You’ve has a chance to work with some strong directors Debra Granik (Winter’s Bone) and Jodie Foster (The Beaver) how does Gary Ross stack up? What’s his style?
JL: “He doesn’t have one. He can communicate with every single actor. He can make anything work. I’m better with technical stuff, just tell me what you don’t like and I’ll fix it. Don’t tell me about what’s happening internally – that doesn’t work for me. Just tell me what’s right and what’s wrong, and he was very technical with me. With others he might give more emotional guidance, he could do that.
He can work with any actor, he can communicate with the lighting director. He had a very specific vision and he never once gave that up. Which is hard when you’re doing a film, but to his credit he did it and the studio was amazing. He’s strong and he’s brilliant, but he listens to everybody. He’s artistically free.”
You said that you like technical direction, is that something you consider when you take on projects now?
JL: “It’s something I’ve always looked at when I look at scripts. You can love a script but if it doesn’t have a good director it won’t be that.”
And do you hope that they can adapt to your way of working?
JL: “No, I like to adapt to their way of working. I love doing that. Each director’s so different and you have to adapt to a new way of doing something. That’s amazing to me; I love that. I don’t want a director to have to work around me, I think it’s more fun to come in on their thing.”
Do you have a favorite scene in the movie?
JL: “Yeah, the scene when Stanley Tucci (who plays talk-show host Caesar Flickerman in the film) interviews me before I go to the games. One because it’s just hilarious to see that, but also that’s the moment that Katniss realizes it’s a game, and if she wants to win she has to play along.”
There is a sense that Katniss is playing to the camera. Do you have to be conscious of the moments where she is playing to the cameras and the audience that is observing the game and when she is being herself?
JL: “I think it was important to her to not look weak when she was on the run. Some of that would be too complicated to think about. When she does find the camera, then yes, but otherwise it was… running.”
There’s an interesting stylistic choice where the camera is all around you. Sometimes it’s from behind, which you normally don’t see. Does that change your performance? Or do you have to ignore the camera?
JL: “You can’t ever let yourself be thrown by a camera. That’s never good for an actor. So, no, that’s also trusting your director. When you’re reading the script, you want to work with someone you trust so there’s nothing to worry about.”
You’re working with veterans like Elizabeth Banks, Woody Harrelson, Stanley Tucci, and Donald Sutherland here. Is there anything you have to be cognizant of, or is there anything you learn from going toe to toe with them?
JL: “I always try to be a sponge and soak up as much as possible when I’m working with them.”
What did your sponge soak up from Woody?
JL: (Laughs) (Does Beavis laugh) “Woody is the nicest person in the entire world, and you know he’d be the exact same person no matter what his job was. He’s just that guy from Texas, he can strike up a conversation with anybody. It’s just odd to see him on a movie set. He’s just one of the most incredible actors in the world, and he almost doesn’t fit onto a set. He’s just too relaxed – he’s got no airs about him. You see him hanging out, like someone brought their really nice cousin from Texas and then all of a sudden he does backwards acting.
One time we were doing this scene where I stab a knife through his fingers and to do that you have to do everything backwards and they put it forwards in post. And so we would start and everything would go backwards and Woody said ‘I’m even doing backwards acting cause when I’m here I start to feel my desire for the jam.’ (Laughs) So he would go back and then he’d see the jam and want in. He’s full of gems like that.”
When we were talking to Liam and Josh, it was brought up that twenty years ago we probably would have seen Katniss be a guy and the love interests be women. I’m just curious from your perspective how you feel about that shift, being the strong female character at the end of this story?
JL: “It’s great because I feel like we’ve gotten to the place where we have strong female leads. We’ve got Lara Croft as the female James Bond and we have someone who’s not even the female James Bond. We have a young girl being thrown in to this situation and not knowing if she’s going to survive it. It says a lot.”
Well, to be fair, Lara Croft is very sexualized, while you can’t say your character is objectified in the same way a lot of women are in these movies.
JL: “It is great.”