Francis Lawrence ‘Catching Fire’ Interview: The Bonus Material

Catching Fire” won’t blaze into theaters until November, but it’s never too early to get a sneak peek at the highly anticipated “Hunger Games” sequel. So you better believe that as MTV News previews the top films of 2013, the dystopian thriller will be squarely in our crosshairs.

In fact, director Francis Lawrence hopped on the phone recently with our own Josh Horowitz to talk about taking over from predecessor Gary Ross, casting the dreamiest man in Panem and the challenges of the new-and-improved arena. That chat is waiting for you at MTV News, but as a bonus for all you loyal Hollywood Crush readers, we’ve compiled a number of tidbits that didn’t make it into the interview. Keep reading after the jump for all the extras!

On whether he ever called Gary for advice:
“No, no, I never talked to Gary about anything. For no reason other than I had Nina [Jacobson], the producer, and John [Kilik], the producer, and [author] Suzanne [Collins], and there were a lot of people with a lot of knowledge of the material, especially Suzanne. One of the first things that I did when I got the job—I think it was five or six days after I got the job—I got on a plane to New York and sat in a room with Suzanne, and she and I basically went through the book together. And just kind of created a beat sheet over the course of three days that became the basis for the script.”

On whether there are major changes from the book:
“No, not really, I would say that it’s a really faithful adaptation. You know, whenever you’re adapting something that’s a 12- or 14-hour read down to something that has to be around two hours, there’s going to be some cuts. We definitely made some cuts. I don’t want to go into that, but we did it with Suzanne, and I would say that it’s very, very faithful. We tried to get as much as we could in there.”

On the scenes he’s most proud of:
“It’s interesting because there’s a very small blur—I want to say it’s a paragraph long in the book—but the moment in the arena when the gamemaker starts to spin the cornucopia, and I’m very proud of that. We designed a very cool sequence and created a spinning island, and that’s going to be very, very cool. So that’s kind of fun and very unique. I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s cool.

“You know one of the very first things we shot that I like quite a lot is, there is sort of a goodbye before she goes into the arena with Liam that I like a lot. And it was actually—we shot it because we needed summer foliage and summer flowers and things like that. We actually shot it while we were in prep. Very first thing we sort of went out into the meadow, out in the mountains in north Georgia and shot this sequence over three or four hours or so, and I really like it. I think it’s really nice. Jennifer and Liam are really good in it. It’s very nice.”

On whether those IMAX rumors are true:
“Yeah, the idea is that it’s sort of mixed formats. But yeah, that’s the idea is that the arena is in the IMAX format so that once you go in the elevator and it opens up.”

On whether his actors’ jovial natures ever lead to disruptions:
“You know what? I believe that the process could be fun, I just think that making movies is really tough. And it’s stressful as it is, and I think that most of us got in this business because it’s fun to make movies. I think it should stay fun. And it’s a really fun group and a very talented group. I would say only occasionally, maybe once or twice, did it get a little rowdy on set. We had to sort of clear everybody out because it is a little distracting. Or you just nicely say, ’Hey guys, why don’t we take this off the set and go somewhere else?’ And I will say you go with that combo of Jen and Josh and Woody together and it can be mayhem.”

On “Mockingjay”:
“Nina, John, Suzanne and I have gone through the book and created the beat sheets for it. And started going through all that and at least marking our initial ideas of what the moments would be and how it all breaks down. And Danny Strong, who’s writing the first one, is working now. So yeah, we’ve actually done a fair amount of work. We’re starting to think about where we could shoot it and all of that.”

Are you excited to see Francis Lawrence’s take on “Catching Fire”? Tell us in the comments and on Twitter!