Last we heard Lionsgate was going offer Francis Lawrence to direct ‘Catching Fire’ which is currently scheduled for a 22 November 2013 release date in United States of America.
*WARNING: Potential ‘Catching Fire’ spoilers in this post.*
With the role of who shall be the director for ‘Catching Fire’ off our mind when Gary Ross left, we noticed Entertainment Weekly has started exploring potential candidates to play the many new characters who will make their debut in ‘Catching Fire’ such as Finnick Odair, Johanna Mason, Plutarch Heavensbee, Beetee, Wiress and Mags just to name a few.
Let’s start with Finnick Odair shall we? Here’s what Entertainment Weekly has to say:
Finnick is incredibly handsome. Really, he’s practically a joke of physical perfection — inCatching Fire, Collins describes him as a muscular, tan, bronze-haired dude with sea green eyes. So he’s either a merman or an Australian. But unlike Australians, Finnick’s beauty masks a bleak inner life: After winning his Hunger Games, he makes a life for himself as a high-class prostitute in the Capitol. It’s a tricky doucheboat-with-a-heart-of-gold role, requiring an actor who can be threatening, but also melancholy, but who can also pull off Finnick’s Caligula-worthy “Golden Net” outfit, which seems destined to test Catching Fire‘s PG-13 rating more than any kid-killing montage.
In Catching Fire, Finnick is about 24. But since the teenage Katniss and Peeta are played by Jennifer Lawrence (21) and Josh Hutcherson (19), it seems likely that Lionsgate would be willing to stretch the age range into the late ’20s or early ’30s. It seems to me that there’s one actor in Hollywood that’d be perfect for the role…but unfortunately, Chris Hemsworth happens to be the older brother of Liam, and it’s a well-known fact that the space-time continuum will implode if two Hemsworths appear in the same movie together. Ryan Gosling would be good, but it’s hard to see him taking a supporting role in a franchise picture. That’s also true ofChanning Tatum — unfortunate, since Tatum has lately been refining a Finnick-esque mixture of handsome-man bravado and sly humor.
More likely, the makers of Catching Fire will go for lesser-known (and cheaper) potential Finnicks. Twilight costar Kellan Lutz and I Am Number Four escapee Alex Pettyfer both have the ripped underwear-model look down, although its unclear if either actor has the gravitas to pull off Finnick’s darker edges. If they wanted to play Finnick as a slightly older character,Luke Evans seems like he could play both Finnick’s caddish and sensitive sides. With a featured role in the upcoming Hobbit duology, a big role in the Hunger Games sequels could turn Evans into a megastar. EW’s Tanner Stransky suggested throwing Grant Gustin fromGlee into the mix.
All good choices, but if you ask me, the best pick for Finnick is another TV actor — Ryan Kwanten, Jason Stackhouse on True Blood. He’s a bit older than book-Finnick, but he can do the rakish-soulful thing pretty well. Anyhow, everyone in Hollywood is older than we think, so don’t hold that against him. Stop being so ageist towards old people, weirdo!
After Finnick Odair, no doubt, the next highly anticipated casting got to be Johanna Mason. Let’s look at Entertainment Weekly‘s choices:
Johanna is a tricky character to pin down. She won her own Hunger Games using a bit of guile — “by very convincingly portraying herself as weak and helpless so that she would be ignored.” But Johanna isn’t just a stealth assassin. She’s also an axe-murdering warrior from Lumberjackland, possessed of what Suzanne Collins describes as “a wicked ability to murder.” Subterfuge or not, there are elements of free-spiritedness to Johanna: The first time Katniss and Peeta meet her, Johanna strips down to nothing but her green slippers. (That might just be how you say hello in District 7. District 7 is so weird, you guys.) Collins doesn’t offer much in the way of physical description of Johanna. She’s got spiky hair and wide-set brown eyes. She’s roughly in her early 20s, and since she’s supposed to be a bit older than Katniss, let’s say that the actress playing Johanna can be anywhere from 1 to 10 years older than Jennifer Lawrence, giving us a rough age range of 22 to 32.
