Liam Hemsworth talks about playing Gale in The Hunger Games and how he might cope in a similar situation and world environment. He also discusses what the role means for his career and keeping a level-head.
What did you think when you first saw The Hunger Games?
Liam Hemsworth: I was nervous as hell to see it for the first time because everyone was building it up so much. I really didn't want it to suck. But now that I've seen it, I'm very happy with it and very, very proud of it.
Presumably there's always that little bit of wariness on set that it could go wrong. Were you fairly confident while filming it?
Liam Hemsworth: There were too many extremely passionate people around it for it to be bad. Gary Ross is such an amazing director and I think we all felt comfortable enough to really trust in him and his vision was, I think, perfect. It really captured what Suzanne Collins was trying to do. And she was also such a big part of writing the script and her opinion was always very much valued. She wasn't just pushed aside and didn't have a say in anything. She was always a part of the process.
When Harry Potter was being filmed, JK Rowling reportedly gave a lot of back notes. Did Suzanne provide anything like that?
Liam Hemsworth: Not to me. I spoke to her on the phone before we started shooting and she told me a little bit about my character and I told her what I thought.
When it comes to the political nature of the film, Donald Sutherland has been quoted recently as saying that he hopes that it inspires people to be a little rebellious. Is that the same for you?
Liam Hemsworth: Yeah, I think a big part of my character is that he's so passionate and outspoken, at least to Katniss, about not siding with these games. He doesn't agree with them in anyway. I think if I was in that position I'd be doing the same thing. I'm an ambassador for the Australian Childhood Foundation, which is about protecting children who are getting abused. And this is child abuse in this and I feel very strongly about that. I'd be doing exactly what Gale [my character] is doing and trying to find a way around it and a way to fight back.
So, you're hoping that people take something like that away from the movie - to be more aware politically and to say when things are wrong?
Liam Hemsworth: Yeah, I think it has very, very strong messages and child abuse is a big thing. So, if people can take something like that away from it then it's a bonus.
How do you think you would have fared as [Josh Hutcherson's character] Peeta?
Liam Hemsworth: I don't know. When I read the books I always related to Gale more so. And when I read the script it was always for Gale.
Are you an angry man?
Liam Hemsworth: Am I an angry man? I think Gale is extremely passionate about not being a part of these games and I think I'd be doing the same thing.
If Gale has been picked to take part in the games, how do you think he would have fared?
Liam Hemsworth: I think the arena is completely unpredictable and you can never really tell what's going to happen. But he's a pretty well-rounded guy, pretty knowledgeable about being out in the wilderness, so I think he'd do OK.
When casting is first announced on popular books such as these, there can sometimes be an uproar among fans about who is playing the roles they love. Did you get any of that?
Liam Hemsworth: I think everyone was a bit weird about me and Josh because the way it's written, we pretty much both swapped hair colour and physical attributes. I generally don't read anything on the internet and try not to. But hopefully everyone is pleased.
Have you had any interesting run-ins with fans so far?
Liam Hemsworth: I've had a few marriage proposals and prom date proposals... a few interesting things like that. But it's been really fun to turn up to places and see so many people waiting, who have been waiting for so long and they're so excited about it. It's really fun to be a part of it all.
In the story, Gale asks Katniss to run away with him. How do you think you'd cope surviving in the woods? Do you have any outdoor camping experience?
Liam Hemsworth: I'm pretty outdoors-y. My family used to live in the hills in the middle of nowhere, pretty much. We literally used to have bow and arrows and air rifles and were throwing knives. We would spend all day in the forest. So, I think I'd do OK for a little while and hopefully I'd be able to catch rabbits and things like that.
Do you look for a girl who has the same kind of outdoors-y attitude?
Liam Hemsworth: Yeah, it's a good attitude to have. The outdoors is a good place.
Have you been given any advice on how to handle the craziness that might come with your new level of fame?
Liam Hemsworth: I think a good thing to always remember is to just keep your head on straight and don't lose your feet. It's what most people tell me. I've very fortunate to come from a great family who are extremely supportive of me and I'll always have them to fall back on. I also surround myself with good people who keep me me and bring the best out of me. I don't generally hang out with crazy people.
The marketing has opted against going for the love triangle element and focused instead on Katniss' bravery. How do you feel about the effort to get men into the cinema as well as women?
Liam Hemsworth: I think it's great that you have a young woman who is the most courageous character in the books and I'm all about it. I'm a guy and I'm a fan of the books and I think the movie is one of the most powerful films I've seen. I think regardless of whether it's a girl or a guy you have so many extremely strong characters in these books that you care about. They're going through a horrific situation and you want to see them get out of that. So, I don't think it really matters. I think more power to women... it's great.
Moving forward to the other two books, which scenes in those would you be excited or intimidated about tackling?
Liam Hemsworth: There's a lot of pretty crazy stuff in the third one! The third book is wild and crazy and that to be a movie would be interesting. That's where the whole uprising and the rebellion is, so if we get to shoot that...
Did you have any insights into how the violence was going to be handled in the movie? Was it a condition of you signing up not to make it too violent or not watered down?
Liam Hemsworth: I think you feel for the characters. Most of these kids going into this arena are scared and don't want to be in there. There are a select few who are there because it's glorified. But the rest of the violence it's not glorified in any way. When you watch it, you're not going to go 'hurrah' when someone gets killed. It's pretty horrific. It's young children who are really scared, so you feel for them.
The reaping scene is incredible. What was the atmosphere like on set that day? You have a lot of children present...
Liam Hemsworth: It was 100 degrees and literally the first shot of the day was at 10am and on action it was like 'action... and cut' because a young extra had kind of collapsed on the ground. And that proceeded to happen throughout [laughs].
Interview: Rob Carnevale Photo: Lionsgate