • sam129

        If you look on imdb and read where all of the actors/actresses are from, you’ll find that a ton of them are not caucasian, and many are even from different countries. One actress is from Kuwait, and there are Hispanic and Hawaiian actors. And, they made sure that Thresh and Rue were played by African-American actors. This is actually probably one of the most ethnically diverse movies ever, looking at the cast. Clearly the casting crew is not racist.

      • myra

        Who will they cast as buttercup?
        a) a very old geriatric cat that is also a great actor because after all in movies and tv old cats always play kittens.
        b) a red or black cat with acting experience and awards nominations because after all color is not important they will dye its hair and acting is more important. Plus it’s impossible to cast a yellow cat that also has acting talent.
        c) a black old cat that became famous not because his acting but its singing but had a 5 minute role in a movie and gary ross liked his acting.
        d) Cate blanchet! She is an oscar winner actress and because of that she can pull off anything. If you don’t think she is the right one watch all of her previous movies. She even played BOB DYLAN!
        e) a yellow mashed-in nose,half of one ear missing, eyes the color of rotting squad.
        f) a squirrel or a dog because there is one thing called makeup and there’s also Hollywood magic.
        G)None of the above they will just cut out Buttercup because he is a minor role.

      • Shamain

        Uhh.. I’m sure the author of the book, Suzanne Collins, has a better idea/picture of what Peeta is actually supposed to look like. Y’know, seeing as she created him…? I think Josh Hutcherson is perfect and so are all the others who’ve been cast in separate roles. It is beyond unfair to judge these actors without having even seen them in action.

      • CANDY

        Sheesh, you’d think you lost the part to Josh Hutcherson or something! Who cares if Katniss and Gale are white?! I was amazed at how much the pictures of the actors chosen, resembled the picture I got in my mind FROM THE BOOKS DESCRIPTION! So then how is the author lying to us exactly? And how is it that Josh looks nothing like Peeta with his blonde hair and blue eyes? Sorry to disappoint you but I guess they couldn’t find anyone with a mechanical leg. Two legs only, discriminating as it may be.

      • hungergamesultrafan

        @taylor brown

        Um rue, thesh, cinna? All african american so no ones racist! relax urself…..

      • luistard

        I actually think that Josh was a good selection. He may not be what fans thought he looked, but he was charming, and thats one of Peeta’s strongest attribute.
        Otherwise I agree, I don’t care if any of the secondary characters are white, black or whatever, but Katniss had to have olive skin. It was racist that they only asked for Caucasian when it said that she had olive skin.

      • Blondey

        @Girly ummm you obviously don’t do much research about slavery since if you did you would know that over the course of history more white people were slaves than were blacks…..

      • Jewel

        VICTORIA SAYS: MARCH 16, 2011 AT 1:26 PM
        “Katniss has grey eyes, a blonde sister, and an Anglo surname.”
        Your point? I have green eyes, a blonde sister, an Anglo surname (Coton) and yet I’m a Person of Color – my father is half Black half Japanese.
        1) blonde hair/light skin/light eyes are not exclusively white traits.
        2) there was this thing, maybe you’ve heard of it – it lasted for quite a while (as in centuries), called COLONIALISM. Where Europeans went around draining resources, abusing, massacring, kidnapping, ENSLAVING people and RAPING women. The slaves were forced to have the surnames of their slavers and the children of the raped women were often forced to take the surnames of their abusers. As such, People of Color have long had Anglo surnames.
        3) There are also mixed-race children who have Anglo surnames.
        your ignorance = astounding.

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    • Sarah

      Thank you Betsey! I just love how everyone is up in arms about how they are described in the books, without paying attention to how they are decribed…in the books. Descriptions don’t always end after the first few pages.

      • Peeta bread

        Well my dear Sarah both Katniss and Peeta ARE described as having OLIVE SKIN multiple times in the book. Also according to Suzanne Collins Katniss is not supposed to be any particular race and lives in a multiethnic world so she would NOT be white (which is a race/ethnicity). So she is contradicting both you and her own books.

      • Kaila

        ^^^^^^^
        Olive skin is white. I am white and have olive skin. There’s called make-up that they use on actors for movies.
        When will people get over this? lol

      • Red

        @KAila, the author of the books describes her world of the future where races and ethnicities are ‘mixed’ NOTHING about the actors chosen suggests even the SLIGHTEST that they are or could be ‘mixed’.

