As everyone knows, director Gary Ross‘ The Hunger Games is now playing in theaters. During the recent Los Angeles press junket, I landed an exclusive interview with Liam Hemsworth. Since he’s been doing so much press recently, I tried to ask new questions like what’s his favorite movie, director and actor, what’s his karaoke song, what surprised him about making the film and the promotion that has come with it, deleted scenes, the mall tour and more. In addition, with Hemsworth busy with a number of other projects, we also talked about The Expendables 2, Phillip Noyce‘s Timeless, Dito Montiel‘s Empire State, and more.
Based on Suzanne Collins’ novel and produced by Nina Jacobson, The Hunger Games stars Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Lenny Kravitz, Elizabeth Banks, Woody Harrelson, Donald Sutherland, Wes Bentley , Alexander Ludwig, Isabelle Fuhrman and Amandla Stenberg. For more on the film, here’s three clips and six minutes of behind-the-scenes footage, as well as all our previous coverage. Hit the jump to either read or listen to the interview.
As usual, I’m offering two ways to get the interview: you can either click here for the audio, or the full transcript is below. And if you missed my exclusive interviews with Jennifer Lawrence or director Gary Ross just click the links.
Collider: You’ve been asked a lot of the same questions, just like the rest of your cast, and I assure you that none of my questions will be the same. Favorite movie, favorite director, favorite actor, if you have a favorite. If not, what are some of your favorites?
Liam Hemsworth: One of my favorite movies is, A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints. One of my favorite directors as well, Dito (Montiel). I’m actually doing a film with him mid this year, which I’m excited about. What was the second part of that?
Director, actor, movie.
Hemsworth: Okay so that’s the movie and director. Favorite actor…I have so many actors. You know who I love right now is Neil Patrick Harris. [laughs] I think that dude is one of the funniest, most talented guys out there and completely underrated. I’m going to go with Neil Patrick Harris on that one.
Is this also a subliminal way of telling the universe you want to be on How I Met Your Mother?
Hemsworth: Yeah, sure. I love it. Me and my buddies have recently gotten really into that show. Obviously it’s been around for a long time, but I don’t think I realized how funny it was and I’ve been watching it a lot lately and I think Neil Patrick Harris is ridiculously funny.
Hemsworth: Suit up? Wear suits in every one of my performances? [laughs] Yeah, he’s always looking pretty cool.
Okay, next “fun” question: what is your go to karaoke song?
Hemsworth: Guns N’ Roses, probably. Paradise City.
Not bad! When you got cast, everyone already knew what this was, a big property based on a very successful book…you guys just did a mall tour yesterday…did you feel the need to call anyone on Twilight and say, “What’s the advice?”
Hemsworth: I didn’t feel the need to do that. I don’t know what the advice would be anyway. I feel like anything I’m doing in life, I try to stay myself and be as honest and true as I can be, you know, and be a nice person. I’ve always been taught to be kind to people and have an open mind about life. So, I think just keeping all that there and not losing my head too much.
Often times when I speak to actors, directors, people involved in the film, they always try to take home something from set, a prop if you will. Did you manage to hypothetically borrow anything from set?
No, I said hypothetically. Because you would actually not take anything from the film.
Hemsworth: I never got it in the end, but when I was shooting there I got forgotten by a transpo two days in a row. Basically, they forgot to pick me up. So I turned up to work the next day and there was a mountain bike in my trailer the producers had gotten me and they said, “If we forget you again, you can ride to work.” It was kind of a punch in the face and a gift at the same time. But then I never took it away. I asked Josh [Hutcherson] about the bike the other day, because I was there for the first six weeks of the shoot and he said, “Yeah, the bike kind of went in and out of my trailer for the whole of the shoot and I just got them to send it back to my little brother, so he has it now.” And Josh said, “Are you going to take it away from a fifteen-year-old? Are you going to take a bike away from a kid?” So he has it now.
This is obviously a big project, it’s a big deal. What has surprised you the most so far about making this film and the promotion that has come with it?
Hemsworth: It’s grown more and more as time’s gone on. When I signed on, it was already big and everyone was expecting it to be big. Now, it’s even bigger than ever. I keep hearing about more craziness that’s going around it and we’re about to do this big tour that I’m very excited about. I don’t think I’ve ever promoted something as large as this, so it’s exciting. I’m extremely fortunate to be in the position I’m in.
