The Hunger Games Behind-The-Scenes Facts

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May the odds — and these facts — be ever in your favor!

It’s been 10 years since The Hunger Games debuted in theaters and took the world by storm, so we’re going to celebrate with some cool facts you may or may not know about the movie franchise!

1.

The concept for The Hunger Games was inspired by reality TV and the Iraq War.


Lionsgate / Everett Collection

Author Suzanne Collins revealed she was “channel surfing between reality TV programs and actual war coverage. On one channel, there’s a group of young people competing for I don’t even know, and on the next, there’s a group of young people fighting in an actual war. I was really tired, and the lines between these stories started to blur in a very unsettling way. That’s the moment when Katniss’s story came to me.”

2.

Several big-name actors auditioned for the role of Katniss Everdeen — which ultimately went to Jennifer Lawrence.


Getty Images

Before Jennifer landed and absolutely dominated as Katniss, many actors read for the part, including Shailene Woodley, Saoirse Ronan, Chloë Grace Moretz, Emma Roberts, Abigail Breslin, Kaya Scodelario, Emily Browning, and Hailee Steinfeld (who was a frontrunner for the part).

3.

Jennifer was asked to lose weight for the role, but she refused because she didn’t want young girls to be exposed to a character who was “unobtainable and thin.”


Lionsgate / Everett Collection

“In the first movie, when it was obviously being talked about, like, ‘It’s The Hunger Games, you have to lose 10 pounds,’ I was like, ‘We have control over this image; we have control over this role model,” Jennifer told SciFiNow. “‘Why would we make her something unobtainable and thin?’ This is a person that young girls — well, all women, but mainly young girls — will be looking up to and are going to want to look like her, and we have control over it, so why not make her strong? Why not make her beautiful and healthy and fit? I was very adamant about that, because I think that our industry doesn’t take enough responsibility for what it does to our society, about having these unrealistic expectations, and I don’t want to be part of that.”

4.

Liam Hemsworth and Alexander Ludwig initially auditioned for the role of Peeta Mellark, which ultimately went to Josh Hutcherson.


George Pimentel / WireImage / Getty Images

Despite being interested in playing the role of Peeta, the male tribute from District 12, both Liam and Alexander were offered other parts in the film. Liam went on to play Gale, while Alexander played Cato. Actors Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Alex Pettyfer, and Evan Peters also auditioned to play Peeta.

5.

Jennifer was reportedly paid $26 million for the trilogy franchise.


Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

She was reportedly paid $1 million for The Hunger Games, $10 million for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, and $15 million for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1 and Part 2.

6.

An interest in archery dramatically increased around the world after The Hunger Games made its feature debut.


Lionsgate / Everett Collection

Katniss’s weapon of choice was a bow and arrow, and fans of the franchise took notice. USA Archery even wrote Suzanne a letter saying, “You’ve made archery hot. For pretty much the first time ever, in modern-day America.”

7.

David Henrie was in the final running for the role of Gale.


Angela Weiss / Getty Images

The former Wizards of Waverly Place star made it to the final deliberation stage for the role of Gale. Since Jennifer had already been chosen for the role of Katniss by that time, the decision came down to the chemistry read. David came really close, but ultimately the casting directors saw something in Liam. Other actors who auditioned included Robbie Amell and Drew Roy.

8.

Liam’s older brother Chris Hemsworth helped him land the role of Gale.


Kevin Winter / Getty Images

Talk about brotherly love! Chris was one of Liam’s biggest supporters when it came to The Hunger Games. Chris ran lines with Liam and work-shopped different ways to approach the role. Chris acted as Katniss when they read lines together, and apparently he got really into it. Chris told MTV he put on his “my girly American accent.”

9.

Producer Nina Jacobson was “obsessed” with The Hunger Games books.


Michael Loccisano / Getty Images

“I couldn’t put it down,” Nina told the Hollywood Reporter. “I was completely obsessed with it, and I couldn’t bear the idea of someone else producing it.” She was also determined to get in contact with Suzanne Collins. Nina admitted she was on “a dogged pursuit of Suzanne. I spent a lot of time on the phone with her and with her agent Jason Dravis.”

10.

