‘Hunger Games’ Suspense Kicked Into High Gear In 2011

The film might not hit theaters until next year, but casting announcements and exclusive interviews got fans worked up for March release.

For the millions of fans who have been eagerly awaiting a film adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ best-seller “The Hunger Games,” 2011 gave them even more to be eager about as details trickled out about the movie, which is due in March.

We at MTV News have been as caught up in the frenzy as everyone else. And along the way, we’ve been able to speak with the major players involved in the “Games,” gleaning the juiciest details from the likes of Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson.

Back in January, before casting was solidified, Hemsworth told MTV News he’d read the script and that he could actually see himself in the role of Peeta. After Hemsworth won the role of Gale instead, we chatted up his older brother and fellow actor Chris Hemsworth, who revealed that he helped Liam prep for his big audition by reading the role of Katniss. “I did. Swear to God,” he said. “I read that. Put my girly American accent on.”

In May, we had our first “Hunger Games”-centricchat with Jennifer Lawrence . She discussed fans’ initial protests over her blond hair , which quieted after she dyed it, along with the intense hours of archery training she went through to become as convincingly handy with a bow and arrow as Katniss is.

“It’s lots of training, but the training is actually really fun,” she said. “I’ve done archery for about six weeks, rock climbing, tree climbing and combat and running and vaulting,” she said. “Also yoga and things like that to stay cat-like.”

We also caught up with some of the film’s supporting actors. Lenny Kravitz, who is ready to further prove his acting chops in the role of sympathetic District 12 stylist Cinna, said he’s doing his homework by immersing himself in all Collins’ books. Elizabeth Banks was a bit more cagey in revealing any details about her transformation into pink-haired, type-A Effie Trinket, but she did admit that she and co-star Woody Harrelson have chemistry.

Harrelson, who plays alcoholic Hunger Games survivor Haymitch Abernathy, praised Lawrence’s portrayal of Katniss and revealed that his character’s hairstyle was inspired by his own brother. “I was like, ‘OK, let’s get a wig. Let’s do the Brett Harrelson hair,’ ” he said of the long and slightly shaggy style. “It’s kind of cool. I really liked the look. It’s a fun character, and I think it’s going to be a good movie.”

Fellow supporting player Stanley Tucci , a.k.a. the blue-haired Caesar Flickerman, echoed Harrelson’s sentiments about Lawrence’s performance. “She was amazing,” he said. “They were all amazing. She’s just so good and so mature at such a young age. It was really fun. Really fun. And [director] Gary Ross, he’s great.”

We didn’t have to take Tucci’s word for it, as we also sat down with Ross for an exclusive interview surrounding our debut of the “Games” teaser trailer back in August. The “Seabiscuit” and “Pleasantville” helmer took us through his detailed plans for the film and the challenges of filming.

And we finally stole a few moments with Peeta Mellark himself, Josh Hutcherson, who took us through his grueling audition process and the anxious wait for the news of his casting, why he was “so right” for Peeta and his excitement for the fans to see the finished product.

“It’s exciting to hear people are that interested in something you’re doing, so it’s a little nerve-racking, but I’m onboard,” he said. “The fans for ‘The Hunger Games,’ they’re die-hard. They’re the best fans in the world, so I’m really excited for them to see the movie.”

Check out everything we’ve got on “The Hunger Games.”

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