        Who says only White people can have Olive skin?

      • Peeta bread

        @Kaila: get out more. Olive skin does not mean White. There are whites, blacks, hispanics and Indians with Olive skin. You can find olive skin, grey-eyes and black hair in all races. Hailee Steinfeld is Asian and white with Olive skin. Lennie Kravitz’s daughter is black/white with Olive skin.

        Apart from that Suzanne says Katniss was not a particular race and there was ethnic mixing during her time period so there shouldn’t be any real pure races. Oh and by the way Black/White mixed children also can be found with blonde hair and blue eyes. I’ve met a few. Genetics are wonderful.

      • KK

        Ok…I don’t understand this obsession with race. For the record. I am 100% Indian (from Asia). I find it silly to obsess over this matter so much…and if people start ranting to me about how the minorities are always ignored blah blah blah…my response is simply this…THE MAJORITY OF THE AUDIENCE WANTS A WHITE PERSON IN THE LEAD UNLESS IT’S WILL SMITH! Sad…I know…but it’s also true. These people are running a business (the producers)…and the Director is more concerned with the quality of the actor…which is why he chose Jennifer over Hailee (who is more along the lines of what everyone thought Katniss looked like). So please get over it and realize that even though we have Obama for a president…several of us don’t really RELATE to non-white characters in the Hollywood setting UNLESS it is a specifically ASIAN, OR BLACK OR SOUTH AMERICAN setting.

      • Anna

        @KK: you are an Indian (from Asia) who is programmed to only want Whites or light skinned people on the big screen. Don’t you have a caste system? That’s really sad and unAmerican. Besides you claim that the director just cares about the quality of the actor. If you just care about the quality, you would have open auditions with unknowns and actors of all races/ethnic groups so you don’t limit yourself. Auditioning for only 2 months and whites only means you end up with people like Josh and Liam. Look at how Harry Potter and True Grit opened up auditions to a broad field. We ended up with excellent actors for the roles. Both movies are quality productions. THG is not heading into a quality production when they start out with weak actors. There is even a rumor the director didn’t want Liam and was forced to take him because the studio wanted him but he wasn’t the best actor for the Gale part.

      • Kate

        @Anna

        Open auditions are a laborious process and only appropriate in certain situations. Lost of girls read the script and they have been trying to cast this movie for more than two months. People get agents because they are talented and that’s how they get the auditions. There is a whole process and system and to pretend you have more than a vague understanding of it is stupid. All three of the leads are relatively new and have had little chance to prove themselves. Your desire to prematurely judge them reflects poorly on you.

      • Shamain

        GUYS! Both Katniss, Gale and Peeta live in a COAL-MINING community. I think if she’s describing how the grime of coal dust is in everyone’s hair or fingers then I’m sure it must have an effect on the faces of the people living there.

      • Meng Ling

        For goodness sake, will you all please stop saying that Peeta was described as having olive-colored skin? That was Gale. GALE. If you’re going to complain about something, at least make sure you have the right person. Sheesh.

  • Jackie

    This was an excellent interview, and these two seem to work together incredibly well. Based on this, the movie sounds very promising. My only question is how they’re going to get away with a PG-13 rating (I’m assuming that’s what they’re going to aim for) with all of the violence in the story, particularly the bloodbath at the Cornucopia.

    • Anita Wu

      yes me too!! i got so excited while reading this interview. i can see how well they work together and i can see the great care they are taking with the movie and books. For a director and writer to click so well is rare so to see it happen with my all time favorite books, it’s so exciting!!! i really hope gary ross will continue directing the rest of the hunger games books!

  • Felix

    I do not care what the person who wrote the book and invented the characters and witnessed the actors auditioning and is working closely with the director thinks! I am a fan and cannot possibly be wrong, and I say HOW DARE THEY CAST SOMEONE WITH THE WRONG HAIR COLOR!

    • Pangma

      umm…you know they can always dye their hair.

      • Neil

        Umm, you know this post was meant to be sarcastic right? Oh wait, no you don’t.

      • The Odessey

        I do believe this person is being sarcastic.

      • The Odessey

        Whoops, I was a little late.

    • jsty

      lol

      • Patty

        This piece was cgonet, well-written, and pithy.