Head hair designer Linda Flowers spent $30,000 on Katniss’s lace-front wigs.


Lionsgate / Everett Collection

Although Jennifer did dye her natural blonde hair for the first two film installments, she wore wigs for Mockingjay — Part 1 and Part 2 due to hair damage. Linda rented $30,000 worth of wigs — five wigs stamped at $6,000 each — ranging from light brown to dark brown, with a hint of red.

11.

Linda created over 100 braided styles for the cast.


Lionsgate / Everett Collection

In order to keep Katniss’s hairstyle distinct, none of the other cast members were allowed to wear a hairstyle resembling the iconic side braid. Linda created several variations of braided styles, including a headband braid and braided buns.

12.

Katniss is named after a plant.


Lionsgate / Everett Collection

“[Katniss] was a born archer,” Suzanne told the New York Times. “Her name came later, while I was researching survival training and specifically edible plants. In one of my books, I found the arrowhead plant, and the more I read about it, the more it seemed to reflect her. Its Latin name has the same roots as Sagittarius.”

13.

Jennifer would purposely make her breath smell bad before kissing Liam.


Lionsgate / Everett Collection

“Anytime I had to kiss Jennifer was pretty uncomfortable,” Liam told Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show. “When you look at it on the outside, it looks like a great picture. She’s one of my best friends. I love her. But if we had a kissing scene, she would make a point of eating garlic or tuna fish or something that was disgusting, and right before the scene, she’d be like, ‘I didn’t brush my teeth.’ I’d be like, ‘Great, I can’t wait to get in there and taste it.’”

14.

Jennifer and Liam also shared some pretty pleasant kisses offscreen.


Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

“Liam and I grew up together,” Jennifer told Andy Cohen. “Liam’s real hot. What would you have done? Yeah, I have [kissed him when the cameras weren’t rolling].”

Liam also revealed that Jennifer really helped him cope with his breakup with Miley Cyrus. He told Cosmopolitan during a 2014 interview, “Being around someone like Jen, who is so honest and laughs all day long, I am forced to be in the right-now. I’m much happier…I’m more comfortable in my own skin than I’ve ever been.”

15.

Woody Harrelson used to tease Jennifer about her Oscar.


Lionsgate / Everett Collection

Josh Hutcherson told the Guardian that while they were filming, Woody, who played Haymitch Abernathy, would poke fun at Lawrence and her Oscar, which she won for her role in Silver Linings Playbook. “Every time she would forget a line, Woody would go, ‘Oh, better give that Oscar back.'”

16.

Jennifer went deaf in one ear while filming.


Jason Merritt / Getty Images

“I went deaf in one ear for months,” Jennifer said. “But that wasn’t actually physically challenging. It was just ear challenging because I got all of these ear infections from the diving and the water and all of that stuff. And then a jet from one of the cornucopia scenes punctured my eardrum.” Ironically, Katniss actually goes deaf in her left ear in the books.

17.

But that wasn’t the only time a cast member got hurt on set. Sam Claflin, Josh, and Liam all received medical attention while filming.


Lionsgate / Everett Collection

Sam broke his finger after slipping and accidentally punching a stuntperson; Liam broke his ankle while filming the bombing scene in Mockinjay: Part 1, and they had to wait a month for it to properly heal so they could finish shooting; and Josh was accidentally kicked in the head by Jennifer between takes, which ultimately gave him a concussion.


Kevin Mazur / WireImage / Getty Images, Scott Gries / Getty Images

Francis Lawrence, the director of Catching Fire and Mockingjay — Part 1 and Part 2, also directed music videos for a ton of huge artists, including Beyoncé, Gaga, Avril, Britney Spears, Jay-Z, Jennifer Lopez, Whitney Houston, the Goo Goo Dolls, the Backstreet Boys, Lil’ Kim, Green Day, and Janet Jackson.

19.

A “swear jar” was kept on set because the films were rated PG-13, and one cast member basically filled it up.

There was a swear jar on the set. Co-writer and director Gary Ross said that half of it was contributed by Jennifer Lawrence. #LionsgateLIVE


Lionsgate

20.

Donald Sutherland wrote a three-page letter asking to be in the film.


