Hunger Games Movie News: Entertainment Weekly Article, Filming Starts Here in NC, and We Have a Cinna

Last week, we posted on the Entertainment Weekly cover that gave us our first peek at Jennifer Lawrence. This week, we’ll poke around in that article to see how the Game is being played, on multiple levels. We also have an update on the filming taking place just down the road from this Professor’s office. And, of course, we have some thoughts on the casting news this week, in particular the announcement that Cinna will be played by musician and actor Lenny Kravitz. Let’s face it, if we have any more exciting announcements in this post, we need trumpets, and I’m changing my name to Claudius Templesmith.

First off, this week’s Entertainment Weekly story is really quite fascinating.  From the images of Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss (which are much nicer in the print version than online; the tan looks genuine, and her freckles are visible.  The caption says the exterior shots were done in NC, but I swear, this looks like a greenery-decked soundstage; I suspect Plutarch Heavensbee is behind one of these trees), to the run-down of the cast at the time of publication, to the great insights from Lawrence and folks behind the camera, it’s an engaging piece that actually bodes well for the book’s journey to the screen.  Lawrence comes across, whether by crafty design or happy accident, as a girl who really knows what it’s like to be in Katniss’s shoes (the uncomfortable pointy ones Effie makes her wear).  Her description of being prepped for her red carpet appearances sounds like all she needed were flames and a chariot to really feel the part of our District 12 Tribute. She also shares her feelings about the book, and her desire to “get it right” because she felt so strongly about the story. This commitment to the text is exciting.  Much can be forgiven of an actor, in my opinion, if he or she truly respects the story that is clearly so meaningful to legions of readers.  Lawrence also wants to make sure that Katniss doesn’t come across as a super-cool killing machine (we have the Careers for that, right?).  All in all, a really nice peek into the thoughts and preparations of Lawrence, who seems to be working hard, both mentally and physically (including a very Katniss-like moment in archery training), to convey the Girl on Fire.

But for me, the solid gold moment in the article is  producer Nina Jacobsen’s comment: “I felt very protective of the book…and felt there was a version of the movie that could be made that would in fact be sort of guilty of all the sins of the Capitol”; Jacobsen gets it. She knows she’s a Gamemaker, but she also knows that this is a media spectacle presenting the evils of media spectacles.  Her quotation has gotten me more excited than anything else about the film’s prospects as a treatment of the novel.

Speaking of excited, my friend (and friend of this blog) Jay, who will be sharing his experiences as he can, began his extra work today.  With his hair shorn in a layered, and pretty rough style, he trotted off to the set, an old textile town near Shelby, NC, this morning at the crack of dawn to put on his costume and make-up and become a citizen of District 12.  Of course, he can’t divulge much info right away, but he’ll give us a full after-action report when he can.

Check out these articles (though the interviewee who assumes Lenny Kravitz is coming to Shelby clearly doesn’t know that Cinna sticks to the Capitol, at least until Catching Fire). Thanks, James, for keeping those links coming.

And, of course, we’re all buzzing about that Cinna casting, no? At first, when I heard the news, I was certain it was a joke. Was Kravitz even being considered? Where did this come from? At least, unlike a certain headmaster, I did know who Kravitz was, and did not picture him as Woody Allen’s cousin! But the more I’ve pondered this casting decision, the more I like it.  Cinna is an amorphous, androgynous, mercurial sort of character.  Many of us feared his subtlety would be destroyed by casting some overtly effeminate actor who would make him a caricature of the stereotypical fashion designer: “Girlfriend, we are gonna set you on f-ire!” Ugh.  Kravitz, however, is a wonderful combination of many things: his work, his attitude, his beliefs, even his ethnicity, a complex and fascinating web of contraries. Pick a country or faith, and he probably has relatives from there( Africa, Russia, Cherokee, Jewish, just for starters, wow!). He seems androgynous, but is a famous breaker of ladies’ hearts.  He’s amazing in a variety of fields. Most appropriate.

 I find it really intriguing that both Cinna and Portia will be played by “ethnically interesting” folks, whose features are both Anglo and African American. Does this reflect the common belief that the future will see continued blending in our features until everyone is sort of the same light brown? (There are even theories that redheads will be extinct. Clearly, people with that notion know not of the Weasley family’s productivity).  I can’t wait to see how the “look” of the Capitol and the Districts is developed. Will we see specific “types” in different districts? (The casting people in NC really would love to have some amputees turn up for auditions; Ripper, where are you?). Or maybe Portia is just meant to look like Kravitz’s female drummer!