    • Crissy

      Be my friend forever! Haha I hate when people get all worked up by the hair smdh

    • Encore

      For your next performance, Felix, could you rip into the “fans” who are crying that they aren’t going to see the movie and its completely ruined for them because the lead males aren’t cute enough to meet their standards?
      I’ll wait, it should be good.

      • Felix

        You mean people can really be that shallow? You mean there are fans for whom story, acting, and characterization play second fiddle to some inane and extremely specific person fantasy featuring their personal crush? Wow, and these are the same fans who claim to be SO FAR ABOVE the Twilight crowd.

      • Encore

        I have a feeling, Felix, that those obsessed with looks rather than what’s important are the Twilight crowd. I hope those type of fans are so offended they don’t come to the Hunger Games when it comes out; let the rest of us enjoy what the story’s really about without listening to ridiculous “Team Peeta!” crap.

      • girly

        @ Encore
        I can’t even believe you used Team and Peeta i the same sentence. We didn’t say a thing about it, but you did. yeah, were the dumm twilight fans

      • jane

        you are smart @Encore! it is so true that people freak out over these types of things! besides i am sure they will make the characters plenty cute! people didnt think edward was cute at first!

    • KatieB

      Oh heavens, you think that the person who actually wrote the book doesn’t know what she’s doing? Get a grip.

      • Hope

        Two words: Stephanie Meyer (not only part of the first Twilight installments but also a producer of the fourth)

      • bacon

        i don’t get why people are so mad. Just let them do their stinking jobs already. It’s not our choice, just suck it up and get on w/ your life. anyways, they have ways into changing the appearances so just believe in their choices and move on!!!

      • jane

        true chiz!!!! i cannot believe there are positive fans! i cannot stand those fans who are freaking out because peeta is not “tall enough” stupid really!

    • Red

      Dude, it goes WAY BEYOND simple hair color. By her own admission, in the future, there is a lot of ‘ethnic mixing’. Yet the actors they bring in don’t even come CLOSE to matching their book descriptions. They specifically targeted White actors. Why not actors of ALL ethnicities?

      • Felix

        News flash: This is what Hollywood DOES. They cast whites unless the characters are described as some specific other ethnicity. Lord of the Rings took place on another world, yet no one complained about its all-white cast. Oh, and ethnicity has NOTHING TO DO with their casting choices. You’re assuming that just because they COULD cast a non-white actor, that means they’re OBLIGED to. That in itself is racist, for it assumes that non-whites need special privileges.

      • kimmy

        black hair dye and a serious spray tan is all it will take to match the physical description. honestly, i’d rather have a good actor who is blonde than a crappy one w/ dark hair.

      • dcmoviegirl

        Felix, you’re missing the point. The Lord of the Rings would never have had a casting callsheet which *only* called for for Asian actors, despite the books describing white features.

        But here, with the Hunger Games, they *specifically* called for white actors *only*, despite the books describing what could be people of mixed background.

        The exclusion before even being given the chance (in a field with so few real chances for a lead role for mixed actors), is the problem here.

      • Red

        @Felix, It’s not that I think they are ‘obliged’ to. It’s that I think they should make the effort to look beyond the ‘Caucasian or any other ethnicity’ label. Because that is what they DID.

    • Anita Wu

      you should go on facebook and see the debate there. most people are reacting just like collins said they are “the hair color is wrong!” like, omg, hair color is like the most important thing for like the characters. psh yeah right. i don’t really care about the ethnicities either because the color of our skin doesn’t define who we are and it won’t define them as actors.

      • Dim

        Thank goodness you’re not insane. Why should hair color be the standard right? I really don’t understand why everyone is freaking out, when the trailer hasn’t even come out! They haven’t even begun shooting and with all this hate, how do you think the cast will feel? Maybe if we show a little support, the effort the actors give will be great too! And do NOT go comparing this to Twilight. They’re two clearly different things. I never really thought that everything was kind of riding on Peeta’s and Katniss’ relationship, but I really don’t mind. I’m kind of a romantic at heart anyways. I was kind of worried when Josh was casted, but if he has the best and most comfortable chemistry with Jennifer, then I really won’t mind! Let the Hunger Games began!

      • Dawson

        Oh my gosh, finally someone who can see the light! Who really cares if they meet the exact description if they can act? Even then, they can easily die hair if that’s what everybody is freaking out about.