Lionsgate / Everett Collection

“Nobody asked me to do [the role of President Snow],” Donald told GQ. “I wasn’t offered it. I like to read scripts, and it captured my passion. I wrote them a letter. The role of the president had maybe a line in the script. Maybe two. Didn’t make any difference. I thought it was an incredibly important film, and I wanted to be a part of it. I thought it could wake up an electorate that had been dormant since the ’70s. I hadn’t read the books. To be truthful, I was unaware of them. But they showed my letter to the director, Gary Ross, and he thought it’d be a good idea if I did it. He wrote those wonderfully poetic scenes in the rose garden, and they formed the mind and wit of Coriolanus Snow.”

21.

Elizabeth Banks needed help using the bathroom because of her extravagant costume.


Lionsgate / Everett Collection

“The nails [were] the worst part. I had these huge, bejeweled nails. You can’t undo a button,” Elizabeth, who played Effie Trinket, said on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. “The biggest problem was I couldn’t go to the bathroom. I had, like, ladies-in-waiting … and I would stop drinking water. I felt so bad about bringing people to the bathroom with me. They would hand me the toilet paper, they would have to unzip. The other thing is, I’m in a skirt. You would think you could hike it up, but no — they were too tight. I couldn’t get them over these thighs. They all had to go down and up and unzip and button. I had these undergarments holding it all together and very constricting … good times, good times.”

22.

The Hunger Games franchise was filmed across two continents.


Lionsgate / Everett Collection

Hungers Games was filmed around various towns in North Carolina, including Asheville and Charlotte; Catching Fire was filmed in Atlanta and Hawaii; and Mockingjay — Part 1 and Part 2 were filmed in Atlanta, Paris, and Berlin.

23.

In Catching Fire, there were just under 350 wigs used throughout the film.


Lionsgate / Everett Collection

Linda Flowers hired 40 hairstylists and hired 20 cosmetology students as interns to take on the big project.

24.

Sam Claflin was on a strict diet and workout regimen for four months to prepare to play Finnick Odair.


Lionsgate / Everett Collection

“From the moment I set foot in Atlanta, they had me at the gym, working out twice a day,” Sam told Teen Vogue. “As for my diet, I think I’ve eaten more chickens than there are in the world [laughs]. I would eat chicken and asparagus for lunch and dinner, and for breakfast I’d have an omelet and oatmeal. And I had that every day for four months.”

25.

Jennifer’s real-life nephews played her children in Mockingjay — Part 2.


Lionsgate

Jennifer’s nephews Bear and Theodore made an appearance in Mockingjay — Part 2‘s final scene. “I feel like I had two final endings with Katniss,” Jennifer told Collider. “There was the one when we wrapped the film in Berlin, when everyone was there and I said goodbye to everyone in the movie. And then I had a last scene, about a year later, with my nephews, which was so special. They played my children in the scene that I shot. It was amazing closure to this character who I’ve loved for so many years, and I had my blood family there. I got to say goodbye to both, at different times.”

26.

The name of the dance club the cast would hang out at after working 14-hour days is hidden in a Catching Fire scene.


Lionsgate / NBC

“This is the scene where we’re going into the tunnel with my beautiful costume,” Josh said on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. “Here you see ‘PDL-736’ — what that stands for actually is ‘Ponce De Leon-736,’ which is actually the address of this underground hip-hop club we used to go to in Atlanta while we were filming. It was called MJQ. It’s pretty awesome.”

27.

Ed Sheeran tried to get his songs on the Catching Fire soundtrack but was rejected.


Karwai Tang / WireImage / Getty Images

Ed revealed that the three songs he pitched and submitted for the Catching Fire soundtrack got rejected. He also admitted that he pitched his songs for the Twilight soundtracks and was also rejected.

His close friend Taylor Swift ended up having better luck. She cowrote two songs for the soundtracks, including “Safe & Sound” and “Eyes Open.” 

28.

Lenny Kravitz had no idea what The Hunger Games was before joining the cast, and he didn’t even have to audition.


Lionsgate / Everett Collection

“Gary [Ross] saw Precious and said that he liked the character of Nurse John, so he thought I’d be right for the role in Hunger Games, since Cinna is somebody who is looking out for somebody and is a support figure, too,” Lenny told Interview magazine. “He said, ‘Hi, I’m making this movie called The Hunger Games. I think you’d be great. If you want it, you’ve got the part.’ No audition.

