Filmmaker Roundtable: Katniss, the two-movies split, Effie and more

nina jacobson francis lawrence mockingjay

At, producer Nina Jacobson, director Francis Lawrence and screenwriter Peter Craig answer several questions about The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, from the scene they are most excited to see to clarifying rumors regarding using CGI for Plutarch Heavensbee, as one scene was left unfinished by Philip Seymour Hoffman‘s untimely death, including Effie Trinket in the rebellion and more about the two movies.

Read the Q & A from the filmmaker roundtable below:

  • Nina, tell us about a scene in the film that you can’t wait for everyone to see
    NJ: When Katniss goes to District 8 and says, ‘If we burn, you burn with us.’ For the first time, she sees the impact she has on people. Those moments when Katniss owns what and who she is really give me the chills. Oh and I’m excited about what these two dreamed up for ‘The Hanging Tree.’ Francis and Peter came up with an incredible way of turning a powerful moment in the book into great big cinema
  • Obviously, everyone wants to know how you split the book into two movies. Can we get a hint?
    NJ: The first half of the book is clearly a story about trying to get Peeta back. Emotionally, Katniss is betrayed. She’s a foreigner in a strange land. She knows that people are looking to her to make a change, and this is the time where she realizes she can’t stand by and do nothing. Snow has done too much. There has been too much deception, and the people Katniss loves are in danger. She will do whatever it takes to keep them safe.
  • There’s a rumor that you will finish Philip Seymour Hoffman’s unfinished scenes with CGI.
    FL: We finished the majority of his work. I think he might have had 8 to 10 days left on our schedule. In most of those scenes, Phil didn’t have any dialogue. We are going to put him into those scenes, but we’re only using real footage. We’re not creating anything digital or a robotic version of him.
    NJ: We had to rewrite the dialogue scenes that he had left and there’s no question that shooting those scenes is painful without him. We might give a line of Plutarch’s to Haymitch or Effie, but only in circumstances we are able to do that without undermining the intent of the scenes.
  • Let’s talk about Katniss. In the final scene of Catching Fire, she’s hard to read emotionally. Where is she now?
    FL: The opening of Catching Fire is the first time you really start to get a sense of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in Katniss’ (sic) life. When you get into Mockingjay, that’s just ratcheted up. She’s panicked, and she can’t sleep. She’s barely able to hold it together. That’s compounded by the fact that she’s now really distrustful of everybody around her. She feels betrayed by Haymitch and by Plutarch. She also feels lost without Peeta. So, she’s very, very fragile and very, very angry.
  • We also meet new characters, like Alma Coin – the leader of District 13. What do we need to know about her?
    FL: Coin’s singular vision to unite all of the districts in a massive rebellion is no small undertaking, especially when most of the districts have no idea that District 13 still exists. Her relationship with Katniss is very complicated as well, because Katniss is wary of everyone at this point. Julianne [Moore] has done an amazing job with helping to shape the character of Coin.
    PC: Her portrayal of Coin is filled with such intelligence and warmth; anyone would want to be loyal to the character she has created.
  • What was your biggest hurdle in taking it from page to screen?
    PC: Like I said, it’s extremely internal. You just can’t make a film as myopic as Katniss becomes in some parts of the book. But that was an opportunity and not a drawback at all. We still stayed very Katniss-centric and she still completely drives the movie, but the fun thing is that we get to mash her arc with what’s actually happening in all of Panem. And we get to show parallels in other districts. Suzanne was helpful in building out moments or things that are mentioned in maybe just a sentence or two in the book.
    FL: There’s a structure that Suzanne has laid out in the books that you can take apart to tell two separate stories. Because we needed to expand the world in Mockingjay, we could really elaborate on those stories, which is exciting.
  • Effie Trinket doesn’t make much of an appearance in the Mockingjay book, but…
    FL: She’s back! In the book, Fulvia basically replaces her. But how can anybody replace Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket in these movies? When Suzanne Collins saw Catching Fire, she called and one of the first things she said was, ‘There’s no way Effie Trinket cannot be in the Mockingjay films.’ Effie brings such warmth and fun and levity to these dark stories. She’s the fish out of water in this one and fans will love how she has adapted to the world of District 13.
    NJ: What makes Effie interesting is that she does not want to be there. Unlike Plutarch, she does not want to be a part of the revolution. She has to be convinced to help, and she helps for personal reasons, not for political reasons.

Check out new stills from Mockingjay hereJulianne Moore‘s video interview here, and read a scene from the movie here.

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