Hunger Games Stars on Training, Crazy Fans, and Peeta-philia

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Unless you forcibly blinded and deafened yourself after the onslaught of Twilight paraphernalia over the past couple of years, you've likely heard the nationwide shrieking of tween girls that signals the approach of The Hunger Games film release date (March 23).

But don't let the Harry Potter-sized hype fool you. Though they are based on young adult novels, The Hunger Games is a bad-ass story. Essentially, it's about kids being forced to murder each other for sport. Eat your heart out, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.

We sat down with the film's stars -- Jennifer Lawrence, who plays the lead role of Katniss, as well as Amandla Stenberg (Rue) and Alexander Ludwig (Cato) -- to find out what really went on behind the scenes.

New Times: So, Jennifer, are you as bad-ass as Katniss in real life?

Lawrence: No. I can't even, like, fake sarcasm. I cry all the time. I shake. I have anxiety. I get headaches.

Ludwig: She's not as crazy as she makes herself sound.

So are you secretly a girly girl?

Lawrence: No, I'm definitely not a girly girl either.

Stenberg: Actually, I don't think she realizes how sarcastic she is. She is, but she has an amazing sense of humor.

Lawrence: It's just rudeness. It's constantly being misinterpreted as

sarcasm, but I'm really just being rude and condescending. I just think

I'm better then everyone else. Why shouldn't I talk like this?

So tell us about the training that was involved in preparing for the movie.

Ludwig: We were all really big fans of the book, and Jen and I

especially had a lot of training in agility and free running -- free

running is a sport where you basically use the environment around you to

do cool tricks off of. So we had to learn that for the scenes where

we're running through the forest. There's a lot of that kind of stuff.

There was definitely a lot of physical work involved.

Stenberg: I didn't have to bulk up or anything, but I got to do

some really fun arm-training stuff. I practiced climbing a tree as fast

as I could, and I also got to fly around the room and that was really


And Jennifer, you had to do archery and all that cool stuff?

Lawrence: I had to do the same training as Alexander, but with basically

added archery -- and track because I run weird. I had to actually learn

how to run. I was basically running for long distances because all I do

in the movie is run... During training, it was 100 arrows a day. During shooting,  we tried to keep it up, but it was tricky because we were shooting all

the time.

That's a skill that should come in handy for the rest of your life.

Lawrence: Yeah, I think it's something I'll use for the rest of my life.

Ludwig: She hunted our lunch, so that was really nice.

Stenberg: She caught squirrel for us.

It seems like you all get along well.

Ludwig: Everyone just became like a huge family on set because we sort of got thrown in together into this phenomenon.

Speaking of which, what's it been like so far to be a part of

this huge phenomenon, and going from lesser-known movies to a big


Lawrence: It's great. Honestly, it's mostly exciting because it's

actually a good story that we all believed. Personally, I said yes to

the movie for all the reasons I've said yes to all the indies. I loved the

script, I wanted to work with the director, I loved the message of it, the

story that it tells. I think we were all very aware of the fan base, but

it wasn't until we saw this press...

Stenberg: I say that when we were shooting it, we kind of felt like we

were shooting on set of an indie just 'cause the feeling and what we

cared about was that the movie was well crafted, not be like, "Oh, this is a

big blockbuster and we have to do this and be all showy for the fans."

It definitely didn't feel like that.

Have you guys had any crazy fan experiences yet?

Lawrence: We all have our weird stories. Amandla has a carpet hunter.

Stenberg: There was one guy, when we were shooting and no one really knew

anything about the cast. We posted a picture of us playing pool, and this

guy... went to every

hotel in the area and looked at the carpet to see if it matched up with

the picture. So that was a little strange. But yeah, it's good to know

fans are so supportive.

OK, guys, spit it out. Team Gale or team Peeta?

Lawrence: I've been at this for a month. You just have to say... neither.

See, I used to say both until I started hearing what they were saying

about me in interviews -- and when Josh [Hutcherson] said that I peed my

pants on Ellen. Now I say neither.

Ludwig: I'm team Rue. I like Rue. Rue's my favorite.

Lawrence: Thanks, Alexander. What? No, it's fine. I just started the revolution, but whatever.

Stenberg: I started the revolution, actually.

Lawrence: Actually, you kinda did.

Ludwig: I heard there are some cool names for teams now.

What are the team names?

Stenberg: At one of the press events, someone was holding up a sign that said, "I'm a Peeta-file."

Ludwig: I guess politically speaking, that's not very funny.

Is the movie going to live up to fans' expectations?

Lawrence: I was a huge fan of these books, and my initial thought was, Great, another book series is going to be ruined by the movies. After

meeting Gary and the entire team behind it, it was clear that everyone was a

fan and everyone truly believed in Suzanne [Collins]'s message and wanted to make

a good film. I don't think any of us would be here if we thought


Ludwig: One thing we really had in common is that we're all diehard

fans of this book, and really, really respect Suzanne's writing. One

thing I really admired about the way Gary went about making this film is

that they really incorporated Suzanne totally into the mix. She was 100 percent a part of creating this world that she created in a

novel onscreen. We just can't wait to see how it's received. It's very

true to the novel, and as a fan, I'm very excited about it.

-- Vanessa Martin

Follow Cultist on Facebook and Twitter @CultistMiami.

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