Hemsworth: I’m all about working with directors that are doing different techniques and I think everyone has their way of getting it to the place that they think is best. Yeah, sometimes it requires fifty and sometimes you can do it in two. The most I’ve ever done? I don’t know. I shot this film called Triangle, actually, and there was this scene where I choke…I strangle Melissa George. It was a really hard scene to do because, obviously, you want it to look real but at the same time I don’t really want to be strangling her, I don’t want to injure her. So I had to come up to her and kind of slam her in the throat and then choke her. God, we did a lot, a lot of takes and it just got to the point where we both were like, “You’ve got it. We can’t…” She was exhausted. It was really tough not to be hurting her in every take. I can’t remember how many takes we did, but we did a lot.
Talk a little bit about deleted scenes. Were there any scenes that you shot that were lost, that you didn’t see in the final product? Anything you were sad to see go? Or did you not notice when you saw the movie?
Hemsworth: I didn’t notice. I don’t think there was. I don’t remember anything that we shot that wasn’t in the final cut. I thought everything fit perfectly and everything flowed perfectly and there was great pacing and extremely powerful. I don’t think anything that I shot was cut. [laughs] Not that I remember.
Often when I speak to actors, when they book a big gig, or gigs like this project, they buy themselves a gift. Did you buy yourself a gift when you got cast?
Hemsworth: [laughs] I don’t think so. Honestly, I’m not an extravagant person, I don’t spend a lot of money. Most of my money goes back to Australia for my older brother; I buy him gifts all the time and my parents. I don’t spend a lot of money on myself, really. I probably just had a big party with everyone. That was the gift.
Obviously the second film in this is moving forward like a freight train, this whole entire endeavor. What’s it like for you, right now, being in the middle? Are you excited to go back so soon to playing the same character? Could you talk about that?
Hemsworth: Yeah, obviously my character, he grows more and more through the books and there’s a lot more different stuff to do in the other books. I’m a fan of the books and would be extremely happy to shoot the other two. We’re going to hopefully shoot, if this does as well as what everyone thinks it’s going to, I think we’ll shoot the second one later on this year.
Often times when I speak to actors, some people love to start preparing for their role the second they know they have it; they’re working the script, they’re breaking it down. Some actors wait til a lot closer to shooting because they want to just give it everything. Where are you in that process?
Hemsworth: It depends. If I have nothing before whatever I’m shooting, I’ll start as soon as I can. But if I have two films, I think I’m going to be shooting at least two films before The Hunger Games, I have two lined up, so I’m not really thinking about Hunger Games Number Two too much at the moment because I’ve got to do other stuff for these other roles, so I kind of focus on what’s the next job.
If I’m not mistaken, you might have worked with some big action stars recently in some sequel to something that will be unnamed. What the hell was that process like for you and how exciting was it?
Hemsworth: I did, yeah. It was pretty amazing. Do you not want me to…?
No, I was just joking.
Hemsworth: [laughs] Yeah it was The Expendables 2 which I shot. Originally I was supposed to be in the first one. This was three years ago when I was in Australia. Stallone called me in Australia and asked if I wanted to be in the first one and the script ended up getting rewritten and it didn’t end up happening. But he brought me back in the second one and called me up and said he had this part and I said, “Absolutely.” Yeah, I got to be on set with a bunch of the biggest action heroes ever. It was a dream come true and pretty amazing as a young male and actor, just to be on set with those guys.
Hemsworth: I have Timeless, which I’ve been working with Phillip Noyce for a little while to try and get going. And then I have Empire State, which is the next thing I’m going to shoot. Honestly, it’s probably one of the most excited I’ve been for a project, just because I love Dito Montiel. A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints is one of my favorite movies if not my favorite. I’ve always liked those types of films, those gritty crime films. I just think they’re very interesting and the way he shoots things is interesting and different. Yeah, that’s going to be very cool to shoot.
I’m running out of time with you but I definitely have to ask, you guys did day one of the mall tour yesterday. I saw some pictures online, it seems like there was a decent crowd there. What was that experience like for you?
Hemsworth: Me and Jennifer did a little bit in Mexico a few weeks ago and that was a similar kind of thing. It was fun, you know? It was pretty cool to see a large amount of screaming fans and people who are extremely passionate about the books. It’s exciting. I just want the movie to come out and I want people to see it.
Because it’s actually really good.
Hemsworth: Because it’s really good. I’m very proud of it.
For more Hunger Games interviews from the recent Los Angeles press junket: