By Dana Matthews
It was the casting game that everyone was talking about, and Sam Claflin was the victor. During a break from a busy shooting schedule in Hawaii, the 26-year-old British actor dished about landing the highly coveted role of Finnick Odair, his intense four months of training in Atlanta (hello, six-pack!), working with Jennifer Lawrence, and his "bromance" with Josh Hutcherson. Read on for the exclusive first interview with the "Catching Fire" star.
TEEN VOGUE: Aloha, Sam! Congratulations on scoring the role of Finnick Odair. How did this all go down?
SAM CLAFLIN: Yeah, so they decided to go with me as opposed to any of the other young, hot, good-looking actors out there. [Laughs] I auditioned like everyone else. I didn't know what it was for before I went in, and I hadn't read the books. Looking at the page with a character named Finnick, I was like, Who the heck is Finnick? And then I saw Katniss on the page, and I was like, Ahh, OK, maybe this is "The Hunger Games." Then they decided they would dye my hair blonde, and presto, there's your Finnick Odair!
TV: Do you like your blonde hair?
SC: It's definitely taking some getting used to. I have a tan and a six-pack now after four months of hard work. I feel slowly but surely like I am Finnick Odair.
TV: Your training sounds intense!
SC: From the moment I set foot in Atlanta, they had me at the gym, working out twice a day. And then stunt training, it's nonstop. To be fair, I spend a lot of the film carrying an old lady on my back, as Finnick carries Mags for the majority of the arena scenes. I feel like every day of filming is a workout, running around Hawaii with little old Lynn Cohen on my back. As for my diet, I think I've eaten more chickens than there are in the world. [Laughs] I would eat chicken and asparagus for lunch and dinner, and for breakfast I'd have an omelet and oatmeal. And I had that every day for four months. I've talked to my friends and said, "Oh my God, I'm so depressed, I just want a burger." And they're like, "You don't know how lucky you are to be doing what you are doing."
TV: What makes Finnick such a great character to play?
SC: There are so many complexities to this character. Finnick has a tempestuous relationship with Katniss—she trusts him one minute, and the next she doesn't. I love their relationship. Together they eventually realize they need each other to survive, and that is beautiful.
TV: What is it like working with Jennifer Lawrence?
SC: Jen is the most talented actress I have had the pleasure of working with. She is truly amazing. She has everything already and doesn't have to try. But the fact that she is so professional and hardworking and willing to get her hands dirty makes her even more amazing.
TV: And what about Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth?
SC: With Josh, we hit it off from the first conversation we ever had, which was about soccer. He asked me if I like soccer, and I was like, Yes, I'm English! It kind of got blown out of proportion, spending time off set playing soccer. It's a definite bromance. I think I'm quoting him on that, or Jen. Unfortunately, Finnick and Gale don't ever cross paths in this particular film, so I've not really had the opportunity to get to know Liam very well. If he is anything like his brother Chris, which I'm sure he is, I'm sure he's a lovely, lovely guy.
TV: How is shooting in Hawaii, and what do you do on your days off?
SC: We're currently shooting a lot of the arena stuff. The wet suits are starting to get hot and stuffy. It's kind of a dream, really. We hang out, go to the beach. I tried surfing the other day. We play a lot of soccer and we go to the cinema. We just hang out like normal people. I think that's the most amazing bit I found from working with famous people: Everyone is kind of the same. You cannot expect them to be somewhat superheroes, trying on capes and broomsticks. [Laughs] Together, we're a very happy family.
TV: Sounds like a lot of fun. Are there pranks on set?
SC: Oh yeah. There are lots of tricks that we play on each other. Josh and I are currently planning on hijacking a chicken and hiding it in Jen's trailer. Whether or not that comes true, I don't know.
TV: After the film comes out, your life will definitely change. Are you preparing in any way?
SC: Finnick isn't Peeta or Katniss. I wanted to play Katniss, but they refused. [Laughs] I live in London, which is miles away from where those guys live. Therefore, it could be very different.
TV: What can we expect from Finnick? Can you give us a little teaser?
SC: All I can say is I try very hard and hopefully I won't disappoint people. He's a very charming physical being, and hopefully he will be exactly what people read in the book and I won't be doing an injustice. I purposefully did not want to watch anything I've done so far; I actually don't like looking at my face, so I don't like watching myself on the screen. It's an insecurity thing I have. I'm somewhat of a perfectionist, I think, and I strive for perfection. The reason I'm an actor is because I'll never be able to be perfect. I hope people enjoy my interpretation. Hopefully we'll make a bigger and better one this time around.