 For our “beautiful, brilliant Cinna,” I actually think  Kravitz is  going to be amazing, and like Cinna, a mix of characteristics that amaze, startle, impress, and ultimately, charm. Yep, Lenny, I think I’m gonna go your way on this one.


  1. As is my MO, I completely jumped the conversation-posting gun and expressed a quick off-the-cuff Kravitz/Cinna concern under a different discussion. Now that I’ve read your thoughtful evaluation, I recant my previous disallusions and vow to keep an open mind.

    I must plead “fluctuating-atmospheric-pressure syndrome” as my defense! What a crazy spring!!! One would think the GamesMakers had us all under an Arena dome!!!!

  2. Arabella Figg says

    Good commentary, Elizabeth. I too was impressed with the EW hard copy article and the expressed desire in the interviews to be faithful to the tone and intent of the book. While some chosen don’t fit my imaginings, I think the producers have worked hard to make this a high quality project.

  3. Wonderful post, as always, Elizabeth. Two quick notes!

    (1) Being aware of the dangers implicit to making “a media spectacle about media spectacles” as you say, is a great first step in avoiding a Capitol-esque film that celebrates the Capitol and those Capitol citizens watching the Games rather than the Districts and their Tributes. I am more than half-convinced, though, that this celebration is inevitable and necessary to the process of making a movie costing the fortune these sorts of productions involve and our sitting in cinema seats to view it. A teevee show about the demeaning evils of teevee watching, no matter how it is done, involves all the ‘production values’ of the industry and our having to watch it, the evil being condemned or just exposed, for it to work. These are not loops that can be escaped, only acknowledged.

    (2) Having said that, I am glad the films are being made and by people aware of these unavoidable irony traps. They will serve — as have the Potter and Twilight adaptations — as ‘trailers to the books.’ More people will have Mrs. Collins’ imaginative experience consequent to their having watched the films and that is the good to be celebrated, first and last, with this movie making.

    In itself, though, not so much. Lenny Kravitz may enjoy playing the counter-regime non-conformist artist that is Cinna, on screen as in real life, but, as rock star and son of teevee actress and child of Beverly Hills High and sound studio cultures, he is a long way from a real life Cinna (because the regime embraces and profits from and is strengthened by his ‘non-conformity’ and packaged ‘regime bashing’).

    But, given this is a loop not of Kravitz’ making or within his ability to escape, I leave it with an “oh, well.” The entertainment industries — film, music, stage — cannot be savaged as the demeaning and diminishing and dissipating forces that they are today by themselves; as always, that falls to the printed page. But insomuch as the movies bring people to that, I can accept the tragedy that it comes with confirmation of the evils and Capitol victory that the author condemns in story.

  4. PotterMom05 says

    While not how I pictures Cinna, of course, Kravitz is as good a choice as any, I think. I was also afraid Cinna would be made too feminine, when really he’s such a strong character and full of such subtlety, playing the game his entire life and working towards his moment with the Girl on Fire. I have not seen Kravitz’s acting work, but he certainly has a lot of cross over appeal. I guess if anything, because of his stardom, my fear is that he would come across too hard- not gentle enough with Katniss to lead her along her self realization and acceptance.

    Thanks for the summary of the EW article. It does sound like at least some of the people involved in the making of the film are concerned about it’s integrity and understand that they are creating something that will mock the system, while at the same time creating stars within that system. It is an fascinating paradox, to be sure, and I’m glad I don’t have to walk that line.

  5. “Lionsgate executives told Wall Street analysts this morning to expect big things from The Hunger Games, a series of four action films that the studio will release from the trilogy written by Suzanne Collins.”


  6. Arabella Figg says

    Ah. Let the Game-makers wring every last possible dollar out of the Games. Those prep teams and arenas are expensive. 😉

  7. Elizabeth says

    Ah, the Deathly Hallows trend accelerates! When the first Harry Potter film was made, there was no talk of two films for the last book; those conversations didn’t start until very close to the end. Then Breaking Dawn was planned as a two-parter while Eclipse was in production, and now, with the first movie only one week into production, the Gamemakers are already foreseeing a two-part last installment. Maybe that “seven-part-last-four -minutes” thing isn’t so wide of the mark after all!

  8. And now Donald Sutherland as President Snow.

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