Jena Malone and Sam Claflin are pretty confident Hunger Games: Catching Fire is going to do well — especially with teen audiences. The sequel to last year’s post apocalyptic sci fi thriller based on novelist Suzanne Collins’ trilogy is out Friday, but is already driving fans of the first one into a frenzy.
Malone, who practically grew up on screen appearing in such movies as Contact, Stepmom, For Love of the Game and Donnie Darko, and British actor Claflin ( Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Snow White and the Huntsman) felt the love while in Miami appearing for a Q&A and autograph session at the Bank United Center.
So is it fun when “Hunger Games” fanatics drool over you?
JM: Fan events are the most beautiful chaos. You are literally being anointed by a 15-year-old girl’s tears. If I got to feel one thing for the rest of my life, that would be it. It’s really touched me: this insane amount of love and passion. They’re shaking and vibrating and you just want to hold them and say, ‘It’s gonna be OK. Let’s get out of here and have a picnic.’ They don’t know if we did a good job or not, just that we’re involved in something they love.
SC: Really, it is beautiful to be a part of — we’re both very honored: The idea that you’ve made someone’s life just by smiling.
What is the appeal of these movies and books, in your opinion?
JM: What’s so interesting is that basically teens want a story like this, nothing sugarcoated. They are saying, ‘Show us what the world is really like. Stop shielding us.’
SC: To have such a strong female heroine is so inspirational. Jennifer Lawrence is so grounded and normal and so achievable in a sense. It’s like, if she can do this, I can do this. I think she is seen as the girl next door for a new generation.
How would you describe your characters?
SC: Finnick Odair is kind of this charismatic, charming, dangerous but exciting piece of meat [laughs]. That sums him up to an extent. He’s very unpredictable; at the same time, there’s definitely a sparkle in his eye.
JM: It’s funny. If he is the angel of manipulation, I would be the devil. Is Johanna going to spit at you? Kiss you? She keeps you on your toes with these bulldozer weapons to survive in her life.
How similar are you to your on-screen personas?
SC: Underneath Finnick’s confident exterior is a guy who is very lonely and lost in a sense. I think that’s the thing I related to most. Going into the audition I didn’t expect I’d get the role. I was so insecure. Walking into that room I’m sure they didn’t see a blond sex god!
JM: I wouldn’t say I’m similar to Johanna at all. I found the anger and the violence a hard thing to carry in my body. I felt kind of brutalized.
How did you all get along on set?
JM: We love each other dearly. We formed this intense family pack. Jen and Josh [Hutcherson] set the tone for a hardcore bromance. There were games hijinks, fun and snacks.
SC: What was great is the fact that we all kind of worked in the same exact manner. We were professional the minute we heard, ‘Action!’ and raised a smile when we needed to. I liked that happy medium. It allowed our personalities to shine.