Francis Lawrence Dishes on ‘Catching Fire’ and Casting Finnick Odair

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francislawrence-catchingfire-012213Francis Lawrence had some big shoes to fill when it was announced that he would be taking over for Gary Ross to direct The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.

The first movie was a huge success and the series has a devoted fanbase, but it looks like Francis will be bringing his own style to the sequel and we can’t wait to see it! The director recently sat down with MTV to talk about the huge task and casting one of the most crucial roles to the film – Finnick.

“I liked what Gary [Ross] did a lot, but I have a different style than he does,” Lawrence told MTV. “So it was very easy for me to come in the room and sit down with the people involved in the movie and sort of say, ‘Here’s what I like about what Gary did that I would latch on to and hold onto and embrace, and here’s the way I would do it differently.’ The trickier thing, honestly for me, was sort of stepping into a world, and there’s crew members that were on the first movie, obviously an entire cast, all the people that are returning that I inherited. I was nervous about what they were going to feel… I think everybody in general was really gracious and worked really hard and ended up being really fun to work with. I think there were a couple of people that were really bummed that Gary wasn’t doing it, and it had less to do with the choice of me coming on than just Gary not doing it. They signed on with Gary; they’re friends with Gary; they like Gary. And I think there was definitely some sadness there.”

Lawrence also had part in casting somewhat fresh face Sam Claflin as the hunky but tortured Finnick from District 4. While some might not be convinced that Sam can pull it off, Lawrence begs to differ. “[Claflin] is very athletic, which is great. He’s in great shape. He’s very charismatic.” He continued, “But I was also looking in the long term. There’s kind of a rouge-like quality to him in this book. And long term, he’s actually an emotional character and a very loyal character and a character who’s in love; a character who experienced quite a lot of sadness. And he was really able to tap into that, as well as being really charming and sexy and handsome as hell.”

Catching Fire heads to the tropics this time around which definitely provided some issues.”The arena stuff is pretty tricky… just because the sort of center of the arena where the cornucopia exists and the water and the spokes. The circular beach with the jungle around it doesn’t exist, so we have to sort of piece it all together,” he explained. “And you know even though shooting in Hawaii sounds like a lot of fun, it’s pretty tricky when you’re in the beach and waves and tides. Our set got washed away one day by the tide, and then… shooting in the jungle where there’s bugs and mud and rain. The days are short, so you don’t have much time, and you’re starting to lug around 100-pound IMAX cameras.”

And while we want to see everything, some stuff won’t be making the cut. “There’s sequences that are cut. There’s still some stuff that’s missing that I haven’t seen yet, just because there is a lot of footage and because we’re doing six-day weeks it was really tricky for [the film editor] to completely keep up with us as we went along. There’s a fair amount cut, but I haven’t sat down and watched it front to back.”

We want it all! Fingers crossed for an extended cut on DVD! Check out more of the interview here.

Are you excited for Catching Fire? The movie hits theaters November 21, 2013.