Film & TV, The Muse

Feeding A Hungry Fad: A Pithy Chat with “Hunger Games” Star Liam Hemsworth

Photo courtesy of Lionsgate

Fads are as intrinsic to adolescence as acne. Unbridled imagination, desires for escapism and romance and unchecked spending provide the perfect formula to recruit disciples to the gospel of vogue.

Adults, who often forget their own teenage pasts, have always found fads vacuous. And while the hormonally fueled hype of The Beatles proved deserving in the vibrancy of their resulting catalogue, fears have arisen over the 21st century teenage affinity for vampires, transformers and dispassionate acting.

Liam Hemsworth, 22, irrevocably trapped in teenager-dom by his steady relationship with Miley Cyrus, feels otherwise. Hemsworth stars as Gale in the adaptation of the latest teenage obsession, The Hunger Games, whose premiere on Friday is scheduled to incite mania.

For the few isolated from the frenzy: The Hunger Games is part one of fantastical trilogy written by Suzanne Collins set in Panem, a prediction of the dystopian future of North America. In Panem, the totalitarian Capital holds an annual competition, the Hunger Games, for which 24 tributes, aged 12-18, fight to the death in televised carnage that all humans are forced to watch.

While a man of few words in our recent interview, Hemsworth appears armed to combat critics salivating to brand The Hunger Games as the same cinematic failure that mars the Twilight series. Hemsworth called The Hunger Games one of the “most powerful films [he’s] seen . . . ever.”

Q: The Hunger Games is filled with some really heavy material, but it still appeals to younger audiences. How does the film walk this line and how did you achieve that duality on set?

LH: The thing about the books and the movie, and the movie is very similar to the books, [is that] violence in it is not glorified in any way. These children are caught in a horrible situation…they don’t want to kill. The people in these districts don’t want to watch, it’s not entertainment for them, they have family and friends in it that are probably not going to come home. It’s not glorified in any way.

Q: Do you connect with the relationship between Gale and Katniss?

LH: For Gale and Katniss, it’s not really a romantic thing at this stage. They’ve grown up together, they’re best friends. [Gale is] watching his best friend go into battle and probably not come back. There’s not a real romance there yet, I don’t think either of them think it’s romantic. And then of course, there’s Peeta and Katniss, which . . . I think she’s a little confused [about]. She was just playing the game and it bothered her that she may actually feel something for him. So it’s a little bit confusing at this point – and it develops over the story and it gets more confusing – but it’s not the central theme behind the books.

Q: How does your role in The Hunger Games differ from roles you’ve played in the past?

LH: Every one of my roles is very different. I think, as an actor, I always show something of myself in my role because they’re the kind of emotions you draw on for different characters. But for Gale, he’s a very strong character and he’s caught in a whole situation and he’s kind of an extraordinary young person. He, like Katniss, is providing for a whole family and you know, he’s really powerless to do anything at this point. But what I love about him is that he does stay true to himself through the books and he does want to fight back and he doesn’t want to part of the Games anyway which is why he refuses to watch.

Q: Did you draw on material like the film Battle Royale when you were performing in The Hunger Games?

LH: I’ve actually never seen Battle Royale. I tried to cue to pretty much in on this book and this script.

Q: How are you feeling about the pressure to live up to the expectations of the readers of this series?

LH: It’s nerve-racking and exciting at the same time. Going into it, it was already big at that time, but it was nowhere near as big as it is now and it seems to keep growing more and more. And I’m very proud of the film. I saw it for the first time last week and it’s one of the most powerful films I’ve seen ever and at the same time, there is pressure, but I am very proud of it and I think audiences will really enjoy it.

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