“I was really flattered, but I had not read the book. So I downloaded it. I couldn’t stop reading because I was captured by the story. So I finished the book and called him back and said, ‘I’d love to do it.’”

29.

When filming the proposal scene between Peeta and Katniss, Josh actually split his pants wide open.


Lionsgate / Everett Collection

”I have proposed to Katniss,” Josh told MTV. “It was good. Actually, funny story: When we shot it, the actual proposal itself is done where you don’t hear what we’re saying, so I was just saying gibberish while I was proposing to her on one knee. The very first time I went to get down on one knee, my pants ripped right down the crotch.”

30.

Jennifer actually had to eat raw fish while filming, and we’re not talking about sushi.


Lionsgate / Everett Collection

“I had to eat a raw fish,” said Jennifer. “And not like a sushi raw fish. I held a fish and had to eat it. And for the record, it tastes exactly how it smells. [The crew] kept saying it’s sushi and I am like, ‘I am beholding it and I don’t like fish. But no, I don’t care, give me some soy sauce on it and give me some rice.’”

31.

Jena Malone credits the bad day she was having before her audition for why she got the role of Johanna.


Lionsgate / Everett Collection

“Before the audition, I was like, Fuck, I’m so not an angry person. I mean, I can do intimidating, or whatever, a little bit,” Jena told Vulture. “But I’m much more of a happy-go-lucky, make-everyone-feel-comfortable [person]. Anger’s not something you can fake. It’s something that channels through you, out of nowhere. It’s a hard thing to control. So I was like, Fuck, this is going to be a little complicated, and I don’t wanna go in there and give him something fake and ridiculous. And so, I don’t know what happened, but the morning I woke up, everything started pissing me off. My alarm didn’t go off right; someone called me at 5 in the morning. I got out of bed on the wrong side of the bed. And I was like, Whoa, whoa, whoa, what’s happening?‘”

32.

Jennifer was so terrified of singing “The Hanging Tree” in front of everyone that she cried.


Lionsgate / Everett Collection

“She was horrified to sing,” Francis Lawrence told the Radio Times. “She cried a little bit in the morning before [the scene]. She’d probably tell you it was her least favorite day [on set].” Francis revealed that Jennifer told him that she’s insecure about her voice. “She’ll probably never really understand it because she’s so sensitive about the singing,” he said, “but she did it, and she did it all day … and she hated me for making her do it all day … but she did, and it’s great.”

33.

No CGI was used after Philip Seymour Hoffman’s untimely death.


Lionsgate / Everett Collection

Philip died in 2014 before production wrapped for Mockingjay — Part 2, and Francis, the film’s director, was adamant about using careful discretion while figuring out how to finish the film and still honor the great actor. After Philip’s death, “there was a change to the shooting schedule, giving the cast shorter working days to allow time for mourning. A small amount of digital trickery, using existing footage of the actor, was used to disguise his absence,” according to the Guardian. As for his final lines, they were put in a letter and read by Woody Harrelson’s character.

34.

Some of the consoles used in Mockingjay were used in other major films.


Lionsgate / Everett Collection

A lot of the control room consoles you see in Mockingjay — Part 1 and Part 2 were originally created for the Mission Control Room in Apollo 13 (1995). The console props were also used in the Mercury Mission Control set in Hidden Figures (2016).

35.

And finally, Jena filmed the notorious strip scene in a real Atlanta hotel elevator, where the set wasn’t closed off, and a random hotel guest ended up seeing her naked.


Lionsgate

The film assistant working on the scene accidentally pressed the button to the wrong floor, where an unsuspecting hotel guest happened to be waiting. “I finally got all of the timing bits down,” Jena told USA Today. “And as I turned to go, the elevator doors opened. And there was a guy holding two cups of coffee from Starbucks trying to get onto the elevator. I just walked out. I was like, ‘OK, keep going!’ And he was totally unfazed. It’s like me, naked in all of Johanna’s glory, and then Woody Harrelson, Jen and Josh, and the camera operator behind me. It was the best moment of my life.”





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