      • jane

        oh my gosh! finally someone who isn’t freaking out about this! besides suzanne collins isn’t an idiot, she knows what she is doing when she casted this film! this is going to be a GREAT movie!!!

      • Diana

        Sf3lo por curiosidad. A ver si da la ciadalausd de que mi pregunta es leedda.c9ste Chritopher Helpap es aleme1n, bfverdad?. Tiene toda la pinta, aunque alomejor me equivoco. Lo digo por el nombre y los rasgos

    • Peeta bread

      You are being a simpleton. No one cares about just hair color. Collins described specific characters with looks and behavior. Fans can reference these by going back to the books. Collins is telling them that what they read was all wrong and she really didn’t mean it. Either she is lying now to sell a movie or she doesn’t really believe in the characters she wrote and fans feel in love with. She is selling out, everyone does sooner or later. You think when she was writing her book Jennifer Lawrence was who she had in mind for Katniss, or Josh H. (urg) for Peeta, and Liam H. for Gale? IF so then I have beach front property to sell you in Alaska because you are one gullible simpleton. LOL.

      • District 12

        Get a life. For real. Everyone is entitled to an opinion, as are you, but come on. There’s no point to calling someone stupid …no matter how nicely you’re phrasing when a lot of the arguments I’ve seen you making are completely juvenile.

      • yaya

        so you fell in love with these characters based solely upon their appearance (skin color, hair color)? because you haven’t seen these actors in the role yet so how do you know they don’t represent the characters personalities.

      • Mr. Mellark

        I really think GR and SC could give a crap if you think it’s not in conjunction with what you imagined in YOUR head.

      • Anna

        @Peeta Bread: EXACTLY. They are just doing damage control because they KWNOW it’s sucky. They did casting in 2 months. TWO MONTHS. EVen though they have had the rights since 2009. These actors are not what Suzanne Collins would want but it’ what she has to work with. Making lemonade out of lemons. She should have sold her works to the Weinstein comapany, Sony or the Cohen brothers. They do quality. Lionsgate is a 3rd rate studio and only wants to make money.

    • 75Heahter

      Felix FTW!

  • Myra

    I don’t care about the looks of the chosen three. I know that can be changed. It’s just that I don’t think the casting was as extensive as HARRY POTTER’s and the Hunger games deserved no less. I’m pretty sure Josh and Jen are great actors but I believe they were their best options to choose among the LIMITED casting. Limited because in Katniss case was aimed to ONLY CAUCASIANS. This is the only Hunger games movie we are going to get so I wish they had casted not dozens nor hundreds but thousands of actresses preferably unknown even if that meant that the premier wouldn’t be until 2013. I believe that if the had dedicated more time and money to the casting process they could’ve pull off a cast that would be closer to the fans desires (never enough for us because that’s how we all fans are)

    I wish I could trust that Suzanne doing the right thing for her creation but Stehpanie Meyer was so involved in the twilight films and look how they turned out. I know I won’t see the premier. I’ll wait until I see the fans reactions to the movie before deciding if I’ll see it or not.

    • JC

      The Twilight books sucked, thus so did the movies.

      • Jimmy

        lol. agreed

      • Abbey

        Very true (:

    • Marcy

      I agree with you, Myra. I’m surprised that the casting search did not go beyond your “Hollywood” actors. There was no search in Europe or Canada or Australia for that perfect new discovery. Ross/Lionsgate should’ve taken notes from the Cohen brothers when they “discovered” Hailee Steinfeld for True Grit. The same goes for Peeta and Gale. There is talent out there and there are actors out there who were much better suited for the role, and yet we end up with Josh Hutcherson who is in almost every other YA film that’s coming out these days. They talk about him having a great audition – but seriously, how many actors did they really see? We’ve heard of the 5, and if there were 10 or 15 others, that just doesn’t seem like they really made much of an effort, did they?

      • Just no

        I agree Marcy,

        Josh was the best out of a weak field. That’s not saying much. In the interview they say that Katniss and Peeta didn’t have to be any particular ethnicity so why not open the casting to ALL ethnicities. Do a broad talent search from actors in other countries outside of the U.S. This is nothing but pathetic L.A.Z.Y. casting. You are telling me that there is NO good actor in all the U.S. who is medium height (over 5’9″), blonde with blue eyes? Or that there isn’t a Black actor out there that can do better than Josh? Lies, all lies and spin due to laziness and need for a cash-grab.

