Stephanie Leigh Schlund will live forever. Of course, the most memorable moment of her onscreen immortalization in “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” is her violent death, but why quibble?
In the Francis Lawrence-directed second installment, Schlund plays the vicious career tribute-turned-Hunger Games champion, Cashmere. The new District 1 character doesn’t get as much screen time as some of her fellow cast freshmen — like Sam Claflin’s Finnick or Jena Malone’s Johanna — but Schlund is grateful to have even made it to the Arena. After all, her first attempt at volunteering as tribute (or auditioning for a role, to shift offscreen from Panem) in 2012′s “The Hunger Games,” didn’t go so well.
“It’s funny, I actually auditioned for Glimmer in the first movie, but I hadn’t read the book and, obviously, I knew nothing about the franchise and I had no idea what I was doing,” Schlund told MTV News in a recent interview. “The script did not make any sense to me without the series, so I just floundered the audition. And then, when I saw it in theaters, I was like, ‘Oh, crap. I think I messed up.’”
She got her second chance soon after, and that time she was prepared.
“I dove into the books and I read them in a matter of days; I couldn’t put them down,” Schlund said. “But I honestly didn’t really anticipate getting to read for the film until I got a phone call about the audition. From the second that I found out I had the audition, I just had a gut feeling, like this was gonna be good. And, luckily, it was right.”
Soon enough, Schlund was training for the Arena, a process she likened to “one giant self-defense class.” Knife-throwing, Cashmere’s specialty, is one of the hardest weapon skills to learn, according to Schlund’s trainer.
“On any given day, I would have one to five knives somewhere on my body that I would have to pull. You pull one and you chuck it, then you pull another and you chuck it. It’s just a series of chucking knives,” Schlund explained. Asked if she’d kept any of her props around, she laughed. “I don’t know why the TSA is stopping me all the time!”
Despite her training, Schlund said she wouldn’t fare well if she herself were in a Hunger Games-like situation. “I can’t kill someone with a stiletto, so … I’d probably just hide in the forest somewhere,” she admitted, calling herself a “happy person.”
Speaking of those stilettos, Schlund’s past as a model resurfaced as interest in her grew. “Every shoot that I’ve ever done in my life so far has resurfaced,” she said, and though she finds the fan interest “sweet,” she lamented, “some of [the pictures] I wish would not resurface, but they do.”
One thing in particular that has resurfaced isn’t even true: Schlund had a former gig as a model on the game show “The Price Is Right,” presenting the prizes that contestants could win after they’d “come on down.” A quick search of Schlund’s name and the show leads to a titled video “Price Is Right Models Knock Over Big Screen TV.”
You can guess where this is leading.
Schlund insists it’s a classic case of mistaken identity: “There was this model on the show when I was on the show, and we looked so similar. They used to put all of us in the same dresses; they don’t anymore. I would go backstage to, like, touch up hair and makeup and I’d look up at the monitor and think it was me, but it was her. It was not me, I never had a blooper on ‘The Price is Right,’ but I can totally understand where the public can think that was me.”
Evil twins aside, Schlund is riding high on her “Hunger Games” experience. She’s dealt with paparazzi, shared pictures of her family on her phone with Jennifer Lawrence (“From action to cut, we’d either be going for each other or sharing photos of our siblings”), and traveled the world as a result of the film. She said she feels powerful, and that she considers Katy Perry’s anthem “Roar” a sort of theme song for this period in her life.
“At this moment in my life, like, it’s time to step up and really be heard.”