‘Catching Fire’: How Sam Claflin Captured Finnick’s ‘Sexual Tension’

"[T]here's a real deep emotional side" to the character, director Francis Lawrence told MTV News at Comic-Con.

SAN DIEGO“Catching Fire” isn’t even completely finished yet and Francis Lawrence is already thinking ahead. The director told MTV News at San Diego Comic-Con that although he’s only just about to lock down a final cut of the “Hunger Games” sequel, he is juggling those duties with pre-production on the final two “Mockingjay” films.

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, though — “Catching Fire” is going to be great. “I’m really satisfied with the movie,” Lawrence said. “The people who have seen it have really responded to it. I think it’s really emotional; I think the scope is growing in the right way. In terms of it being a steppingstone to the third and the fourth movie, it’s really working. I think the performances are really great — I love the original cast; I love the new cast. I’m excited by a lot of it.”

In particular, Lawrence says he was pleased by Sam Claflin’s performance as fan favorite character Finnick Odair, the heartthrob tribute who returns to the Hunger Games in the Quarter Quell. “Finnick’s an interesting character. At first he feels like a bit of a flirt and there’s a little bit of sexual tension, but really you kind of fall in love with the guy and you see that there’s a real deep emotional side to him,” he Lawrence said. “It’s one of the reasons I really hired him in the first place was that it’s where his character goes in the next couple of stories and I just think he did a fantastic job.”

As for “Mockingjay,” Lawrence will probably be relieved once “Catching Fire” hits theaters on Nov. 22. “The most daunting thing about diving into 3 and 4 right now is just that we’re overlapping with the finishing of part 2,” he said. “The stories are great; the source material is great; there’s room for some more casting opportunities, which is fantastic so I’m excited about that.”

Ultimately, it will be very satisfying to see the series through to its conclusion. “To finish out the stories is a really good thing,” Lawrence said. “I think quite honestly the last book sells what the trilogy is really about and the consequence of war, and I think that’s what makes [the books] important.”