      • Hope

        So why they were so lazy about the casting? This could easily turn into another Golden Compass or Eragon!

      • Laura

        Josh was the best out of a weak field?? I’m sorry, but how can you state this as a fact? Do youknow how many peple they auditioned? Did you see their auditions to know if they were in fact, “weak”? Seriously, get over yourself. Just because you don’t like the choice does not mean it’s automatically incorrect.

      • Kaila

        I’m so sorry that their casting methods didn’t live up to your standards. Oh my you poor person.

      • KK

        @Just No —- I am also a minority in USA (if not in the world, considering there are over 1 billion of us, lol) being an Indian. However, you do not hear me constantly complaining about how more Indian actors don’t get big breaks in Hollywood. Seriously guys? We’re all getting sick of the race card being pulled for everything. There are times when that is justified. Here it really isn’t. This is a creative profession. Do you understand what that means??? I would support your lament had SC ever in the books clearly said Katniss was half black and half white – which she never did! If they cast Rue as some white chick – i would be pissed off as hell because that would be blatantly unfair! However, that is not the case here – SO LET IT GO!!!!

      • Anna

        @Laura: they only auditioned from late January until March, and Whites only. It wasn’t an open casting call. So yes, we can say that this wasn’t casting of the best of the best. In order to do that you have to open up casting to unknowns and a broad field. That’s how they ended with the cast of True Grit, Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings. All quality movies. Narrowing the casting leads to movies like ‘The Last Airbender’.

        @KK : please stop with your Indian American caste system/anti-colored people racism. We are saying they should have gotten the BEST out of a BROAD amount of applicants not narrowed the field to only minorities or only Whites or only well known/select few actors.

      • cec

        @Anna: What is your problem? It’s one movie about one book, and if it sucks, well, then it sucks. Get on with your life. But don’t judge the actors until you’ve seen them act. And please stop hating on everyone who disagrees with you.

      • jane

        that post was really unintelligent! @Marcy, seriously i mean come on! who would want to travel around the world to find someone who might not be good for the role! and what do you think the fans would say about that, certainly nothing positive!

      • jenn

        So many of you sound like bitter, sub par actors who are jelous that YOU didn’t get an audition for these roles. Grow up! The person that CREATED these characters chose the actors to portray them. They should be who she chooses and no one else should be able to criticize who she thinks best fits the characters that she created.

    • Kaila

      Uhm the casting has gone on for a long time. Even longer than they would say. Sooo…you’re stuid.

      • Anna

        No casting was done only this year. I am in the industry and check out the auditioning sites. There was no Open and broad auditions for these movies. For a quality production, you need like 6 months open auditions and a movie like this requires that you check out unknowns.

      • TJ

        oh, no casting started in January.They said so

      • HG on HGH

        Actually, they announced like last year at the end of summer that they were looking at actors, just not auditioning. So, yeah.

      • Yoshiko

        Yeah, this book seems like the main idea is acheving your drmeas, but I also think it has something to go with team work because whenever Katniss was working together with people they always acheived, just like in the last book. (They get rid of the capital). Also Katniss always seemed kind of sad and pathetic without Peeta.

    • TJ

      I honestly think that they should of had it opened, and searched around the US. If I was the author, and my book was going to be a movie, I would only want the best, so I’d try Canada, and Mexico, if I could. You only get the best when you give the best a chance, and sometimes, the best are not the ones with the awards

      • Jenaya

        Articles like this are an example of quick, hlefupl answers.

  • lalaland

    OMG!! I am officially relieved of my earliar frustrations!! now I can’t wait!!! it’s awesome that Suzanne will be a big part of behind the scenes!!!

  • Myra

    Oh by the way, I’m alright with Jennifer playing Katniss, what I don’t think I can’t accept is Josh playing Peeta. He’s shorter than Jennifer and he kinda looks younger. They were supposed to look like a romance that everyone in the capitol would love and obssess. I don’t feel attracted to Josh and I don’t see his charisma and I don’t think he will look right next to Jennifer. No matter how much Suzanne was pleased with Josh. I still won’t find this guy charming enought to sell me the romance. I know Peeta is not supposed to be a stud but still he was supposed to be charismatic.

    • Jose

      Wah wah wah Team Jacob.

