Sam Claflin and Jena Malone on a Miami Hunger Games: "I'd Be First to Drown"
©2013 Lionsgate Sam Claflin as Finnick Odair in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.
Through the soaring windows of the Mandarin Oriental Miami, it's hard not to notice the blue skies and matching azure water. Most people find Miami's beachy, serene views relaxing. But for fans of The Hunger Games, the vacation vista could just as easily conjure images of blister-forming nerve gas, vicious attack mutts, and a deadly countdown clock.
Those are just a few of the obstacles waiting for "tributes" inside an arena where they are tasked with fighting to the death in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, opening this Friday. The film's setting does have certain creepy similarities to local Miami topography: a humid, jungle-like landscape anchored by a body of salt water. From their seats at the Mandarin, actors Jena Malone, who plays the bristly Johanna Mason, and Sam Claflin, as the womanizing Finnick Odair, agree. "From what I can see of Miami, I'd say yes, it's very similar," Claflin replies, gesturing toward the view.
Don't expect these stars to volunteer as tributes themselves, though. In a real-life Miami-set Hunger Games, Malone says, "[As Johanna] I would be good wherever you drop me... [but] me as Jena? Oh no, I would do horrible!" This town is too bright, too hot, and too humid, she explains — plus, she'd have to work on her bikini body.
Claflin's Finnick may come from a district that has a rich history of fishing and plenty of seawater and sunshine, he says, but "the sunshine would kill me... I'd fail miserably; I'd be one of the first to drown." Hailing from England, he's used to some chillier weather, so "give me some snow and maybe I'll be OK," he says with a laugh.
Antipathy for warm climates aside, Claflin didn't have much difficulty stepping into the role of Finnick. It doesn't hurt that he's easy on the eyes. In the novel, author Suzanne Collins describes him as "the handsome, bronze-haired guy from District 4." He's got that description covered.
"As an actor, stepping into the shoes of Finnick, by no means did I ever want to play the insecurities that he has," Claflin says, "because what actually makes him so popular and gives him the reputation he's got is the fact that he is just who everyone thinks he is, which is a confident exterior... I was just trying to portray him as best I could: the charm, the sexual nature of his being." Claflin interrupts himself with an oh-so-charming laugh: "I mean, I think I had [that part] already."