EW looks back at our final interview with the trio, as they look back on the huge success of the franchise.
With Hunger Games prequel The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes hitting theaters, we're taking a look back on our last interview with franchise stars actors Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, and Liam Hemsworth, on the eve of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2's premiere. EW writer Nicole Sperling sat down with the three for a raucous, memory-filled roundtable. From sleepovers to Donald Trump, here's that unvarnished conversation from 2015, featuring the tight-knit trio.
So, most important question first: How's the movie?
LIAM HEMSWORTH: I think it's probably the best one.
You're not just saying that because you are in it so much more?
HEMSWORTH: No. [Laughs] Maybe a little bit. But it's start-to-finish exciting. Part 1 was setting up this battle. And now it feels like you're in the middle of it the whole time.
JOSH HUTCHERSON: All these moving pieces finally come to a head in this one movie. [Jennifer Lawrence arrives. Takes a swig of Hemsworth's vodka and soda.]
JENNIFER LAWRENCE: Hey, guys. Oh, how refreshing. I love club soda and lime.
Liam was just telling us this is his favorite movie because he gets more screen time.
LAWRENCE: It is quite a coincidence. Best movie. More Liam, could it be? It's a valid question.
I want to take you all back to the first film. At what point did you realize The Hunger Games was going to be massive?
HEMSWORTH: As soon as we started the press tour for the first film. It was like a good punch in the face.
HUTCHERSON: One of the most shocking moments was [right before the first movie opened], when we did that mall event in Century City.
LAWRENCE: There were just so many people.
HUTCHERSON: Before we went to the stage, we were in this little building next door, and I remember seeing all these people. I was just like, "Oh, f---!"
LAWRENCE: "They must be having a Twilight event." [Laughter]
Jen, did it really take you three days to decide to sign on to this role?
LAWRENCE: Yeah. There was one day of a solid no, and then I knew that I wanted to do it, and I knew that I'd be really disappointed if I said no. It was more that it was such a giant decision that I felt like I just couldn't make it over the phone when they offered it to me.
What was worrying you?
LAWRENCE: Well, I was 20, and this was a decision that would affect the rest of my life, so I just felt like I needed to think about it.
HEMSWORTH: That was smart.
HUTCHERSON: I didn't do that.
LAWRENCE: Well, girls are smarter than boys.
HUTCHERSON: You mature faster. You're not smarter.... I just didn't think it through. The problem with becoming iconic characters like these is that your careers can get trapped by them: Audiences don't to see you play anyone else.
How did you keep that from happening?
LAWRENCE: I just didn't stop working. I made a decision that I would do as many movies in between [Hunger Games installments] as possible because I was so afraid of having one overwhelming character.
HEMSWORTH: I think you also can't be afraid of something like that.
LAWRENCE: Au contraire. I think it's pretty legit to be afraid of something like that.
HEMSWORTH: Yeah, but if you have a good project with good people, then you're not going to pass it up. Also, never make a decision out of fear.
LAWRENCE: [Mocking him] "Also, never make a decision out of fear. Never."
Do you remember when you realized you'd be friends and not just co-workers?
LAWRENCE: If we had met each other in any different circumstance, we would still be best friends. And our love is as close to unconditional as it gets because there's no fear between us because we love each other so much. There's no fear in our love.
HEMSWORTH: Don't make decisions based on fear. [Laughs]
What was it like when the first movie became a cultural phenomenon?
LAWRENCE: You're not a part of the cultural phenomenon. You're separated from it.
HUTCHERSON: When you see tons of people screaming and going crazy...I have the same problem that Peeta does of distinguishing reality from not reality. So for me, that's not real. It seems so strange.
LAWRENCE: It's like you're an avatar of yourself.
HEMSWORTH: You get back into the car after a premiere, and it's dead silent, and you're like...
LAWRENCE: "I'm glad that's over."
Did this level of fame change your lives dramatically?
HUTCHERSON: I don't think they changed dramatically. There are some elements that you have to adjust.
HEMSWORTH: It's not that extreme. You have moments, obviously, where people notice you. [To Lawrence] How do you feel about that?
LAWRENCE: I remember getting really emotional just trying to get a coffee, because I felt that everywhere I looked, everybody was looking at me funny, and it made me feel alienated. All of sudden I didn't feel a part of humanity in this weird way. I was living with my best friend, and I surrounded myself with such a good group that in my intimate world nothing changed. But I was angry for a long time because I felt like I should have the right to drive without being followed. I should have the right to not be photographed, especially when you're going to put my picture next to a story that came out of f---ing nowhere. Now I just don't have the energy for that anymore. I've got such a great life and such a great job. There are some s---ty things that come along with it, but you know, whatever.