      • District12

        Don’t you just want to smack fans who say and write “Team Peeta” and “Team Gale”?

    • shar

      Josh and Jen are both 5’7”. Also, I think you should watch some interviews with Josh. I think he seems pretty charismatic in them.

      • Just no

        I agree with Myra. Who cares how he is in interviews? It’s acting in front of the camera that matters. I have watched all of Josh’s movies and they boy has no charisma. He is forgettable. And 5’7″ is not medium height that’s short for a boy. Even if he is the same height as Jennifer, he has a baby face. If Jennifer wears heels for her t.v. interview as Katniss, she will be towering over “baby-face” Josh and look like his baby sitter. Can you imagine those two in the cave? It will be like she is molesting a little boy. At least she and Liam look like believable lovers. Everyone is going to turn from team Peeta to Team Gale with this movie.

      • Kate

        Actually, it’s a movie so she won’t be towering over him. It’s all about angles, but Josh won’t look short at all. And, I might add that Peeta is supposed to be stocky and Gale is supposed to be the tall one. And you have no idea if Jennifer and Josh have chemistry so how can you predict what their relationship will look like on screen.

    • Rachel

      I agree with you Myra!

      • Snow

        Ya learn something new erveyday. It’s true I guess!

    • Abby

      I completely agree with you Myra. It’s sort of shallow to say, but it’s just how i feel. I am so in love with the character of Peeta in the books, and i was hoping to be able to fall in love with the way he is portrayed on screen too. And I just don’t find Josh all that acttractive, so it just kind of kills the whole vibe for me. I don’t need an Armani underwear model to play Peeta, but I was at least hoping for a Peeta that I find somewhat cute.
      I’m concerned about not being able to get really into the Peeta/Katniss romance in the film.

    • Neil

      I was surprised after seeing The Kids Are Alright to learn that Hutcherson is still a teenager. IMO he looks pretty mature for 18 or whatever he is — I assumed he was 20-something playing younger.

      • Celia

        Myra, I have to point out, being the grammar Nazi that I am, that you said “I don’t think I can’t accept is Josh playing Peeta”. I think you meant to say “I don’t tihnk I can accept”. Unless you’re just trying to be clever, in which case you failed.

      • Myra

        I don’t think I can accept Josh playing peeta.

        Spelling too!

        I won’t find this guy charming enough

        I didn’t check my spelling nor my grammar but at least I voiced a lot of fans that are dissapointed.

    • L

      Actually, Josh Hutcherson looks way more like the Peeta in my mind than Hunter Parish (or any of the others) did. Peeta, to me, has a wide, maybe even boyish face. His innocence has to be believed by everyone- that’s what makes people trust him. Because he is good-hearted and …I guess “pure” is the best word I can come up with for what I’m thinking. I think Josh will be good for Peeta. He is only supposed to be medium height, and stocky, which Josh seems to be. Gale is supposed to be the devastatingly handsome one, right? The one that all the girls in District 12 fantasize about?

      • hailey steinheart

        fans fell in love with peeta for his personality AND his looks.i think people pictured Peeta to be quite cute. some fans (well, a LOT of fans..) aren’t happy with the visuals Josh brings to the character. And it’s hard to get excited about the romantic aspect of this movie if you don’t think the actors are very attractive. So, of course acting is very important, but having the right look IS important if you want fans to enjoy the movies as much as they enjoyed the books

      • Peeta bread

        Josh is 5’7″ that’s not medium height for boys, they call that s.h.o.r.t. Peeta had a look of innocent but he was charming, somewhat attractive and his chemistry with Katniss set the entire capitol on flames. Josh H. doesn’t fit any of those description except for the innocent part. No way is it believable that Jennifer L. and Josh H. look like they are a couple let alone will have audiences cheering for them. They will be cheering for Katniss to dump her little brother and get with Liam H.’s Gale. Josh is only a male romantic lead for 12 year old girls.

      • Chelsea

        Totally agree, besides, I think Josh is plenty attractive and charming. The narrow-minded tweens posting here are ridiculous. (I say tweens, because if not, seriously, GROW THE HELL UP people!) SC gives her blessing, that should be enough for anyone with a brain in their head.

      • Kaila

        I agree with you….but I hope stupid fans don’t turn this into a twilight thing.
        Please, no.

