By Darlene Donloe
I think I’m probably in the minority when I say that I didn’t see the original The Hunger Games, which became more than a successful cult sensation – it became a movement!!
Adapted from the novel, the film highlights 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who volunteers in her younger sister's place to enter the games, and is forced to rely upon her sharp instincts as well as the mentorship of drunken former victor Haymitch Abernathy when she's pitted against highly-trained Tributes who have prepared for these Games their entire lives. If she's ever to return home to District 12, Katniss must make impossible choices in the arena that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.
Every year in the ruins of what was once North America, the evil Capitol of the nation of Panem forces each of its twelve districts to send a teenage boy and girl to compete in the Hunger Games. A twisted punishment for a past uprising and an ongoing government intimidation tactic, The Hunger Games are a nationally televised event in which "Tributes" must fight with one another until one survivor remains. Pitted against highly-trained Tributes who have prepared for these Games their entire lives, Katniss is forced to rely upon her sharp instincts as well as the mentorship of drunken former victor Haymitch Abernathy. If she's ever to return home to District 12, Katniss must make impossible choices in the arena that weigh survival against humanity and life against love
The movie starred Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Stanley Tucci. Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz, Donald Sutherland and Woody Harrelson.
Well, the sequel, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, hits theaters this Friday. Most of the cast, the ones who weren’t killed off in the original, is back for more action.
In the Lionsgate sequel, Katniss (Lawrence) and Peeta (Hutcherson) return to the deadly games to fight against a new set of foes.
Joining the drama this time around is Jeffrey Wright, who plays Beetee. Wright is known for his role as Boardwalk Empire villain Valentin Narcisse. In Hunger he plays an intelligent, creative male tribute from District 3 who gains attention for his innovative use of wire (often in combination with electricity) as a weapon, techniques which won him his original hunger games. District 7 tribute Johanna Mason dubbed Beetee “Volts” for his particular skill set.
Back into the fray is Cinna, played by Lenny Kravitz. Cinna is a stylist from The Capitol who helps District 12 female tribute Katniss impress viewers and sponsors with her “girl on fire” look, among others. Cinna worked with Katniss for the 74th games, her victory tour following her win and the 75th games, in which winners are forced to compete again. Kravitz, a true rocker-turned-actor, most recently appeared in Lee Daniels’ The Butler.
The film is directed by Francis Lawrence, from a screenplay by Simon Beaufoy and Michael deBruyn, based upon the novel “Catching Fire” by Suzanne Collins and produced by Nina Jacobson and Jon Kilik.
I caught up with Lenny Kravitz (LK) and Jeffrey Wright (JW) recently to discuss The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.
LENNY KRAVITZ as CINNA
DD: Talk about what attracted you to this film.
LK: First of all, the story, it’s great story telling. You can have all these great actors and actresses and directors and people, but at the end of the day, it was a well-written story with great characters.
DD: Were you familiar with this story?
LK: I didn’t know anything about The Hunger Games before I got a call. I was in the Bahamas working on some music in the jungle somewhere. I had to download it and read it.
JEFFREY WRIGHT as BEETEE
DD: What did you think after you read it?
LK: Once I read it, I was hooked. I read the whole book in one night. My character Cinna, he works for the Capitol, obviously. He’s quiet. He does his job. He has an instant attraction to Kattiness. He understands who she is. He believes in her. He wants to be there for her. They begin a friendship. In this film, he’s quiet, but he’s ready to make a statement. He’s ready to show what side he’s on. I like that he speaks through his art.
JW: One of the things, besides the thematics, was there had already been this extraordinary work done by many of the people here. So I just had to piggy-back on their efforts. Like Lenny, I was in a jungle in West Africa somewhere in Sierra Leone. I missed out on a lot of the fanfare of the first one.
DD: So, your thoughts on the film?
JW: I realized there was something very interesting happening here, particularly for younger audiences. There is something epic here. Movie making of a scale we see a lot of now, but at the same time there are these poignant relevant ideas being presented to young minds, young developing minds that, I think, are really essential. They are not specific, but they are presented in an intelligent way that allows the reader or audience member to place themselves within the world and make these considerations that are relevant to their lives outside of the theater. I think, for me, it seems to make sense.
DD: So, it’s entertainment with a message?
JW: You entertain, but at the same time you provide a kind of escapism, a relevant escapism that doesn’t discount the complexities of who we are and what our world is undergoing now.
DD: What do you like about your character?
JW: I like that he is an idea man that is resistant to the status quo.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Rated PG-13 for “intense sequences of violence and action, some frightening images, thematic elements, a suggestive situation and language.” Run Time: 146 minutes.