The “Hunger Games” film franchise is set to wrap this November with “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2,” but before that, cast and filmmakers from the Jennifer Lawrence-headlined series joined to meet fans at Comic-Con International in San Diego with a high-profile Hall H panel.
The panel began with about a hundred individuals dressed all in white beating large, ominous drums. It slowly became quicker and more fierce, and then came a message from District 13 on the overhead screens. It showed soldiers dressed in white with Jennifer Lawrence’s character dressed in red. It asked that people stand with District 13 for freedom.
The lights then came up and Conan O’Brien appeared onstage. He shouted, “My name is Conan O’Brien and I am not in the ‘Hunger Games.'”
Conan served as the moderator for the panel and began introducing those present: Director Francis Lawrence, Producer Nina Jacobson, and actors Jennifer Lawrence, Willow Shields, Josh Hutcherson, and Liam Hemsworth.
Jacobson began by talking about the series of the films and the challenges making them. She explained how they tried to do justice to the books and that she wished there were more stories to tell.
Lawrence said about this film, “This is where we see Katniss getting back into action. She was a bit sidelined last time, but now we get to see her go after Snow.” He then revealed that they brought a full trailer to show everyone, and it began to play.
The trailer contained pieces of footage previously revealed in teasers, but it also showed much more of the challenges facing Katniss and her army. It gave us hints about some of the traps the group has to manage, and we got to see one of the strange creatures they’ll have to fight. There was also an interesting and mysterious cat-person near the end of the trailer.
Conan then questioned Hutcherson about what fans can expect with regards to Peeta in this film, considering his character was left in a bad place at the end of the last movie. “The Capital has turned him into a psychotic weapon against Katniss, but we’ll get to see them working to rehabilitate him and bring him back in this film.”
Shields got the next question, and Conan asked how her character and Katniss have changed in their sisterly relationship since the first film. She responded, “In every film, you get to see their relationship evolve. In ‘Mockingjay Part I,’ you get to see Prim be there for Katniss, which is really interesting.to watch. And Katniss kind of needs that.”
Conan then chimed in to Shields, “I’ve got to admit, I was rewatching the last film and I got so mad at you for going out to get that cat. Aaargh! The rest of you, just go to #ConanCatHate.”
Jacobson said one of the things that felt satisfying to her was that Katniss grabs her own destiny in this film. She’s been led around by different people in each film, but this time, she’s in control and comes into her own.
Conan next asked what it felt like to wrap this series. All cast members mentioned it was emotional. Lawrence added, “There’s no way to say this without starting weird rumors, but that last night we held each other and slept like puppies.”
A question from social media was then read by Conan for Liam from “HemsworthHugs.” It asked, “If you could meet actually meet Gale, what would you say to him?”
Hemsworth shrugged his shoulders and chuckled. “There’s plenty of other fish in the sea, mate.”
After this, Conan asked the cast if there were any props they wanted to sneak off the set, like Katniss’ crossbow. Lawrence quickly responded with a smile, “It was a standard bow, not a crossbow. I didn’t spend months and months of training to be called a crossbower.”
Another person from social media asked the cast if they could to the mockingjay whistle together. They all laughed, and Hemsworth replied, “Every time I try to do it, it comes out like the X-Files theme song.”
Conan then allowed the fans present to ask questions. The first individual up to the microphone asked what it was like to film the story’s epilogue.
“It was really fun,” Lawrence answered. “We shot in the same field as when we began the movie, and I cried. Josh was playing with my nephew and I was like, ‘Aaahhh.’ Liam wasn’t there though like the beginning, so that sucked.”
Another audience member asked if Lawrence is anything like her character. The actress laughed. “Nothing about us is similar. She’s brave and I’m an actress, but I wish I could be more like her.”
The next fan to the microphone said, “There is a lot of material between the climax and the epilogue. How do you adapt that for a film?”
Jacobson said the main thing was to stay with Katniss. As opposed to the book, a lot of the information is given through news and other perspectives, but they wanted to make sure to give true emotional resolutions to her and all the characters.
Following this, the panel was asked, “What are you going to miss most about filming these stories?”
“You’re looking at it,” Hutcherson said. “For me, it’s been the most incredible moviemaking experience. There were hundreds of people on this film, and it was great to meet and work with them and I’m going to miss that family.”
For the final question, a fan asked Lawrence, “How did you say goodbye to Katniss Everdeen?” The actress’ response summed up her entire experience on the film.
“I don’t really feel like it happened yet. These movies really did change my life, and the people who I made these movies with are still with me. I don’t think I ever really will say goodbye – they’ll always be a part of me.”
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