With his tall stature and Austrailian accent, people automatically noticed Liam Hemsworth as he entered the room at the Phoenix Ritz-Carlton Hotel.
During a roundtable interview to promote his latest movie “The Hunger Games,” the actor held everyone’s attention with his thoughtful answers about preparing for the movie, relating to his character, Gale, and why being a part of “The Hunger Games” was so exciting.
Q: Where did you draw most of the inspiration for your character?
LH: I used the books a lot. It’s great to be able to have three books (where) you get to see the whole character’s arc. Then I just keep to the script as much as I can. I read all three books before we started shooting and before I met with anyone. When we were shooting, I was just focusing on the script. I didn’t go back to the books too much because it’s too confusing.
Q: What’s the best part of being in a production of this size?
LH: Everything. As an actor, I’m not looking for whether it’s big or small. I’m looking for characters that I relate to in some way or stories I think are interesting.
I’m trying to find directors and writers that are trying to create something new. These stories just have such strong characters that people care about and with any great story you need characters that people will care about.
Q: In what ways do you feel you personally relate to your character in the film?
LH: I feel like Gale is an extremely passionate person, and he doesn’t want to side with this evil and doesn’t want to be a part of these games, and he’s trying to find a way to stop them and get away from it.
I think that if I were in his position, I would be pretty much the same thing. I completely disagree with what those games are.
I’m actually an ambassador for the Australian Childhood Foundation, which is all about protecting kids from getting abused and stopping kids from getting abused, so I relate to this character.
Q: What have you learned about yourself during this journey?
LH: I’m on kind of a whirlwind right now. It’s been weird (because) I haven’t ever promoted something quite as big as this before. I’m very proud of the film.
I think it’s one of the strongest I’ve seen and one of the most powerful films. So I’m very happy to be where I am. Very fortunate.
Q: How did you prepare for the role?
LH: There’s not too much action for my character in this book, but it was just stripping down and losing a lot of weight, eating a lot less. I trained for about a month before we started shooting and (was) just sweating every day.
When we started shooting, I stopped training, but still ate very minimally. Obviously when you’re on set, you need to eat a little more because you need to work and stay alive, but I did lose quite a bit of weight.
Q: Did the cast have any sort of bonding exercises before the film?
LH: I didn’t get to shoot with most of the other actors. Most of my stuff was with Jennifer (Lawrence). She’s great. I got along with her from the very first read. She’s a very easy person to get along with, a very easy person to work with.
I think I expected her to be a very straight-edge person, very serious. She’s a great actress, but completely unpredictable at all times. You never really know what she’s talking about or what she’s going to say.
She’s very fun to work with — a very professional and extremely talented actress.
Q: What was the best day on set?
LH: The whole thing was pretty great. I was really excited to work with Gary Ross. I’ve been a big fan of him since “Pleasantville,” and to work with a director that’s been doing it for so long and to see that they’re still so passionate and so happy to turn up to work every day is really cool.
Q: Do you have a favorite memory or a funny story from the set?
LH: Me and Josh (Hutcherson) went to Kentucky for a weekend. He’s from Kentucky. I don’t know if you’ve heard, but we got White Castle, and we played basketball after eating a number of burgers, and we threw up together. That was a bonding experience.
Q: Did you have a particular favorite scene to film?
LH: Everything was pretty great. Me and Jennifer got to shoot out in the woods in Nashville, up in the mountains in summertime. There wasn’t too much to complain about. It was a pretty fun place to shoot.
Q: How are you preparing for all of the attention that this movie is going to bring to you?
LH: It’s exciting and pretty nerve-wracking at the same time to be out there and doing all this, but it’s great. I feel very fortunate to be a part of something so special. I really, really am behind the movie, and I think it’s something special.
“The Hunger Games” is in theaters Friday, March 23.
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