(If you are reading this with that headline and are worried about a spoiler alert, there is no hope for you.)
At the end of four The Hunger Games movies, Francis Lawrence didn’t want to film the final scene before they earned it. If you’ve seen the final film, which many people did over the weekend, it ends with a scene set in the future, with Katniss and Peeta frolicking with their children … with Katniss still very aware of the price that was paid to get to this point.
We all know movies are not filmed in sequence, but it’s interesting that Lawrence didn’t want to film that final scene before he was ready, even though as he says, it would have been pretty easy to do. But, as fate would have it, a rough winter ruined what he thought would be an easy shoot, forcing that final scene to be filmed much later than expected — which probably wound up being a benefit.
When we spoke a year ago, you said Mockingjay Part II was done except for one scene.
Yeah, we hadn’t done the final scene.
And you wanted some more lush greenery. The last scene was pretty lush, so I assumed that was it.
Yeah, that was it. The funny thing about that, there’s a scene right after her breakdown where she goes hunting by herself for the first time at the end and it’s the same field. And that was the first scene that we did when we started up shooting the Mockingjay movies. It was late summer, we could have done the final scene of the movie – I just felt like it was emotionally wrong to do the final, final, final scene of the series right upfront before we shot these two movies. So we said, “You know what? We’re still going to be here in the spring, so let’s just do it at the end.” And, of course, we have this horrible winter with snow and ice storms, so spring came late and we missed it. So, we just decided, since it was the second movie, we could punt that scene a year and have a little reunion and bring everybody back together for a couple of days.
A lot of directors probably wouldn’t have worried about when that scene was filmed.
Yeah, and that’s why it was actually a really easy decision. Because, we could have tried to wait, I guess. But, that would have turned things really off. There was no rush for the scene, because it was for the next movie. What was really important was finishing the stuff for Mockingjay Part 1, so it ended up being easy. And you know, it’s also interesting because you go, okay, there’s a whole other year between finishing the movie and shooting that scene. And you know, at 23 and 25, Josh and Jen look different. We did a little age work on Jen – really minimal, but there’s a little age work. We give her little crow’s feet, really faint, but we did some. But, they just look different, you know? Everybody is a slightly different weight; the hair is a little different.
In the book it’s 20 years later.
It is, yes.
Is this maybe five years later?
No. I mean, we’re being vague, so you just come up black pretty quickly and you see the kids and so you can kind of make up your mind. If you’ve read the book, you can go, “Oh, wow, there’s 20 years.” The idea Suzanne always had was that it took a long time before Katniss was willing to have kids. That she had a lot of feelings about, which I think is true. But my guess is that it was somewhere closer to 10 or 15 years.
Mike Ryan lives in New York City and has written for The Huffington Post, Wired, Vanity Fair and New York magazine. He is senior entertainment writer at Uproxx. You can contact him directly on Twitter.