We had the amazing opportunity to chat with Willow Shields about being a part of The Hunger Games franchise in advance of this Saturday’s release of the DVD/Blu-ray.
Check out the interview below to hear about her audition for Prim, what she learned from working with Jennifer Lawrence, her plans to talk with Catching Fire director Francis Lawrence, and her excitement for the sequel after having read the script. We also asked her about the clip we see on the DVD’s special features where Prim is wearing a Tribute uniform in the arena!
Q: What initially drew you to the character of Prim?
Willow: I was actually in the middle of reading the book and was becoming a huge fan right when I got the audition. So I was really excited and I loved the character of Prim. I thought it was a really interesting character. And my brother had read the books and was a huge fan, so our whole family was becoming big fans. So I think Prim was just a really interesting character for me because she was the person that actually was chosen to go into the Hunger Games but Katniss takes her place and that’s where it all begins. So that was really interesting for me.
Q: You mentioned your audition. What was that like?
Willow: I actually taped an audition from my house and I sent it through email. And then when I got a call back, I flew into LA and met with Gary at his house. I did the audition about three times for him in different ways that he wanted me to do it, and then right after he told me that I didn’t have to worry about auditioning again because I’d gotten the part.
Q: Do you remember which scene it was?
Willow: It was the scene where I was saying goodbye to Katniss and giving her the Mockingjay pin.
Q: Coming into this as a young actress, were you at all nervous about working with so many extremely talented people, like Gary Ross and Jennifer Lawrence?
Willow: Of course. At my age, it was like the first day of school or something for me – going on set, meeting everyone, I was so nervous. There are so many incredible people working on The Hunger Games, I was so nervous to meet them all.
Q: Is there any one major thing you really learned from your experience working with all of them?
Willow: Mostly just to have fun. Take Jennifer – on set she’s constantly having fun. She’s an incredible actress on the screen, and she’s serious on screen, but then she comes off and she’s just laughing and having fun. I think that’s a great thing to take away from The Hunger Games, seeing how other actors act on set.
Q: You’ve previously said that your life hasn’t changed dramatically since The Hunger Games, but how have you been handling the increased fame and fans?
Willow: The only thing that’s different is, yeah, the fans. But it’s really died down now since The Hunger Games came out. But right when The Hunger Games came out, it was kind of crazy. I would go out somewhere and I’d get recognized a lot. It’s a really interesting thing to have happen.
Q: In one of the released clips from The Hunger Games DVD special features, fans noticed that there is a quick shot of you standing in the woods wearing a Tribute uniform. What is going on there?!
Willow: Well … that’s actually a scene that I had shot to possibly go in the movie. And it’s kind of been in hiding for a while. But actually it was a scene that was supposed to possibly go in right before I woke up from my dream. And that was going to be my dream – I was going to be running away from Tributes, thinking that I was in the Hunger Games.
Q: So it was going to fit toward the beginning of the movie. Some fans thought it might have been a part of Katniss’ hallucinations when she’s stung by the tracker jackers in the arena.
Willow: Well it was going to be my dream. It’s something that’s been in hiding for a while … there’s some relief that I can just say it. (laughs) So that was supposed to be my dream before I wake up when Katniss is telling me that I’m not going to be chosen for the Games when I had that dream and I think that I am.
Q: Have you had a chance to meet with the new director, Francis Lawrence, yet?
Willow: I have not, but I’m actually speaking to him on the phone soon. Which I’m very, very excited about. He’s an incredible director.
Q: Do you have any questions you want to ask him in that initial conversation about what his approach will be for this movie?
Willow: I’m not quite sure yet. A lot of directors are different, and I’m really excited to see what Francis Lawrence thinks he wants to do with this movie, how he wants to portray these characters, and if it’s different than how Gary Ross thought of this.
Q: Woody Harrelson commented recently that he won’t get to go to Hawaii for Catching Fire filming, presumably because the arena scenes will be shot there. Does that mean you don’t get to go either?
Willow: Yeah … it’s really sad. (laughs)
Q: However, as the series goes on, Prim’s character becomes more important. Is there anything you’re particularly excited to see as Prim’s role gets bigger?
Willow: I’m super excited for that. It’s going to be so much fun. It just means more time hanging out with Jennifer and the whole cast, which is really exciting. I actually just read the script which is really exciting. I’m really excited for the fans to see Catching Fire. It’s going to be incredible.
Q: Having read the script, are you planning to prepare any differently for Catching Fire than you did for The Hunger Games?
Willow: All I can is that The Hunger Games has definitely influenced Prim to become a stronger character, like she does in the books. So I think it’s going to be a really fun role to play, and I’m really excited. I think the fans are really going to love Catching Fire.
Q: Are there any other actors you’re looking forward to working with in The Hunger Games? Or that you’d like to work with on other projects?
Willow: In Catching Fire, I’m excited to work with everyone. I’m not going to say anything, but I have some scenes with some other actors that I didn’t get to work with in The Hunger Games, so I’m really excited for that. Just in movies, some of my favorite actresses are Meryl Streep and Angeline Jolie and AnnaSophia Robb. So I’d really love to work with one of them some day. That would be incredible.
Q: Maybe one of them can find a spot in one of the Mockingjay movies.
Willow: That would be awesome. (laughs)
Thanks so much to Willow for taking the time to chat with us!