Vanity Fair continues its series of interviews on The Hunger Games – this time with director Gary Ross.
He talked to the magazine’s West Coast editor, Krista Smith about his vision for the movie, working with Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson as well as collaborating with author Suzanne Collins.
Here’s some of what he had to say:
And what’s been the best part so far?
You rarely get a tentpole that has this much emotional depth, this much character to dive into. The character of Katniss is . . . incredible. Suzanne [Collins, the author of the books,] did such an amazing job, and painted such a vivid character that I think for me and Jen. . . . It was just exciting every day. Not just from a pure filmmaking perspective, but also just in terms of the depth of the acting and exploring the character.
How did you get Jennifer to play Katniss?
I was just a fan. When you do what I do, any time you see an actor like this emerge—I think everybody’s head sort of snapped, you know? Both from Winter’s Bone and other work that she’s done, I was just always very aware of her. And then I had a meeting with her, and I was just as impressed, and then she came in and read for us and she sort of blew me away. But I wasn’t totally surprised, because I think that an actor like this comes along, you know, once a generation.
You also have Josh Hutcherson in the part of Peeta.
He kind of reminds me of a young Jack Lemmon. There’s this incredible versatility to him; he’s wise beyond his years, he’s sort of mature beyond his years, and there’s just such a natural ease to his acting. He’s so comfortable.
You’ve been nominated for four Oscars—is there a different kind of thing when you go in and you take on this kind of—
Piece of pop culture?
Well, it’s really just a responsibility to the material. First and foremost, my responsibility is to Suzanne and the readers to give them the same experience they had when they read the book. Or two, even if it’s not the same experience, to sort of give them the same visceral sense they had when they read the book. I’m a fan of the books, so my expectations are just as high as everyone else’s—I loved the material so much that I wanted to do it justice. So it isn’t really that strange, because you want to live up to what the potential of the book is. And I felt the same thing with Seabiscuit. That’s really the biggest expectation.
So in terms of what it is in the culture and everything, is there pressure? No more pressure than I put on myself to live up to what Suzanne has done.
Was she on set for all of it?
Yeah, she came down to the set, but we also collaborated on the last draft together. I wrote a draft, and then Suzanne and I got along incredibly well, and did another subsequent draft, the final draft together. She’s wonderful.
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