'Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1': Mahershala Ali's Wu-Tang Inspiration for Boggs

'Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1' star Mahershala Ali explains how Wu-Tang's Method Man helped inspire the movie of version of Katniss Everdeen's District 13 bodyguard, Boggs.

The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 1 Interviews Mahershala Ali

With The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 now in theaters, fans the world over are breaking down the movie version of the story and how it compares to Suzanne Collins' book series. One of the most obvious changes from the Mockingjay novel was the character of Boggs, the District 13 soldier who is President Coin's (Julianne Moore) close confidant and Katniss Everdeen's (Jennifer Lawrence) personal bodyguard.

In the books, Boggs is a gray-haired, blue-eyed aging warrior; in the Mockingjay movies, he's Mahershala Ali, best known to audiences ice-veined lobbyist Remy Danton on House of Cards.

We were in attendance at the Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 press day in NYC, and sat down with Mahershala Ali to talk about reinventing Boggs for the Hunger Games movies - including the special soundtrack that got him in the mindset of his noble soldier character, facing the brink of war:

The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 1 Mahershala Ali on set with Francis Lawrence.jpg
The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 1 Mahershala Ali on set with Director Francis Lawrence

Screen Rant: For Boggs obviously you got to reinvent this character somewhat, because it is different from the book. Can you talk about just what you  kind of put into kind of fleshing out this character and making it your own?

Mahershala Ali: Well, you know I think you have to make every character your own, you know? Because I feel like the right person gets the job. So in the book he is written another way - but actually I hadn't even thought about that until today. Because once I was cast, it was about making the best choices for revealing some truth in that scene. So as far as just making Boggs my own? Often I start with some sort of soundtrack. So I get some music, and then I find something that feels appropriate for that character, to kind of help sonically drop me into that space. I kind of got a little heavier, I lifted some weights so I felt five to seven pounds heavier than what I am on 'House of Cards.' And after that I just have to be quiet and listen and take it moment to moment.

The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 1 Interviews Mahershala Ali

SR: What was the soundtrack [to creating Boggs]? 

MA: You know what, the album I was listening to a LOT at that time in the trailer would be Method Man's 'Tical' album. Which is not particularly mastered well - which is perfect! You know? It's real kind of 2-trackish sounding, so it's real black and white and the beats and what RZA did on that album, it sounds like 'Mockingjay' to me. From Boggs' perspective it sounds like District 13.

For more of what the Mockingjay - Part 1 cast had to say, check out our other interviews:

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 is now in theaters everywhere.

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