    • Jeanne

      Good thing this isn’t a love story so it doesn’t matter…

      • District12

        Yeah, I you’d think that would be obvious to anyone who’s read the book, but apparently not.

      • District12

        Cut that “I” out of that sentence.
        Ooh, now I’m getting more into the spirit of the Hunger Games…

    • Anita Wu

      his looks aren’t the thing that made him charming myra. it was peeta’s ability to connect and use his words to draw people to him. don’t judge them before seeing them act. you can have doubts but don’t stomp your feet down in disagreement so quickly

      • District12

        Well said, Anita.

      • Myra

        When I ever say anything about his looks?

        I’m talkinga about how he is not charming enough for peeta. Peeta was supposed to be an average looking guy but at the sametime he was handsome enough and charming enough to make the capitol people and Caesar Flickerman charmed. Josh is an ok actor NOT GREAT ACTOR for what I’ve seen from him but he is not charming enough for me and apparently a lot of people agree with me. Peeta is a very beloved character. You weren’t going to find Peeta in such a lazy casting. And don’t start with me as though I was a teenager looking for a hearthrob to portray Peeta. I don’t care about their looks as much as I care that when an actor is announced to be the chosen one is because the people in charge really really sought for the best option because they really want to make a good work. I hope that they are not as lazy with other aspects of the production as they were with the casting. If anything I don’t understand why the deadline for march 2012. Take your time but make the right movie.

    • JML

      Josh is NOT shorter than Jen the are the SAME height. Look it up!

      And they cast Kristen Stewart because she looked like Bella was described and she can’t act her way out of a paper bag. I’ll take talented actors over looks any day….

      • RamonaFlowers

        THANK YOU!

      • alie

        amen.

  • shar

    This makes me so much more excited to see the family. Honestly, I’ve accepted the casting and I’m not going to judge the actors until I see their performance in the movie. I think it’s much more important that that the actors embody the characters well than how closely their appearances match the character descriptions.

  • Heather

    Great interview, it is so nice to hear a book writer get so involved with the film production and be so excited! I can’t wait to see the movies.

  • Liz Lemon

    EW is reporting on it too much. I’m starting to get tired of it already.

    • Caro

      So true.

    • Nate

      As long it keeps bringing in traffic to the site then EW will report on this movie as much as possible. Just be happy they are moving on from Twilight and others…

  • Amanda

    You people are so stupid; what did you think they will tell? After all they have a movie to sell and to create hype.

    • Rachel

      So true!

      • Mohd

        The Hunger Games is an action pact novel that sucks you into the book and doesn’t let you out until you fsiinh. Although this books has many tawdry lines that took away from this read it was still a great book. In this book there is a girl named Katniss who battles her way threw the hunger games.brilliantly plotted and perfectly paced…a futuristic novel every bit as good and as allegorically rich as Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies books…the considerable strength of the novel comes in Collins’s convincingly detailed world-building and her memorably complex and fascinating heroine. In fact, by not calling attention to itself, the text disappears in the way a good font does: nothing stands between Katniss and the reader, between Panem and America. This makes for an exhilarating narrative and a future we can fear and believe in, but it also allows us to see the similarities between Katniss’s world and ours.This book was a great read and I’m so happy I read it.

    • Neil

      So, you think they cast actors they don’t want, and are now lying about it?

    • Logen

      How about you stop insulting other fans, sweetheart?

      • Lehlohonolo

        That’s ok..no, we’re not having a Pinheads fuaednisrr .do you have to go there? If u r, then which one? I could ask my wait, ur mom hates me, so i wont go. No, no one I know made Student Council. My BF Kate tried out but she’s a runner up. Did you make student council again? If so,then GO GIRL :3. I might get an ipad, but other than that, i dont even have a phone.

  • Mel.

    I’m still not convinced about Josh. I’m sure now based on Suzanne and Gary’s conversation that he will be able to ACT as Peeta well, but he’s never going to be able to LOOK like the Peeta I’ve imagined, and loved. Even if they change his hair color, I’ve seen many pictures of Josh and he just doesn’t have those big expressive eyes, and warm, winning smile that I’ve always pictured Peeta to have. And I just don’t think he’s that cute to be a romantic lead… So it’s going to be a bit depressing for me to not be be able to be that satisfied with the visual representation of Peeta on screen. But at least he can act.
    Anyways, It’s Suzanne’s book, so ultimately it’s her choice. I wonder though, did she only get to see Josh’s audition? Or did she get to see some of the other actors too? Because they make it sound like Josh had no competition, which I can’t believe to be true, because I’m sure a lot of other actors would have been able to do a great Peeta as well..

