Welcome to Cast Countdown with Hamilton. Fair warning, just in case you have not yet read the books, there may be spoilers here. Today’s featured cast member is Sam Claflin.
Sam Claflin as Finnick Odair
About Finnick Odair: At the young age of 14, Finnick became the victor of the 65th Games. He became a favorite of the Capitol and gained a reputation of having many lovers of all types whenever he was visiting for another Hunger Games. Though he appears to be the ultimate playboy, his life is quite dark and is more or less owned by President Snow. During the third Quarter Quell, he is instrumental in the survival of both Katniss and Peeta, though Katniss is never sure whether she can trust him or if he is playing her to his own ends. Coming from District 4, he is more at home in the water than on land. He’s deadly with a trident and an expert at tying knots. He has looks and charm that captivate nearly anyone he’s around, but has a secret and troubled personal life. He’s 24 years old at the time he meets Katniss and is described as being “tall, muscular, and athletic, with tan skin, bronze-colored hair, and ‘incredible’ sea green eyes.” You can read more about him in Kelsey’s Character Profile.
About Sam Claflin: At 26 years old, Claflin is a little older than Finnick, but with Jennifer Lawrence being five years older than her screen counterpart, it’s important to keep the ratio believable. At just under six feet, he’s not towering, but tall enough to be considered tall, and has a thin frame that could easily be “muscular” and “athletic.” His eye color happens to be green, but as all Hunger Games fans know, eye color consistency has not been a hugely important component of the casting of these films. He has not been on the acting scene for very long – starting off on television in 2010 before landing the key part in the latest Pirates of the Caribbean as a captive missionary in love with an imprisoned mermaid in 2011. This year he appeared alongside Kristen Stewart and the slightly more famous Hemsworth brother in Snow White and the Huntsman.
There have been few movie characters whose casting decisions have been so intensely debated. Because he is described as being instantly attractive, and everyone has a different idea of what that means to them. His physical description too, while more specific than many of Collins’ characters, is ambiguous. “Tan skin” could be seen as anything from the darker skin of someone from the Pacific islands, Hawaii, Africa, and beyond, to a white Californian who spends all day on the beach. I won’t even get into the debate over what constitutes “bronze” hair. Suffice to say, no matter who got the part, there were going to be plenty of people disappointed because he didn’t fit their mental image. Personally, I pictured Chris Hemsworth, with his Thor-length hair, big arms, and patented swagger. Leave him to bake in the sun for a few days and you have Poseidon – who I always imagined Finnick being inspired by. Maybe it’s his affinity for the trident. Claflin seems a little on the scrawny to me, at least in some pictures, though we all know that with dedication that can always change. Just think about the various sizes Christian Bale has been over his career. And really, most 24 year olds are still on the scrawny side, even if they are fit and athletic. He has the boyish charm, but from what I’ve seen of him in Pirates, he’s missing that raw attractiveness that Finnick is described as having. Maybe he has more of it in Snow White. Ladies, this is where you chime in and tell me if I’m hitting the mark or not – I’m not exactly the most qualified to be judging the attractiveness of men. Does he have the Finnick Factor?
Whether he has the looks or not, he does have the “from the sea” quality needed. Despite being the non-seafarer in Pirates, he still fit in well with the rest of the cast and had that saltiness about him. He also had a complicated love story going on, one that involved some interesting issues of trust. A relatively new actor, he’s something of an unproven entity. His physical appearance stacks up well enough, and he’s shown that he can act, but he hasn’t really had the chance to make the spotlight shine on him whenever he’s on screen, something that Finnick needs to have happen. If he can do that, he can pull off the character, if not, then Finnick Odair will end up being a bit bland.
He’s probably the most important new character, and Claflin is probably the most up-in-the-air of the new actors. There’s not much to judge him on yet. I see potential, but there hasn’t been anything to assure me that potential will be fulfilled. I’m hoping that he seizes this chance to break out and shine. We will see in 2013.
A great collection of Claflin scenes from Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. Be warned – this video is full of spoilers for that movie.
Sam Claflin on Twitter