After a huge opening weekend for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, it seems Willow Shields’ days of hobnobbing with A-listers are far from over.
While taking EW‘s Pop Culture Personality Test, Shields—who plays Primrose Everdeen, the younger sister of Jennifer Lawrence’s heroine Katniss—recalled having a fan-girly run-in with Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy at San Diego Comic-Con. There was even a little danger involved.
Watch the video below to find out out what made Shields’ heart race (other than the X-Men stars), then read on for a full transcript and more of Shields’ insights on Prim’s beefed-up part in the new film. (Warning for those who haven’t seen the third Hunger Games installment: Stop reading now if you don’t want to know details from Mockingjay — Part 1.)
While the previous two Hunger Games films have focused on Katniss’ ascent from District 13 nobody to the symbol of a nationwide revolution, Mockingjay‘s move to the rebels’ headquarters in District 13 gives Shields more chances to dig into Prim, who has grown into her role as a healer and a counselor for her complicated, conflicted big sister.
“Prim really comes into her own in Mockingjay,” says Shields. “Katniss is in such a bad place—falling apart—and Prim is really the one to step up and give her advice. Her strength is subtle, but I think it’s noticeable, and it’s beautiful. The relationship between Prim and Katniss has changed a bit—the roles have been reversed, and Prim is almost taking care of Katniss.”
Shields particularly enjoyed filming the scene in which Prim takes a surprisingly hard line, advising Katniss that President Coin (Julianne Moore) will have to comply to all of her demands: “That’s one of my favorite scenes. That’s the scene where you really do get to see that [strong, wise] side of Prim.”
Bonus: Prim’s advice means Katniss’ animal-loving sister gets to keep her cat Buttercup, which Shields laughs was “a really big cat—it was, like, 20 pounds, so holding it was a good workout.”
EW: What’s the first music you bought with your own money?
WILLOW SHIELDS: I’m into vinyl now, actually, and I remember like three or four years ago when I first got a record player, my grandma bought me a Taylor Swift album on vinyl, and I was really excited about that. So that’s one of my favorites. I love vinyl because you can listen to the whole album through really easily, and it’s just fun to listen to the whole thing.
Do you have a prized pop-culture possession?
I always have fun when I go to Comic-Con because I geek out on some of the stuff. Everybody’s at Comic-Con, so I was, like, passing by like Halle Berry and Tom Cruise… and then we got in an elevator with James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender, and I was like, “Oh my God, they’re in the elevator with us!” [Laughs] I was, like, so excited. I was kind of fan-girling in the corner. We were talking about how the elevator was making a lot of really bad, weird noises, and we were all a little freaked out by it. That was our conversation. [Laughs] So I can say I had a conversation with Michael Fassbender about the elevator!
What TV show do you plan your life around?
Most of the TV shows I watch, I watch with my family, so we all have to love it. The Walking Dead I really love. That’s kind of my favorite right now. I really like [Chandler Riggs’] Carl because he’s kind of the one kid character, and I think that it’s cool that he’s grown a lot as a character. I appreciate that while watching the show.
What movie do you think is underrated?
[Julie Taymor’s Beatles musical] Across the Universe is one that I love and I think is beautifully done. It’s amazing, and the reviews on it are not that great, and people haven’t really recognized the film that much. I think that it’s actually fantastic. Some people don’t understand it because it is this musical, and it’s very weird at times, and it’s kind of a magic realism sort of thing, but I love it, it’s one of my favorites.
Final score: Willow Shields has… A Real Hunger for Entertainment