One of the things that was important for "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" was the casting of the new supporting players, and in particular, the tributes would would be returning to battle in the Quarter Quell.
Sam Claflin has been in several fairly big movies over the last few years, including a starring role in "Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides." That was a thankless role, and it didn't help that the film was such a nightmare of tonal misfires. It was certainly no showcase for a younger actor trying to make an initial impression on an audience. Jena Malone, on the other hand, has been a hard-working actor for years now, and despite still being fairly young, there is a sort of battle-hardened quality to her in real life. Malone strikes me as someone who has seen a lot and who has fought to define how she wants to work in this industry, refusing to let anyone else define her. I've interviewed her before, and on the "Sucker Punch" set, we got to speak at length about her career and her goals as a performer.
Both of them make very strong showings in "Catching Fire." For Claflin, it's a chance to showcase the mix of charisma and vulnerability that gets him cast in movies, with a piece of writing that finally gives him a chance to demonstrate some range and some depth. For Malone, it's an edgy role that she attacks like a starving person handed a plate of hamburgers. There's a raw animal energy about her portrayal of Johanna that really works.
They had to seamlessly integrate themselves into what was already a fairly sizable ensemble, and two of the returning cast members from the first film also got a chance to stretch with their characters, which makes sense. In the first film, both Effie and Cinna are part of the system, firmly entrenched in the Capitol and the way things work. Now, they've become firmly entrenched, and they are determined to help Katniss and foster the rising rebellion, and it's obvious that they know what the personal costs are going to be, and they're willing to pay them.
All four actors were great to chat with, and I'm glad we'll be checking in with all of them when "Mockingjay Part 1" arrives in theaters.
For now, "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" hits theaters tomorrow.