The Hunger Games is a complex and somewhat disturbing book trilogy that has broken box office records as a complex and somewhat disturbing film franchise. The final installment is due this fall, and if it follows the books, well… spoilers.
The intricate world of Panem was painstakingly created onscreen, and the many moving parts behind the three blockbusters (thus far) make for their own interesting stories, though since today is Jennifer Lawrence‘s birthday, most of these tidbits will involve her work on the film. I know, you’re heartbroken.
So, without further ado, here are some fascinating facts about The Hunger Games series and America’s sweetheart.
You can visit District 12.
The majority of The Hunger Games was filmed in Asheville, North Carolina, during the spring and summer of 2011. When it came to finding the perfect dystopic setting for District 12’s slummy conditions, location scouts struck gold just an hour east of Asheville. The abandoned Henry River Mill Village was transformed for exterior scenes in the District, and most notably into the home of Peeta’s bakery.
The village was a booming gold-panning town when a fine yarn mill opened there in 1905. Decades later, though, prosperity had long since left and the town has been shut down since 1973. A North Carolina native, Wade Shepherd, bought up 20 of the buildings in the village proper. By the late ’80s, the final resident had moved on.
Thanks to Katniss Everdeen the town is once again movin’ and a shakin’, though. Want to live the life of an impoverished scavenger? Don’t worry, you can. There are tours of the town. One of the “unofficial” village excursions not only takes you through the structures, it also lets you bake a loaf of bread as a “souvenir” and learn archery.
And if the tour isn’t enough for you, Shepherd is trying to cash in on the once defunct town’s new found fame and put all the buildings up for sale in 2012. It’ll cost ya a cool $1.4 million, though.
Your favorite Buffy sorcery-nerd penned both Mockingjay – Part 1 and Part 2.
Behind all that Buffy the Vampire Slayer onscreen awkwardness, Danny Strong is a damn talented screenwriter. Fans of Fox’s record-breaking Empire are likely privy to Strong’s powerful prose, but the man who played Jonathan Levinson does big screen projects (Lee Daniels’ The Butler), too.
Strong, 41, penned the scripts for both parts of Mockingjay. The final book in the trilogy was split in two (we can assume the decision involved dollar signs). Strong initially tackled the first half, pleasing the studio, which subsequently awarded him le grande finale.
The Catching Fire costume designer created 5,800 costumes for the movie’s extras.
Trish Summerville came on to the second film installment of the trilogy with some daunting tasks: emulate the unique looks of Suzanne Collins’ world onscreen, stay true to the vibe sent by the first film, and do it over five thousand times.
Instead of having the film’s thousands of extras dress themselves, as is usually done, Summerville (also behind the looks of Gone Girl and Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) opted to create individual costumes for all of Panem’s background characters. The designer told The Huffington Post that she tracked down clothing any way imaginable.
We had approximately 5,800 extras in the movie. Generally on a contemporary film you send out wardrobe specs and ask people to bring things in that fit into the scale of what you’re shooting. But with the nature of this film, we had to dress people head-to-toe, so we bought things, we built things, we repurposed items, we bought pieces and took them apart and put them back together in a different way.
Lawrence’s “The Hanging Tree” song from Mockingjay – Part One made her one of the few Academy Award winners to also have a Hot 100 charting song.
Despite Lawrence’s insistence that she hates singing, the actress somehow has joined the ranks of Julie Andrews, Cher, and Barbra Streisand as an Academy Award winner with a Billboard chart-topping single – all thanks to Ms. Everdeen.
The actress’s version of Collins’ little ditty, “The Hanging Tree,” in Mockingjay – Part One was remixed for the radio, becoming so popular that by February the track had gone platinum. “The Hanging Tree” sold over one million digital copies and held steady in the Top 5 iTunes sales brackets in over 75 countries for months after its December release. The tune is the highest-charting Hot 100 song related to an Hunger Games film, so far (yeah, watch out Taylor Swift and Lorde).
Elizabeth Banks spent a lot of time in the makeup chair to transform into Effie Trinket (and subsequently couldn’t pee on her own).
Elizabeth Banks is pitch perfect as the outlandish Effie Trinket – a constant blur of sequins, colors, and furs. It’s easy to see and assume that Banks had a tougher time in the makeup trailer than some of her costars (for example, Liam Hemsworth). Much like a bride wearing layers of tulle, Trinket was so done-up that she needed assistance to use the restroom.
“The nails [are] the worst part,” Banks said in 2012. “You can’t undo a button. I couldn’t use my Blackberry. The biggest problem was I couldn’t go to the bathroom. I had like ladies in waiting.”
Banks said her “helpers” had to unzip her costumes, pull them down and even hand her toilet paper.
The actress’s costumes eventually began to include gloves instead of subjecting her to a 45-minute manicure every morning of shooting.
Lawrence gave Josh Hutcherson a concussion while filming.
Lawrence and her onscreen will-they-won’t-they relationship with Josh Hutcherson’s character has been the highlight of most of the franchise’s press tours. Fans love the fictional couple so much they’ve even dubbed the duo “Peenis” (really, that was the best option?). Pair their brother-sister relationship with Lawrence’s aforementioned tomfoolery, and you get a concussed Hutcherson.
“We were just goofing around, and like doing some shadow boxing for fun … as one does. She throws this beautiful kick, but it landed right on my temple and literally knocked me to the ground and I was down,” he explained during a Letterman appearance (and above). It wasn’t until later, during filming that Hutcherson and crew figured out he had a concussion.
“The next day somebody asked me for my address and I started telling them my address from when I was nine years old,” he said. “That’s when I was like, ‘This is not right.'”
JLaw went partially deaf during Catching Fire filming.
Beauty, brains, humor and… hearing loss? The rigorous water scenes from Catching Fire took quite the toll on Lawrence’s hearing. The actress was left deaf in one ear for months after being in stagnant water to shoot much of the Quarter Quell. The star lost all hearing after a water jet from the cornucopia scenes punctured hear ear drum.
“I went deaf in one ear for months. . . . But that wasn’t actually physically challenging. It was just ear challenging,” she said during 2013 press interviews.
What a survivor.