Willow Shields discusses The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, the characters, Suzanne Collins, fans and lots more

In a lengthy new interview with About.com, Willow Shields discusses various aspects of The Hunger Games franchise including fans’ response to violence issues in the story, author Suzanne Collins, and lots more.

Excerpts from the interview can be read below:

Are you really looking forward to having your character take more of a prominent role in the story?

“Yeah, I’m really excited because her role becomes a bit bigger. She really matures inCatching Fire and Mockingjay.”

How familiar were you with the books when you were cast as Prim?

“I was actually in the middle of reading it when I got the audition. So, I was like, ‘Okay, great. Let me finish this book so I can do this audition.’ I was so excited. My brother was a huge fan. He’s almost 15 now so he read them a while ago and was a huge fan.”

When you were reading the book, were you a fan of Prim’s? Did you like the character?

“Yeah, I thought the character was really interesting, especially once I got into the second and third books. Because not only does she have to go through her sister going into the Hunger Games once, but then withCatching Fire, twice. And how she changes after all that, I thought she was a very interesting character.”

It must have been a happy surprise to beat out all the other actresses trying out for Prim.

“I was really surprised. [Laughing] But I wasn’t as surprised until I actually figured out how big of a movie this was going to be.”

When did that hit you?

“I think it was maybe a while after I was done shooting, when everything started getting crazy with the media and stuff. I think that’s really when it hit. And then at the premiere I could tell how crazy this movie was.”

Did you get a chance to talk to author Suzanne Collins?

“I got to meet her at the premiere, which was very exciting. I thanked Suzanne Collins for writing The Hunger Games, it’s such an incredible series, and to give me the opportunity because of writing that. It’s incredible. She’s incredibly nice. I love Suzanne Collins.”

Did she say anything to you about Prim?

“She did. She just said, ‘From when I saw your audition, I looked at you and I said well, this is how I imagined Prim.’ That was really exciting for me. She thanked me for playing Prim and I was like, ‘Thank you!'”

The second film has a different director. Have you met with Francis Lawrence yet?

“I haven’t yet. I’m actually going to speak to him on the phone this week, which I’m really excited about. But he is an incredible director, from what I’ve seen. Water for Elephants is a really beautiful movie. I’ve seen I Am Legendwhich has really great atmosphere, so I think he’s going to do well on Catching Fire.”

Is there any scene from Catching Fire you’re really looking forward to filming?

“I don’t want to give anything away! No spoilers, but I’m really excited to shoot some scenes because in The Hunger Games there were some people that I didn’t shoot scenes with that I’m going to shoot some scenes with in Catching Fire, which I’m really excited about.”

Who is your favorite character?

“My favorite character… Katniss is an incredible character, especially for young girls like me to look up to. She’s such an incredible role model. I really love Katniss, but my favorite character is Rue, I think, because she’s such a cool character. Me and Amandla [Stenberg] got along great. I was Prim and she was Rue and Katniss thought of Rue in the Games as me, as a reminder of that. So, I think we got along really great because of that.”

Is there a Catching Fire character you like?

“I really like Finnick in Catching Fire from reading the book. I think Finnick is a cool character in Catching Fire but then in Mockingjay too, he becomes a really funny, nice character. I think that Finnick is a really cool character.”

Before the movies even came out there was a big deal made about the violence in the books and how that would translate to the films. How did you feel, as a young person reading the book, about the violence to kids?

“When a lot of people talk about The Hunger Games they’re just like, ‘Oh my god, it’s such a violent book. You’re too young to read that.’ And, to me, reading the book when I was 11 I didn’t think about the violence. I thought about the reason Katniss was doing this was for her family. She was fighting for her family, which made the violence not seem as bad.”

Did you hear those complaints while you were making the movie or right before it was going to come out?

“Definitely. People were saying, ‘Is it going to be rated R?,’ and stuff like that. I was like, ‘Well, it’s not that violent when you think about Katniss fighting for her family and for Prim.’ It’s a lot different.”

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