    I’m a little concerned that she jumped on hiring Josh before she had even really had a good look at some of the other actors

    So I’m slightly more accepting of Josh as Peeta now, but only slightly. I know appearance isn’t everything, but for movies acting isn’t everything either. I wish they had made a better compromise between the two

    • Taylor V.

      I agree. I think with movies based on books, you want the acting/appearance ratio to be at least 50/50. The actor should be able to act the part, and look somewhat the part. If you can get a actor 100% right for the part acting wise, and 100% right appearance wise, then that would be perfect. It seems like Josh was only chosen for his acting skills for Peeta, and looks wern’t taken into account at all. I don’t think that is good, because fans fell in love with the way Peeta looked too, not just his personality. People were really excited to see what Peeta would look like in the movie, and this casting is leaving a lot of fans dissaponted, and less enthusiastic. I still can’t help but feel that this casting was a mistake. And yeah, hair dye isn’t going to magically make him look like Peeta..

    • Just no

      Mel,
      it sounds like Josh was the best of a weak field. So they were just happy that he was good. They didn’t do a wide search to discover a big pool of really good, talented actors. They didn’t want to do the work.

      • Ella

        Agree with this, Josh is just wrong in look and height, sans hair dye and color contacts. Also did you notice they did not say a peep about how “amazing” Liam Hemsworth was? What a bunch of sell outs, I’m so disgusted by all this.

      • Marie

        Says who? Were you there? Did you see who came in, who left? Do you even understand how many young actors there are in Hollywood?

        Josh was cast because he was the best, full stop. That is the only thing we can both say and still be truthful, though honestly, based on how close to shooting it is, I think they took a lot of time and care in casting. The average movie does not do a global casting call, and it’s laughable that some of the fans in these comments would discredit the film for not doing it.

        (Though the really hilarious thing is, the movie will come out and all the people hating on Josh will become his biggest fans. It’s happened time and time again with these adaptations.)

      • Heynes

        Marie, I’ve been watching Josh act for years, if i was going to become a big Josh Hutcherson fan girl, i would have been one by now. I don’t dislike Josh, but i don’t really care for him all that much either. I know what he’s like, and how he acts, and how he is in interviews, and i think he’s a decent dude, but i just don’t think he’s the best choice for Peeta. Peeta’s super likable, and i just don’t like Josh that much. Obviously Suzanna and Gary love him, but i think most of the book fans base doesn’t feel any “love” for Josh at all… If they can manage to make me like him as Peeta in the movie, then they’ve pulled off a miracle.

    • Adam

      I love Cinna because he was the frist poesrn that Katniss trusted at the Capitol. He never juged her and was always there to put his arm around her or to push up her chin to make her feel better about her self. Also he was in a way diffrent from all the rest of the capitol people. He never tried hard to inpress people by the way he acted or looked and just been himslef. I also love how Cinna made katniss shine and gave her the name the girl on fire . Fire is radient and can sometimes be to powerful or can loss controll just like Katniss.

  • Stephanie Diaz

    As a writer myself, I think it’s really incredible how much Suzanne is being able to have input in the filmmaking process. It’s hard to watch your own characters get put in someone else’s hands, and the fact that she and Gary are working together to make this movie fit both their visions of the book makes me incredibly pleased and excited. I can’t wait to see what they and Jennifer and Josh and Liam have in store for us!

    • DarkPassenger

      Same here, Stephanie.

  • marie j

    Well… at least they’re good actors! Kinda dissapointed about “Peeta” but… whatever.. this movie will be great!

  • RachieJ

    Awesome! I’m so glad Suzanne is involved in the creative process. I think we’ve got a great film to look forward to.

  • jsty

    After hearing so much negativity and whiny people, this interview puts my mind at ease and gets me all pumped again. THANK YOU.

    • Crissy

      I agree!

      • Lenna

        Gosh, I wish I would have had that information elarier!

    • Red

      Except… she doesn’t really answer the question.

      • Caro

        She doesn’t sound too sure of the ethnicity of her protagonists.

      • kd

        who says she has to be sure of their ethnicity? it’s not relevant to the story.

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