ET: Behind the Scenes of ‘Hunger Games’ Filming (Etc.!)

The Hunger Games movie premiere is tonight in Los Angeles, believe it or not; Check out the live Red Carpet action on MTV, the Capitol’s main line to the heartland of Panem! Any bets that the three principal players show up dressed for a District 12 Reaping? They should, though, right?

Continuing with our ‘Hunger Games Month’ coverage of the run-up to the first movie’s general release for us out in the Districts on 23 March, below are film clips from Entertainment Tonight about the making of the film. We’ll be talking about the expanded role for Seneca Crane in the first part of the story soon; please feel free to check in with your thoughts on that subject or others in the comment space provided below! Surprise about Sutherland and Seneca after the jump …

Film Director Gary Ross Interview notes:

On Working with Suzanne Collins:

SFX: You’ve done the book-to-screen process before with Seabiscuit but how different an animal was The Hunger Games?

Gary Ross: “I have a much closer relationship with Suzanne (Collins) than I had with [Seabiscuit author] Laura Hillenbrand. In fact, Suzanne and I wrote the last pass of the screenplay together.”

Passionate fans sometimes forget that you can’t do a literal book translation for film, so did you feel the pressure of knowing your screenplay was going to disappoint some purist readers?

Gary Ross: “First of all, I’m a fan, so pleasing myself is half the battle. Obviously the fact that Suzanne loved it instilled in me that I had been properly calibrated [Did he mean collaborated? Did he mean anything?…] and my tonal sense of the material was coming through. In terms of pressure, I don’t know. I felt an excitement and opportunity to dive into something that I love. Anytime you write or direct anything you are also the audience or the reader. You want to give them the same thrill you had when you first read the book.”

The media is really pushing this as the successor to the Twilight films, which doesn’t really compute if you’ve read the books. However, did the studio want you to lean more on the Katniss/Peeta/Gale triangle more to capture that audience?

Gary Ross: “I think it’s a very accurate depiction of the book and I don’t think there’s anything that is really different from the book in that sense. Katniss has a very close relationship with Gale and she has an evolving one of trust with Peeta and that’s what we tried to do in the film as it was done in the book.”

Did Suzanne Collins have much input on the design of the film?

Gary Ross: “I talked to Suzanne all the way through the design process. I showed her designs of interiors and sets, but that was much more so in the prep because when you start shooting a lot of that stuff has been determined. I wanted her opinion because it was cool and fun to talk about.”

I’d like to hear Suzanne Collins thought of this process. It sounds like he had a “cool and fun” time but didn’t let any of her thinking get in the way of his priority: “pleasing myself.” As in being sure to include the back story as envisioned by an actor who read the book… Was he a collaborator or just calibrated to get a writing credit?

On the Insights of Donald Sutherland:

For President Snow, was Donald Sutherland always a first choice? He’s done villains so well in so many styles – what did he bring to this character?

Gary Ross: “Donald had actually read it and wrote me a letter that was so compelling saying, ‘Listen, I’ve read this series and I’m really interested. Here is who I think President Snow is…’ The minute I read the letter it was very clear that he was right. He understood what he meant in the piece. He understood where the nature of power comes from and he understood how pernicious that power was and how President Snow used that power. He gave me a glimpse into that side of the world that was more vivid than anything that I had seen. In fact Donald wrote me such a compelling backstory to his character that I ended up incorporating some of those ideas into a couple of scenes that I added for him which are still in the movie and I think are very good.”

As in a scene featuring Snow’s interaction with Seneca Crane, the Gamesmaker who is invisible in the book version of the series opening? I wonder how “cool and fun” Miss Collins thought that this atextual addition was… More on Seneca Crane’s outsized role this week!


  1. Can’t wait. Thanks so much for sharing. That bit on Sutherland was really insightful.

  2. Mary Ellen says

    Interesting about the expanded roles for Seneca Crane & Snow. The clips I’ve seen of Wes Bentley as Crane are very impressive. Did you see the scene with Katness shooting the apple out of the pig’s mouth? I noticed that no one seemed to fall into any punch bowls — do you think they are planning on cutting Plutarch Heavensbee as they did Madge? From a cinematic storytelling standpoint, I think having Bentley play a composite role as the Machiavellian gamesmaker/District 13 spy/propo producer for the whole series might be a good move.

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