For those of us who’ve been following each and every production detail of “The Hunger Games,” the casting process was perhaps the most intriguing element to dissect and overanalyze.
One of the most interesting casting announcements was Lenny Kravitz landing the role of sensitive, sympathetic stylist Cinna. When MTV News caught up with Kravitz recently, we asked the Grammy-winning musician-turned-actor to tell us how he ended up with the role.
“How hard [did I go] after it? I was on the other end of the phone, that’s about it,” he said. “I wish I had a great, struggling story, but I was working on my album when Gary Ross called and said, ’I’d like you to do this movie, “The Hunger Games,” ’ and so the first thing I had to ask was, ’What is “Hunger Games”?’ because I honestly did not know. He told me and I downloaded the book that night, read it, called him back promptly the next day and said, ’Thank you very much, I’ll be there.’ ”
Kravitz said Ross was inspired to contact him after seeing his performance in “Precious.”
“He liked the performance in ’Precious’ and thought that Nurse John and Cinna shared some similar qualities as far as being nurturing characters, and that sold him,” Kravitz said. “So I was very fortunate.”
What sold Kravitz on accepting the role was what also made a lot of us obsessive fans of “The Games”: author Suzanne Collins’ captivating story and relatable, respectable characters.
“Here I am, I’m recording all day in the studio, I’m tired, it’s probably 2 in the morning, I’m finished. I pick up the computer, and already your eyes are tired, and I’m starting to read this thing. And I was so tired, and I didn’t want to keep reading, I wanted to put it down, but I couldn’t,” he recalled. “It really kept my attention, the story kept building. That sold me right there: the storytelling. It really all comes down to that.”
Although readers of the book came to know a more flamboyant version of the character as created by Collins, Kravitz and Ross decided to tone him down just a bit.
“One of my first questions to Gary Ross was, ’How far do you want to go with this?’ and at the end of our conversation, we both agreed that it would be more interesting to make him more subdued, to play him more like [fashion icons] Yves Saint Laurent or Tom Ford, more classic,” he said. “[Cinna] wears his waistcoats and his flats, and all his expression comes out in his creations. He’s got his little bit of gold eye shadow, but yeah, he’s pretty subdued.”
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