When it comes to playing characters with dubious intentions, Mahershala Ali and Natalie Dormer have perfected the craft.
Ali plays Remy Danton, the smooth talking lobbyist trying to stay two steps ahead of power hungry politico Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) in Netflix’s House of Cards. And Dormer uses all of her feminine charms in her quest to become thequeen in HBO’s Game of Thrones as Margaery Tyrell, the high born hottie who marries her way to the top.
Now in The Hunger Games: The Mockingjay Part 1, in theaters Friday, both actors, who visited Miami last week to discuss the latest chapter in the franchise, find themselves playing characters that are fighting for a cause rather than their own ambitions.
Dormer plays take-charge filmmaker Cressida who creates the propaganda machine for the rebels of Panem, a refreshing change for the actress, who has played her share of medieval temptresses.
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“It’s absolutely liberating and wonderful to play a woman is defined by her profession,” she says.
Gone are the bodices and silken gowns, she even had to shave off part of her blond tresses to inhabit the character, which was not a problem for the 32-year-old Brit.
“When you are being offered Hunger Games, it doesn’t take that much convincing. In the novel she is described as having a shaven head with a green vine tattoo. If they wanted, I would have shaved my whole head, but it didn’t come to that.”
Dormer got herself in fighting form with some serious cardiovascular training; in March she finished the London Marathon in less than four hours.
In Mockingjay, Ali plays Boggs, the man charged with the impossible task of keeping the courageous Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), out of harm’s way as she tries to unite the poverty-stricken districts against the avaricious Capitol.
Though Hunger Games is a young adult franchise, things get real, says Ali.
“If you look at Mockingjay Parts 1 and 2, they kind of deepen and darken in a certain way. It gets into relationships in a deeper fashion and also this ideological war and this propaganda war that happens between the rebel forces and the Capitol.”
Both actors agree that what makes the Hunger Games irresistible to audiences, old and young, is the way the films deal with themes like oppression, tyranny, power and manipulation and present us with the incorruptible Katniss, a character that Ali notes “so many of us would love to believe we would be like” in the face of adversity.
In the face of the ubiquitous probes for spoilers for upcoming seasons of their addictive shows, Ali and Dormer demonstrate a Katniss-like cool.
Dormer does drop one hint: “Mockingjay is about trying to set a coup into action. There is a big coup that happens in Game of Thrones this season and Margaery finds herself caught in that.”
As for how Remy Danton is going to fare under the Frank Underwood administration, Ali’s only comment: “It’s complicated.”