North Texas Daily

Interview: Tributes talk “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”

Interview: Tributes talk “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”

Interview: Tributes talk “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”
November 21
13:19 2013

Preston Barta / Film Critic

One of the year’s most anticipated films, “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” opens tonight, and the North Texas Daily had the opportunity to speak to some of its “tributes.”

Playing brother and sister, Alan Ritchson (Gloss) and Stephanie Leigh Schlund (Cashmere) talked to us about stepping into their characters’ shoes, the skills they took away from the movie and the classes they would teach at UNT.

I think it’s safe to say the first film did very well, and I doubt that “Catching Fire” is going to be a misfire. But because “The Hunger Games” franchise is so massive, how do you prepare yourself for something like that?

Alan Ritchson: “I think if you try and understand the magnitude of what this is— it’s almost grown so big that it’s like its own entity— and try to wrap your head around how you get yourself involved in that, or make yourself big enough to handle that, you’ll never win. It’s just about taking it day by day.

You guys play brother and sister in the film. What sort of things do you guys do before principal photography to kind of get that chemistry going?

Stephanie Leigh Schlund: “You know it’s funny because Alan and I never actually met until the first day we started training. We didn’t know how our chemistry was going to play with another.”

Ritchson: “I pulled her hair and we fist fought [Laughs]. We were just like brother and sister.”

Schlund: “We were slightly too realistic [Laughs]. I think I lucked out with Hollywood brothers. But I think we got along great.”

Speaking of training, do you still utilize those skills, like the knife throwing skills, even though the film is over?

Schlund: “Yes. I have had many failed relationships because of it [Laughs]. Yeah. Actually it’s something that I can add to my résumé. It helps keeping up with that when going up for other roles because it’s not an asset that everyone can have at this point. The training taught us a lot about physical fitness, how to eat healthy and stay in shape. It’s a handy thing to learn and keep up with.”

Ritchson: “I like to keep my skills sharp for wherever I am— the subway, the mall— People go bananas when I start throwing knives. No. [Laughs] I actually had a really cool opportunity right after ‘Catching Fire’ to play Raphael in Michael Bay’s new ‘Teenage Mutant Turtles’ movie. I worked with not only the same team, the 87Eleven stunt team that we worked with on ‘Catching Fire,’ but the exact same guy who trained me with the dagger throwing trained me to use the sais in ‘Turtles.’ So I’ve had a really good opportunity to keep the skills up. I’ve stayed pretty handy with it. It’s cool to pick up some skills that I otherwise wouldn’t have picked up if I hadn’t done these films.”

Obviously filmmakers have to make certain cuts when writing a script that is based on a novel. There is not enough time to show everything. Plus, there are some cases where things that work in the novel can’t on film. If a screenwriter were to make a movie about your life, what kind of cuts do you think they would make?

Schlund: “Oh my God. I don’t really know how to answer that. If someone were to make a movie about my life, they would probably cut the amount of time that I spend worrying about silly things. I drive people slightly crazy because I am a perfectionist, and my way of dealing with that is to overanalyze things and stress about it. That would probably be it. I should probably edit that in real life as well [Laughs].”

Ritchson: “That’s a really cool question. I write, and that’s always the challenge when you write. Where do you begin? What are the most important things to share? For me, in my adult life, I feel like the most interesting story to tell would probably be the one that nobody in the public knows about, which is probably my family life.

I played a character in the series ‘Blue Mountain State,’ which is like a college football comedy that is very frat friendly. The college demographic was our largest. They were very passionate. A lot of people talk about how they emulate that character. In my personal opinion, and I don’t want to offend all the fans of that show. I think that is quite the antithesis of everything I believe in. It’s very different from that. I think that would make an interesting story to tell: to show the struggle to balance a private, family-centric life with a public persona that people think is so vastly different.”

You mentioned that you write. What sort of things do you write?

Ritchson: “I write screenplays, and I focus on features. I’ve covered the spectrum, but I mostly focus on comedy.”

That’s really neat. How has that changed the way you look at acting?

Ritchson: “You know, 100 percent it has. It’s taught me how to laser in on what the author’s intent is. I think that is always the goal that an actor has to do a role well. He or she has to know what the writer’s intent is— in a character, in a scene, etc. If you find out where their head is at, it can really help fuel your character.

Writing has really helped me understand other people’s material and the heart of the author.”

Lastly, if you could teach a class, what would you teach?

Ritchson: “They have classes like this, but I would teach a class on critical thinking. I feel like that is something that is lacking in the younger generation— thinking outside the box. However, there are a lot of people doing it very well. But to teach people how to think for themselves, come up with things and solutions that people have never thought of— If there is a solution to a problem that someone discovered before, maybe there is a new and better way. Just challenging people to think creatively and outside the box.”

Schlund: “For me, it would be a class that promotes imagination. I feel like in today’s society we’re becoming so strict on every rule and guideline there is. There’s really a glass ceiling. I think creativity and imagination is a gift. I think promotion of that would be awesome.”

“The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” opens in theaters tonight at 8 p.m.

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