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Interview: Willow Shields for “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”

While the main focus of The Hunger Games series is on her older sister Katniss (played by Jennifer Lawrence), Primrose Everdeen (Willow Shields) is not one to be left in the shadows. Not only is Prim the catalyst that ignites the entire series’ main action (she was chosen to go into the Hunger Games to fight for her life but her sister Katniss volunteered to take her place), she also later becomes an important member of the Districts’ rebellion.

As a super fan of The Hunger Games, I was beyond excited to conduct a roundtable interview with thirteen-year-old Willow about the next film in the series, Catching Fire! We talked about which member of the cast she would want to be her “teammate” in the Hunger Games, the evolution of her character, her love of animals, and of course, her relationship with Jennifer Lawrence (including her memory of the first time they met)! Check out some highlights of the interview below and you can listen to the entire audio on Youtube!

Don’t forget to check out Catching Fire, which opens this Thursday, November 21 at 8 PM in theaters near you!

willow shields and jennifer lawrence the hunger games
Courtesy of Lionsgate

Travis (PunchDrunkCritics.com): Thanks for joining us. Is this your first time here in DC or have you been here before?

Willow: No, I have some family here. I have cousins here so I came when I was six but it’s been awhile so it’s nice to be back.

Travis: Your character, Primrose, evolves a lot (like Jennifer Lawrence’s character). They both go through a lot of changes. How would you describe Primrose in Catching Fire to how she was in the first film?

Willow: I have to say she’s grown up a little bit since the first movie. She was vulnerable in the first movie and now she has become stronger throughout the series, just like Katniss. I think she’s an exciting character because she’s very dedicated to becoming a doctor and that is her biggest ambition in life.

Lauren B. (ClotureClub.com): So in The Hunger Games and Catching Fire, well in all of the books and movies, Peeta and Katniss team up and it’s really good to be a member of a team. I was  wondering, if Prim (or you) were in The Hunger Games, which member of the cast  would you want to be on your team?

Willow: Ah, interesting! Definitely Jen. I mean, she would make everything fun! It would be fun to be in the Hunger Games with Jen, I mean, we would be joking around the whole time but we would totally thrive together.

Lauren B.: Yeah, I think that you would be a great duo.

Willow: Definitely.

Travis: Speaking of which, how was it working with her [Jennifer Lawrence] on set? You play sisters in the film, what’s the relationship like when you’re filming?

Willow: We’re like sisters on set. She’s amazing. I keep saying, and everyone keeps saying, she’s a complete nutcase but seriously in the best way possible. I don’t think  I’ll ever meet a greater… nicer, more fun person to be around than Jen. I love her.  She’s incredible and she’s such a great actress and it’s really fun to be around her.

Travis: Has she taught you anything because her career has really boomed since this thing started. Have you been taking pointers from her in anyway?

Willow: Yeah, I mean she’s always giving me advice. The one thing that I still remember a lot is she told me on the first movie, you know, these movies are going to get seriously huge.. just stay how you are right now because it’s perfect. Don’t change, don’t conform to the celeb image because that will change you completely. Just stay who you are. I remember that a lot and I think it’s great advice. She definitely gives me advice a lot.

Lauren Veneziani (DCfilmgirl.com): Obviously you bond with Jennifer during filming but offset and in between scenes, is there a particular cast member that you really bonded with making Catching Fire?

Willow: Jen, again. Almost all of my scenes are with her so we just connect on so many levels. Between scenes we’re just joking around, talking, having fun and we definitely… I mean, I would say we hang out the most onset.

Lauren V.: What about Jena Malone? I saw during press you did a couple of things with her…

Willow: Yeah! Jena is amazing. I actually wasn’t filming with her ever so I didn’t get to meet her until Comic Con recently, but she’s so sweet. I actually just recently met Sam [Claflin] too. I met him in London.

Lauren B: It’s so funny how that works.

Willow: Yeah! It’s like… I’m in the same cast but I still haven’t met you?! Like literally I feel like we’ve been onset on the same days and I’m leaving set and I’m like “That’s Sam! I haven’t even met him! Bye!” But literally I met him and he hugs me and says, “Friends at last!” It’s fun! I mean, the cast is awesome.

Lauren B: Well kinda building off of that.. you have a lot of new people… new actors and new characters in Catching Fire. Who were you most excited to meet or maybe most scared to meet? I’m sure some people are kind of intimidating.

Willow: Yeah! A little bit. I don’t know. I mean, I can’t say that I’m really that intimidated but I was most excited to meet Sam I think just because Finnick is such a cool character in the series and I thought he was perfect for the character so I was most excited to meet Sam because I heard he’s the greatest guy and he’s super nice.

Lauren B: With these big movies, they like to keep the sets on lockdown even though I read the book and I know there are a lot of big fans. How do they give you your script each day? Is it watermarked?

Willow: Is it in a safe?!

Lauren B: Yeah!