When I read the books, I was visualizing a Michelle Rodriguez-ish character — think Rodriguez circa S.W.A.T. – which unfortunately describes absolutely no other actress, since the finest engineers in Hollywood have struggled for over a decade to invent anyone else who can play the Michelle Rodriguez character. (Rodriguez is probably a bit old for the part. Additionally, if she’s cast, she may accidentally tear off Josh Hutcherson’s head.) Kristen Bellhas reportedly campaigned for the role, an idea which would have seemed much cooler before her curve-ball career turn into rom-coms. Still, Bell’s not a bad choice — there’s something of Johanna Mason in Uda Bengt, the half-fascist captain of the Valhalla Catering team that Bell played on Party Down. Likewise, Naya Rivera has been playing a very Johanna-like character on Glee. (It’s not hard to imagine Santana wielding an axe.)
While we’re talking cheap up-and-coming TV actresses who wouldn’t mind taking a showy supporting role in a big franchise, Emilia Clarke‘s dragon queen on Game of Thrones has the wide-set eyes, the ability to balance internal struggle with external badassery, and a pro-nudity policy. Margarita Levieva had a recurring role on Revenge as a bananagrams-crazy homicidal maniac. Nikita star Lyndsy Fonseca came up frequently in initial conversations about casting Katniss, but Fonseca was always a little too old (and maybe too glam) to play the girl from District 12 — it’s worth throwing her into the mix, if only because mentioning Lyndsy Fonseca in a post about The Hunger Games makes me feel like it’s 2010 all over again. And speaking of 2010, that’s the year that Friday Night Lights star Jurnee Smollett became Jurnee Smollett-Bell, and besides a supporting role in the gone and forgotten The Defenders, she’s been mostly absent from the screen. Maybe that should change.
Then again, maybe focusing on TV actresses is too limiting. After all, Johanna is one of the showiest roles, and she’s a presence in both Catching Fire and Mockingjay — which means the actress playing Johanna will be in two or three or four or even five of the biggest movies of the next few years. (No doubt in 2016, we’ll all be saying, “Man, Mockingjay Part 3 is so depressing, it makes Mockingjay Part 2 look like Mockingjay Part 1!”) So maybe the better comparison here is to a role like Black Widow in Iron Man 2 — so we should be looking at an established movie actress who could use some franchise credentials. Mary Elizabeth Winstead has done a few action movies, although she doesn’t quite have the Johanna thousand-yard stare. That’s not a problem for Rooney Mara, whose Lisbeth Salander in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo would fit right into the post-apocalypse of The Hunger Games. As a left-field choice, I’d like to throw in Gemma Arterton, who managed to seem evil in two movies where she was nominally playing the heroine love interest (Clash of the Titans andPrince of Persia. Wow, 2010 again!)
Still, my personal choice might seem even a bit more left field, at least in the sense that it’s as far away from Michelle Rodriguez as humanly possible. What about Mia Wasikowska? The young Australian actress has mostly avoided big Hollywood productions ever since Tim Burton forced her to make faces at green screens in the absurdly popular Alice in Wonderland, and she’s never once done a movie that seems to indicate she could handle carrying an axe. But Wasikowska has a peculiar quality that strikes me as perfect for Johanna — she can seem simultaneously tortured, headstrong, and self-loathing. (Just go back and watch her incredible performance in season 1 of In Treatment.) True, Wasikowska also has a slightly demure Paltrowvian quality, but that could just play into the double nature of Johanna: She looks unthreatening right up until she buries an axe in your stomach.
Who do you think should play Finnick Odair, Johanna Mason, Plutarch Heavensbee, Beetee, Wiress, Mags others?
‘The Hunger Games’, rated PG13, was released on 22 March 2012 and is now available in all cinemas islandwide.