HEMSWORTH: Yeah, at the end of the day you can't control it anyway.
LAWRENCE: Do you guys want to have a sleepover tonight, yes or no?
HEMSWORTH: I don't have all my stuff.
"It's an action movie with a woman in the lead that men want to go see. It changed the conversation.""
Jennifer LAWRENCE OON THE FRANCHISE'S LEGACY
How often do you have sleepovers?
LAWRENCE: Off and on. [Laughter] Often enough. Don't write about that. It might be taken the wrong way.
How should it be taken?
LAWRENCE: Well, we have sex with each other. I'm kidding!
But people can understand when you're joking, can't they?
LAWRENCE: I don't really think they can. Here's something I wouldn't mind being printed: If Donald Trump becomes President, that will be the end of the world.
HEMSWORTH: I'll bavck you upon that.
HUTCHERSON: It's a publicity stunt. It can't be real.
LAWRENCE: I was watching him on the campaign trail, and one guy said, "I love Donald Trump because he's saying everything I'm thinking, and I just can't say it because of the PC factor." And I'm thinking, "You are absolutely right. That's who I want representing my country, somebody politically incorrect. That will just be perfect."
You shot the last two films back-to-back. Was there one scene in that epic 152-day period that you were most anxious to film?
LAWRENCE: I was excited about the scene at the end of the movie when I shoot my arrow — I won't give it away — because when I was doing my archery training at age 20, that was always the scene I pictured. Five years ago I used to look at a stack of hay and pretend that it was this moment, and now it is here.
How was your aim?
LAWRENCE: It was CGI, so let's just say I nailed it.
HEMSWORTH: You were particularly nervous about the singing scene [from Part 1]. We all know that.
HUTCHERSON: It's so stupid. You're such a great singer.
HEMSWORTH: She was so worried about it, I assumed that she must have a bad voice. And she did it, and I'm like, "Jen, it's actually good." She's like, "Shut up!"
LAWRENCE: I only snapped at you because who else was I gonna snap at?
HEMSWORTH: No, I know. I'm your punching bag, man. Don't worry about it.
LAWRENCE: But I can never be yours. Don't you dare start thinking that's a two-way street.
HUTCHERSON: For me it was the scene where Peeta had to freakout and lose his mind. I was more excited than nervous, but then right before we shot, I realized I hadn't planned on what the hell I was going to do. And then they say "Action." You're like, "Ah!" And you just kind of do it.
LAWRENCE: But that's always when you do your best, because then you're not thinking. You're just. feeling. Ugh! I meant that when I said it, but I realized how douchey it sounded, so I just had to turn it into a joke.
Did you take anything from the set on the last day?
HUTCHERSON: On Catching Fire I took the little locket that Peeta gives to Katniss.
LAWRENCE: I've always wanted that. I have bows, and I took a Mockingjay pin. I want the orange backpack from the first movie, but it's in the museum right now.
HUTCHERSON: The Hunger Games exhibition they opened in New York.
LAWRENCE: I made my own museum. It's like Dollywood, but it's called Jennifer Lawrenceville.
HUTCHERSON: We're still working on the name.
After all these movies together, what was the last day of filming like?
LAWRENCE: It was so emotional that I was completely dead inside.
HUTCHERSON: Yeah. I felt really weird.
HEMSWORTH: I was drunk.
HUTCHERSON: Liam and I had finished the day before, and we finished a bottle of Scotch that night. And then [the next day] we came to the set because Jen and Woody [Harrelson] had a last scene together. Then they called wrap, and we kind of just sat there on the steps in this room, and we just held each other...
LAWRENCE: And then a week later we were all hanging out, and we thought, "Was it weird that we got so dramatic?"
What impact do you think this franchise has had beyond being just entertainment?
HUTCHERSON: Well, there are not a lot of movies like this where you have a [female] character that is so brave and so strong and so courageous.
LAWRENCE: It's an action movie with a woman in the lead that men want to go see. It changed the conversation. Nobody can deny that.
HUTCHERSON: It does break a lot of stereotypes as far as what these blockbuster movies tend to be.
LAWRENCE: I would like to think that it has had a 1 percent impact on social change.
HUTCHERSON: One percent? That would be a great amount for one film to do.
LAWRENCE: Well, I'm trying to be modest. Whatever number modest would be.
HUTCHERSON: I don't know.
LAWRENCE: We sound like idiots. But you know what? We are idiots!
HUTCHERSON: By the way, that is the closing quote for the article. [Laughter]
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