Sam Claflin Reflects on His ‘Hunger Games’ Arc 10 Years Later: ‘Finnick Deserved Better’

It’s been 10 years since a shirtless Sam Claflin first stole hearts as the charismatic District 4 victor Finnick Odair in 2013’s “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.”

In a conversation with Variety about his upcoming Prime Video series, “Daisy Jones & the Six,” Claflin reflected on the films at length. “It still feels like yesterday…the filming experience of that was just an absolute dream,” he said, beaming as he recalled filming in Hawaii alongside Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson.

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It wasn’t all easy, though. The actor faced backlash at the time of his casting: “‘You were so wrong for this.’ ‘They should have cast this person or this person, not you,’” Claflin remembers hearing when he was selected for the beloved role. His attitude? “Okay, I’m gonna prove you wrong!”

He did just that, cementing Finnick as a fan-favorite, not just in Suzanne Collins’ books, but on the screen. “Thankfully, I wasn’t Katniss Everdeen or Peeta Mellark or Gale. Those guys were in it from the beginning. I was a supporting role — a heavily featured role, but there wasn’t as much pressure on me at the time, or eyes on me.”

Even now, Claflin seems to underestimate Finnick’s wild popularity. “I read the books, but I was obsessed with Katniss. Also Peeta’s journey, getting completely brainwashed and then having to overcome that like that. That was so electric,” he says. “Everyone’s always like, ‘Finnick’s my favorite character.’ Don’t get me wrong – I fucking loved him as well!”

When Claflin thinks back to his time as Finnick, he says he wishes he could redo parts of his performance, knowing what he knows now. “At the time, I was shitting myself — the first topless scene I’ve ever done, you know? Oh, my God. Also, I didn’t have an accent coach in ‘Hunger Games,’ and I fucking needed one. I look back and listen to myself like, ‘God, that’s terrible.’”

With films like “Me Before You” and “The Riot Club” under his belt, Claflin says he’s since grown significantly as an actor and as a person. “I feel a little more confident in myself and comfortable in myself. Especially with a part like Finnick, where he just exudes charisma.”

As for Finnick’s death at the hands of lizard mutts during the rebellion, Claflin still has some thoughts. “I think Finnick deserved better. But I think he did the right thing. He’s a good guy, sacrificing himself for the cause.”

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