The revolution has been sparked. In this week’s cover story, EW traveled to Waikiki, Hawaii where cast and crew were in the final days of production on the eagerly anticipated Hunger Games sequel, Catching Fire (in theaters Nov. 21). Just as the revolution that could embolden the people of Panem rests on young Katniss Everdeen’s shoulders, the success of the franchise depends largely upon Jennifer Lawrence. After spending the day outrunning death in a nearby jungle, the 22-year-old actress ordered herself a Budweiser and kicked back in the Trump balcony lounge to discuss the sequel, her life now as a blockbuster star, and her willful inability to behave like the nice sound-bite machine Hollywood might expect her to be. “It’s almost like I subconsciously don’t want to work anymore so I’m trying to ruin my career,” she says with a laugh at one point, before leaning in close to the reporter’s tape recorder. “I’m pregnant!” she joked.
From her first meeting with new director Francis Lawrence (“I spit egg inside his mouth when I was talking. Into his mouth”) to the raucous party she hosted for the Catching Fire cast and crew (“When Sam walked in I was chasing Woody and we’d flipped over my couch and Woody had a sock all the way down my throat…”), Lawrence was frank and funny and self-aware. “I’m so aware of all the b.s. that surrounds Hollywood,” she says, “and how everyone gets on this high horse and thinks that they’re curing cancer and it makes me so uncomfortable every time I see it. So I go in the exact opposite direction and end up saying something like ‘I’m pregnant!’ when I’m in two franchises.”
Then in an exclusive conversation, director Francis Lawrence described his vision for the sequel, his immediate three-day pow-wow with series writer Suzanne Collins to ready a script, and how one of his inherited cast members had a particularly hard time adjusting to the loss of Hunger Games director Gary Ross. (Woody Harrelson, who plays Katniss and Peeta’s wry and PTSD-ruined wreck of a mentor Haymitch.)
EW also sat down with Sam Claflin, the green-eyed, dimpled Brit who won the role of District 4’s charming and enigmatic golden boy Finnick Odair, for his first Hunger Games interview. He described filming the infamous sugar cube scene, in which Finnick teases Katniss while wearing nothing beyond some strategically placed netting, as “the scariest moment of my life. I’m on Twitter and so many people have been like ‘Don’t mess this up, or we will kill you.'”
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For more on The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, pick up the new issue of Entertainment Weekly, on stands Jan. 11.