- Suzanne Collins got the idea for the books while flipping between war coverage and reality shows.
- Many actors, including Emma Roberts and Evan Peters, reportedly tried to get cast in the films.
- Liam Hemsworth said Jennifer Lawrence used to purposely eat smelly foods before their kissing scenes.
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Millions of copies of the “The Hunger Games” book trilogy have been sold around the world and the successful series is also a four-movie box-office sensation featuring stars like Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, and Josh Hutcherson.
But even if you’ve read the books a dozen times and watched every film, there are some interesting, behind-the-scenes tidbits about the franchise that you might not know.
Here are 12 surprising things you probably didn’t know about “The Hunger Games” books and movies:
Author Suzanne Collins said she got the idea for the books when she was flipping channels on TV
In 2008, Collins told the School Library Journal that the idea for “The Hunger Games” – a story about children who compete to the death for the thrill of viewers – came to her when she was watching TV one night.
“I was channel surfing between reality TV programs and actual war coverage. On one channel, there’s a group of young people competing for I don’t even know and, on the next, there’s a group of young people fighting in an actual war,” she said. “I was really tired and the lines between these stories started to blur in a very unsettling way. That’s the moment when Katniss’s story came to me.”
The dystopian nation’s name, ‘Panem,’ could have a lot of significance
Katniss’s story takes place in a dystopian nation called “Panem,” which is the Latin word for “bread.” But the name could also have roots in the Latin phrase “panem et circenses” – which means “bread and circuses.”
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, this phrase means “sustenance and entertainment provided by government to appease public discontent.” Considering “The Hunger Games” is largely about the public’s discontent about a lack of government-provided food and a sadistic form of government-mandated entertainment, it probably wouldn’t be a huge stretch to say this phrase could be linked to the fictional nation’s name.
Jennifer Lawrence was cast as Katniss Everdeen but a lot of famous actresses auditioned for the role
Some of the stars who were tested for the leading role were Abigail Breslin, Shailene Woodley, Hailee Steinfeld, Saoirse Ronan, and Emma Roberts, a source at Lionsgate confirmed to Entertainment Weekly in 2011.
A few famous actors reportedly tested for the role of Peeta, although Josh Hutcherson would eventually become the beloved character
Hutcherson was eventually chosen and, in 2011, Collins shared that she had a good feeling about him from the beginning of the audition process.
“Three lines into the read I knew he’d be fantastic,” she said in a statement to Entertainment Weekly. “[He] totally captured Peeta’s temperament, his sense of humor, and his facility for language.”
Lawrence said she wanted to make sure her character Katniss was ‘healthy and fit’ in the movies
“In the first movie, when it was obviously being talked about, like, ‘It’s the Hunger Games, you have to lose 10 [pounds],’ I was like, ‘We have control over this image, we have control over this role model. Why would we make her something unattainable and thin?'” Lawrence told SciFiNow in 2013.
“This is a person that young girls – well, all women, but mainly young girls – will be looking up to and are going to want to look like her, and we have control over it, so why not make her strong?” she continued. “Why not make her beautiful and healthy and fit?”
Following the first film’s release, young people had an increased interest in archery
Katniss’ weapon of choice is a bow and arrow and, soon after the first movie of the series was released, young people all over the world began to express an interest in archery.
“You’ve made archery hot. For pretty much the first time ever, in modern-day America,” USA Archery, a governing body for target-archery events, wrote in a 2012 letter to Suzanne Collins that was published in Fitness magazine.
USA Archery wrote that, because of the franchise, it saw increased participation in Junior Olympic Archery Development clubs across the country.
In 2013, NPR reported that many teenage girls had begun participating in archery largely because of Katniss Everdeen and “The Hunger Games” movies.
Parts of the movie were shot in North Carolina and you still can visit some of the filming locations
Hemsworth said Lawrence used to purposely eat smelly foods before their kissing scenes
In 2014, on “The Tonight Show,” Hemsworth told Jimmy Fallon that Lawrence made “a point of eating garlic or tuna fish or something that was disgusting” right before the pair’s kissing scenes.
“Right before the scene she’d be like, ‘I didn’t brush my teeth.’ I’d be like, ‘Great, I can’t wait to get in there and taste it,'” Hemsworth told Fallon.
The character Katniss is named after a plant
“[Katniss] was a born archer. Her name came later, while I was researching survival training and specifically edible plants. In one of my books, I found the arrowhead plant, and the more I read about it, the more it seemed to reflect her,” Collins told The New York Times in 2018.
“Its Latin name has the same roots as Sagittarius, the archer,” she explained. “The edible tuber roots she could gather, the arrowhead-shaped leaves were her defense, and the little white blossoms kept it in the tradition of [other characters’] flower names, like Rue and Primrose.”
All three of the main actors in the films had to dye their hair for their roles
According to Today, in a 2013 interview with Yahoo! Lawrence said she chopped her hair into a pixie cut because dyeing it darker to play Katniss for two movies left it “fried.” She ended up wearing a wig in “Mockingjay,” the third movie in the series.
In 2014, Linda Flowers, hair designer and head stylist for “The Hunger Games” and “Catching Fire,” told Cosmopolitan that Hemsworth dyed his hair to play Gale and Hutcherson bleached and dyed his hair to play Peeta.
Effie Trinket’s entire look took hours to assemble
In a 2014 interview with Stylist, Elizabeth Banks, who played Effie Trinket, said she spent about three to four hours per day getting ready.
Hutcherson said that Woody Harrelson, the actor who played Haymitch Abernathy, used to tease Lawrence about her Oscar
While filming “The Hunger Games” franchise, Lawrence won an Oscar for her role in “Silver Linings Playbook.” At a press conference in 2013, as per The Guardian, Hutcherson told reporters that one of their “Hunger Games” co-stars used to poke fun at Lawrence’s achievement.
“Every time she would forget a line, Woody [Harrelson] would go, ‘Oh, better give that Oscar back,'” Hutcherson said.