“Pandemonium, excitement.” “A lot of energy. A lot of 12-year-old girls crying.” That’s what Bruno Gunn and Meta Golding respectively say their lives have been filled with ever since they embarked on their press tour for the newest installment of the Hunger Games film series, Catching Fire. You can hardly blame them for perhaps overstating the case.
“Is there anything to compare? Maybe Star Wars,” Golding said, of Hunger Games‘ mass appeal.
Gunn and Golding play Brutus and Enobaria in the new film, two tributes who each won a previous round of the Hunger Games and who are, along with 22 other winning tributes (including, yes, Katniss and Peeta) who are shockingly called back into the terror-dome to do battle once again.
The pair were in the Twin Cities a few weeks ago along with a few other cast members to help introduce a sneak preview of the film at the Mall of America. I had a chance to talk with them for a few moments about the enormity of the project and how they approached the daunting challenge of meeting the expectations of approximately 37 billion stark, raving lunatic fans.
There have been a number of hopeful franchises that have popped up in the last decade or so that are aimed at the young adult marked. Why do you think it is that Hunger Games, in particular, has really tapped into their consciousness so much?
Golding: I think that it’s because it’s gutter, and it’s about survival. I think it’s tapped into the younger market because you can make a lot of parallels with being in middle school, or in high school, and how you survive in that culture. And I think as an adult, whatever working environment you’re in, how do you survive. The social animal in you is always making alliances. There’s the boss to deal with. So I think that theme of survival is innate, it’s in our DNA. Kids, adults, you can apply it anywhere.
Gunn: I have one word for it: Suzanne Collins [sic]. It’s Suzanne Collins’ imagination. It’s not only her — it’s Katniss, our hero who’s this strong female. And she resonates with the fans. So those are the three main points that make Catching Fire unique, and stand out.
What were your first impressions of your characters? What did you think when you got cast, “This can be my little filigree on the character”?
Gunn: A looooong time ago, I had a friend back in New York that said to me, “Right now, someone is out there writing your role.” And I hung onto that, and I had put that in my heart and said, “I believe this. I have faith in this. Right now, someone’s out there writing this role.” When I read this book and read Brutus, I thought — “This is it. This is my role. LionsGate got this right.” And I embody the guy, felt like the guy.
So your filigree would be, simply, this role was meant for you?
Gunn: It’s my role. Yeah, absolutely. (Laughs)
Golding: I googled Enobaria and saw that she was this vicious warrior, and I had this vision or this dream that had come to me that was a couple weeks before. … I kind of saw (the role) as a responsibility, so it made me get more and more into it. I was thinking, “Everyone has their opinion and their imagination about what the character is.” For me, it was more profound for me because I felt I had so much responsibility toward it. If you were playing someone who was alive, you’d have to live up to that person, but these characters are already alive for so many fans. To me, it just made it more sacred. I hope they’re pleased.
Gunn: I have to agree. Here’s this mold, and we have to fill it.
What was it like working with Francis Lawrence?
Golding: This was massive. Sometimes we would have thousands of extras, or they would fly in these horses from Holland. I mean, it was more than I could’ve ever imagined to be on set. Francis is the most calm … It’s like a huge storm happening, and Francis is the calmest, most collected, knows exactly what he wants. He was the steady captain in the storm. Not that anyone else was crazy.
Gunn: He had a vision, and he knew what his vision was and he executed it. You never walked away from the guy and wondered what the hell he meant. He was very clear. There was never confusion. You know it’s big, but in the end, you know it’s a set — with actors, with crew, with scenes and dialogue.
Golding: The first day on set — no matter what, if I ever stop getting nervous, I should stop being an actor — but the first day on set was so exciting. It was this beautiful gymnasium scene that they built, and it was all of the tributes, and Philip Seymour Hoffman was there, Jennifer Lawrence, Jena (Malone), Sam (Claflin), Jeffrey Wright. It was everybody. And everybody was so excited because basically, besides Jennifer and Josh Hutcherson, we were all new. We were all stepping into this amazing project and this energy.
What weapon would be your weapon of choice if you were to have to take part in the Hunger Games?
Gunn: Mine would be an umbrella.
Golding: You mean like, a la Rihanna?
Golding: A lot of money.