Willow: No. It’s kinda different for me because everyone else lives in L.A. and they probably bring it to them in person in L.A. But no, mine gets shipped to me when it comes and then they’ll ship rewrites… and then when I’m filming and they rewrite things, they bring it to the hotel and deliver it by hand. But yeah, it is pretty secretive but it makes sense. But, I mean, at the same time, it is that way that you’re like we know the story… But they still don’t want to give away certain things. But yeah, it doesn’t come in a safe.

catching fire cast liam hemsworth willow shields jennifer lawrence josh hutcherson
Photo Credit: jobspapa.com

Lauren V: I always wonder.. when you’re part of something this big and being at your age, for opening night do you go out and see the movie with your girl friends or do you go at a later date and get the fan reaction in the theater?

Willow: Last year I did go to the midnight showing and it was insaneeee! I tried to just kinda sneak in… did not work AT ALL! Do not do that guys. Don’t do it. Yeah, I went with my friends and family and it was crazy, I have to say. It was really fun but I’m hoping I can really sneak in this time because I think I’m going again and I really like it cause I’m a fan too so it’s like.. I get to see everyone dressed up and things like that. But I really have to crawl around on the ground to make my way to my seat I think. But once I get there it’s fine.. it’ll be dark.

Lauren B: People are like [points to screen…points to Willow]

Willow: They’re like wait a second.. that’s… you look like that person!

Lauren B: You’re like yeah, I get that a lot…

Willow: Yeah, I get that a lot.

Lauren B: So back to my hypothetical Hunger Games scenario…. If you, Willow, went into the Hunger Games.. what do you think your weapon of choice would be?

Willow: Oh, I don’t know…

Lauren B: Maybe your intellect? Your cunning? [laughs]

Willow: [laughs] Oh yes, I will be so smart….

Lauren V: Maybe those pumps!

Lauren B: Oh yeah, your shoes [from the London premiere]

Willow: Throw my shoes! No, I don’t know… I can’t say that I would be good with any weapons. I would probably just hurt myself by trying to use them.

Lauren B: Yeah, I think I would too.

Willow: I think my strategy would kinda be a running and hiding kinda thing. I think I could actually hide in some caves.. I can’t climb trees, though, so that’s a problem…

Lauren B: Work on camouflaging yourself like Peeta maybe?

Willlow: Yeah, but I can’t paint so that wouldn’t work.. so I guess it’s just hiding in caves. That’s my only option now.

Travis: … Do you see any reasons why The Hunger Games is able to [succeed] where other [movies of this genre] failed?

Willow: Yes, I think that The Hunger Games has everything for a wide range of audience. As an example, I’ve said this before, but myself as a fan of the books… I could say to my parents, “Oh, I want to go see this movie.” And without them reading the books we could all go. I will enjoy it. My parents will enjoy it and my grandma will even enjoy it. You know what I mean? So it totally… anyone can see it whether you’ve read the books or not. It’s a great movie if you haven’t even read the books and I think it’s just got a great storyline. Suzanne Collins created such an incredible world that you really want to see it on the big screen and see everything as a reality. So I think there is something there for everyone definitely.

Lauren B: So Prim is a big animal lover… she had a goat and then Buttercup… I was wondering if you are an animal lover too? Do you have any animals at home?

Willow: Yeah, I have 4 dogs and a cat. I used to have more animals. I mean, when I grew up, I grew up with ducks, geese, a goat actually for awhile! I don’t really remember him… I can’t really remember him well. So yeah, I grew up around animals all the time and I love animals definitely.

Lauren B: Yeah and probably Buttercup will have a bigger role in Mockingjay.

Willow: Yeah, Buttercup is going to get some great screen time definitely. That cat is going to have like a leading role. He’s going to get a lot of leading roles from this movie.

Lauren B: I bet! Have y’all started filming Mockingjay?

Willow: Not yet. I’ve just done some costume fittings and things like that.

Lauren V: You’ve mentioned Suzanne in your last answer. Did you ever talk with her about her vision of Prim and did she ever give you any type of character insights that may be personally for you… that maybe fans and readers might not know?

Willow: Not so much about my character but I have talked to her a lot about the series in general and her vision. When I first met her she told me “Seriously, you are the perfect person for Prim. I can not see anyone else playing this character. Right when I saw your audition, I knew you were the one.” So she’s really sweet in that way and I’m so happy I’m able to fulfill her dream for that character in the movies. I haven’t really talked to her a lot about the character but I have talked to her about the series and she’s done such a great job writing this series. Everyone loves it.

Lauren B: So when you were first cast in Hunger Games, did they have you and Jennifer do any bonding activities to see…?

Willow: [laughs] No. So I was super nervous going into the first movie because I did none of that whatsoever. Actually, the first time I met her I went into LA for my callback for the audition and I did it and they told me I got the part. Literally ten minutes after, they were like, “Go to costume fittings.”

Lauren B: Are you serious?

Willow: So I’m L.A. in costume fittings and I was in a little dress I had worn to the auditions and I have two braids and I go in and there’s Jen doing her costume fitting. That’s when we met for the first time and she looked like Katniss! She had her leather jacket on. She had the bow and arrow on and it was like woooo! It’s perfect!

Lauren B: They just kinda threw you in?

Willow: They just threw me in there…

Lauren B: You wouldn’t know it!

Willow: Jen was so inviting and she was like, “Yep, you’re my sister.” It was great.

Our Interview With Hunger Games Star Willow Shields

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