At a recent press junket for The Hunger Games, Collider interviewed Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth about their roles as Peeta and Gale.
Liam, how is it to play a role where you’re going to have much more to do, if there’s a sequel?
HEMSWORTH: Yeah, at this point, I’m very happy to be a part of something so special. As an actor, I choose scripts that I’m passionate about and that I think are interesting.
Did you read all of the books, so that you could have a better sense of the character?
HEMSWORTH: I did, yeah. I read all the books before I met with anyone about the movie, and I became a fan of the books.
Josh, what was it like to play a character where you’re not entirely sure how much he’s telling the truth and how much he’s playing to an audience?
HUTCHERSON: It’s interesting because, in the book, you have Katniss’ internal dialogue to help you understand that she’s confused about Peeta, but in the movie, you don’t have that element. You really have to rely on how the scenes are structured, the dialogue and the other performances. When watching the movie, I felt like I was right along with Katniss, the whole time, as a viewer. In my opinion, it came from how it was edited together. It didn’t show a whole lot of Peeta. It only showed the interactions between Katniss and Peeta together, so that’s all you had to go on. So, the moment where you see him with the Tributes, running in the forest, where Peeta is part of the Careers, you’re like, “What the hell is going on? This is not what I thought was going to happen.” For me, it was really done, a lot, with the structure of the film.
Was it challenging to strike a balance between making Peeta grounded, but still well motivated?
HUTCHERSON: Yeah, I think that came with his self-deprecating humor. Those that become holier than thou typically don’t try to be funny, and they take themselves too seriously, a lot of the time. Peeta doesn’t take himself too seriously. He’s like, “This is what I believe in. That’s just who I am, as a person. I’m comfortable with that, and I can make a joke, here and there.” That’s where it can become too much, in my opinion. …
Twenty years ago, Katniss would have probably been a male character, and the two male characters would have been girls. How do you feel about that shift?
HEMSWORTH: I think it’s great. I think that’s a big part of the appeal of this book, as well. You have a courageous, strong, young woman, who is doing unbelievable things. I’m all for it. I think it’s great.
HUTCHERSON: And, Jennifer [Lawrence] is perfect for this role. She’s such an amazing actress, and she’s such a strong person. Having a character that is that powerful, as a woman, is just amazing.
What did each of you personally take away from the experience of making this movie?
HEMSWORTH: Every job I do, I learn more. To be able to work with an actress like Jennifer [Lawrence] and a director like Gary [Ross], I’ve learned more again. Every job, I’m learning more. I’m very thankful to be where I am, and to be working and busy.
HUTCHERSON: Every experience on this film was so much fun. For me, it’s great to see a movie that has such an intense subject and an intense dramatic storyline that can still be done in a fun way. We had such a good time on set. Working with amazing people, you continue to learn and develop yourself, as an actor and as a person. As much as I learned about myself as an actor, I learned even more as a person, just working with great people, like Jennifer [Lawrence] and Woody [Harrelson] and Lenny [Kravitz], and everybody. They were just really good human beings. It was just a great experience.
You can read the entire interview at Collider.