FR: Firstly, I’m a huge fan of The Hunger Games ’cause I read all the books. Had you read the books, before you got the part?
SC: Before I got the part? No, no. Funnily enough, when I first went to see the first The Hunger Games, the original, I had no idea that it was a trilogy. I had no idea it was based on books. I just knew there was a big hype around – you know it was being called the new Twilight. And what have you. So I think I was curious as to what this big thing, this… You know, I was very curious. And kind of got the audition for this part of Finnick Odair. I was in Los Angeles. I remember saying ‘Who the hell is this Finnick?’ And I tried to go on Wikipedia and do as much research as possible prior to my first audition, and luckily I was kind of steered in the right direction by the casting director and the director himself. Between the moment that I was sort of offered the part and I was kind of trying to work out the smaller details as the contracts and what have you, I read the books and I read them in five days. Couldn’t quite help but turn the page and keep reading, you know, you can’t just put it down.
FR: He was my favorite character, I feel he has the biggest arc and his development is brilliant. Was he one of yours? Did he stand out for you when you were reading it? You got a good part?
SC: I mean, for me, again, like, I was kind of – yeah he definitely stuck out somewhat. But for all the wrong reasons. Very selfishly, that was the only character I really cared about. No, but the great thing about the books, um, that Suzanne Collins kind of created great arcs to each and every character. No matter, you know, from Katniss all the way down to her sister, her mother. You know each character kinda goes on a journey and I think that’s what’s so perfect about the books themselves.
FR: On the subject of Finnick, he’s quite a significant character in the story and he’s won. All the fans of the original literature are going to have a mental picture of him in their minds. You’re gonna have this well established picture in people’s minds of what Finnick should be. How do you approach portraying a character like that with such expectations already there?
SC: I mean, I have to say the pressure is on. I mean, I’m a member of Twitter and, you know, specially when it was first announced there was a huge backlash. Some positive and some very negative, you know, people were like saying they want to kill themselves, that I wasn’t anywhere near a good looking Finnick. Everyone has their own perception of what a good-looking person is. And basically, all I can do is do my best and you know it’s – you have to kinda try not reading the bad press or whatever, you know? You have to just kinda keep focusing and, you know, working hard and the moment you kind of channel all that out – you know, I just have fun really and it was hard work, it was definitely, definitely hard work, you know. I was eating chicken and asparagus twice every day, not including all the other meals I was forced to have each day and, you know, working out three times a day. I didn’t really have a life, but when I was on set you know, there was a great between the cast and the crew, you know it’s like when you’re in the middle of Hawaii – you don’t really care of what other people think. I enjoyed the moment while I was in the moment. But now, you know, I’m still reading negative feedback but I mean, what can I do? I can’t change my face.
FR: Also when you were cast as Finnick, you read the books, knowing that was going to be your part. Did you talk to the author at all for any sort of further advice on how she saw the character? Did you talk to her or the director before you hit the set?
SC: There was definitely a conversation that I had with the director. He was one of the first people I met when I first arrived in America. We had a sit-down, we talked through the script, through the novels and about the previous film. I knew that he wasn’t the director on that but we talked about the flaws and ways of improving or developing the characters’ arc. And obviously, the unfortunate thing about a film version is that they are trying to make it accessible to a younger audience. There are certain aspects you can’t include, one being, Finnick Odair wearing just the net, not covering his crotch – that was something that we couldn’t, unfortunately, include but you know, I’m scantily clad. Hopefully people will still be happy. It was quite, kind of – being able to have this kind of discussion with the director and with other cast members as well, you know, talking about how our character arc together and journey that we all go on. You know, it’s invaluable, really – you have to kind of really take that and use that and make the most of it.
FR: Was there a discussion about your accent, at all?
SC: Yeah, I mean. From the beginning I knew that I was gonna have to be doing an American accent. It’s okay. I’ve left Norwich now, I’m all cool. I have to work on it.
FR: It’s a conscious choice, isn’t it? I mean it’s quite difficult to do constantly, I imagine.
SC: Yeah, it’s – but when I was on set, there was obviously times that knowing that I would, you know, speak a lot, I would kind of try and keep the accent going when they say ‘Cut’, you know to kind of keep it in my brain. But I was also ’cause I was surrounded by Americans, that it was a lot easier to kinda come by. It wasn’t too much of an issue, I don’t think . There was a couple of moments that the director would say ‘Sam – you said that completely wrong’ ‘Oh God, sorry!’ But then, you know, that’s something that I can do in post-production and we can re-record things. Not really a big deal.
FR: We spoke about – ’cause we had a Films of the Year podcast over Christmas and I think we all loved The Hunger Games. But one thing we commented on was the very serious tone of the subject matter and what I always liked about this film was that it was very aware of its subject matter, it was very delicate, very aware of where the audience will be, mentally. When, on set, you were filming Catching Fire, is there a same sort of awareness, I mean is everyone sort of heightened to the point that they know the subject matter is delicate and they kind of have to watch or is it kind of a sort of lively, happy-go-lucky kind of place, trying to gauge the sort of the vibe that might be in or around the place during the filming of it?
SC: I’d love to say that we all took it very seriously, we were very professional – and we are, you know, when we have to be, when we need to be. When they say ‘Action’ we’re all switched on. Everyone’s at positions, everyone’s doing the right thing. However, you know, the moment they say ‘Cut’, like the in-between takes, that time we spend kinda being very mischievous, like all of us were super hyper. It was for the director to kind of take that on board. I do not envy him. As a collective, we were a nightmare but individually, I think, we were all good. But no, I mean, the subject matter is something that I personally loved. You know, I’m surprised that it kind of touched base with so many teenagers. You know it’s one of those things – it’s about kids killing each other. And you know, the books are a lot more gruesome as opposed in the first film. But they have to make it accessible to that young audience, so it’s tough. It really is tough. Kind of make the most of what they have, what they can have.
FR: You talked a little bit about your co-stars and working with some of the biggest actors in the business. Philip Seymour Hoffman – I mean, he’s in Catching Fire. Does that kinda intimidate – that must intimidate you. You just walk on the set with these – just incredible people. Does it freak you out?
SC: It does. You can’t help but let it, you know – it’s one of those things that go through you, it goes straight through you. I mean, Stanley Tucci, Woody Harrelson, Philip Seymour Hoffman. Even Jennifer Lawrence is just, you know, one golden girl and what have you. I have been lucky enough to be surrounded by some of the best actors that are living. You know, from Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz to Ian McShane. It’s ridiculous the list of names that I have worked with. But you know, I know I’m very, very lucky to be in the situation that I am. Some of my friends in drama school haven’t worked since drama school, and you know, you kind of just have to put it down to luck really.
FR: I’ve heard a rumor that whilst you were filming Snow White, you had an incident with your horse where it kinda took off on you and Chris Hemsworth came to the rescue. Now, you’ve been using a trident for the role of Finnick. So have there been any kind of close calls or horror stories whilst you’ve been filming?
SC: There really have. This is actually questionable how much I can talk about ’cause I was specifically asked not to mention some of the accidents that happened there. Let’s just say I’m a very, very clumsy person. There was fall after fall after fall – I mean we basically, me and Francis, the director, we were laughing that there will be a whole DVD extra, you know, a whole DVD on its own for the blooper reel just for me. Because every time he’d say ‘Action’, you know just before he’d let the fire, I’d slip over or I’d fall – even when I’m standing still, I’d manage to fall over so um, there were plenty of accidents. My dad would probably tell you on the private.
You can listen to the full interview HERE.