One of the most closely watched castings in recent memory has to be the highly coveted role of Finnick Odair in “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” and in the end, “Snow White and the Huntsman” star Sam Claflin was the chosen one.
When MTV News’ Josh Horowitz spoke with Francis Lawrence, the director explained what he ultimately saw in Claflin. First of all were the attributes that the fans will no doubt be scrutinizing: his physical appearance and personality.
“There were a few things we were looking for. One is the physical description of Finnick that you know that he’s going to be beautiful, and he’s going to be athletic, and he’s going to be built, and he’s going to be charming,” Lawrence said. “I think Sam had all of that. He’s very athletic, a very handsome guy, really charming.”
What made Claflin click for Lawrence was based on the transformation that the character undergoes over the course of the film.
“The thing that I was really looking for personally was that Finnick really grows quite quickly into a very different kind of a character than he is when he’s first presented to readers or the audience. He’s really not just the kind of charming rogue that you think he may be in the beginning, but he’s a really a warm, deep-feeling kind of guy that’s really in love with somebody special. That’s the Finnick that’s going to take us through these movies. That was what I connected with with Sam,” Lawrence said. “When he came, I felt his performance and his warmth and his empathy. That was what I wanted to see. I wanted him to be able to cover up that with his charm and flirtiness upfront and see it evolve into that throughout the stories.”
And while Claflin matched the Finnick from the book in that regard, fans shouldn’t expect extreme faithfulness to Suzanne Collins’ book when it comes to one infamous and very skimpy outfit.
“We have a net,” Lawrence said, referring to Finnick’s barely-there entrance outfit. “He’s got a net that’s around his waist. He’s got no shirt on. He may not be quite as nude as he is in the book, but there are sugar cubes. We play that scene pretty much as it is in the book, right there by the horses in the staging area for the chariots. That’s one of my favorite scenes.”
Another of Lawrence’s favorite scenes featuring the new castmember takes on a much quieter tone and is shared between him and Katniss. “There’s another one of these quiet moments, very little dialogue. It’s right after the fog sequence,” he said. “I don’t want to give too much away, but there’s a moment where Katniss and Finnick are sitting together in this swampy water in the middle of the jungle, cleaning off the remnants of what the fog did to them, and she says that she’s sorry for what happened with Mags. There’s a really nice, very simple, quiet, kind of touching moment between the two of them. I think that’s what Sam is really, really great at.”
“The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” opens in theaters on November 22.