Saturday, November 12, 2011

Vanity Fair Strikes Again! Gary Ross Interview!

Vanity Fair isn't quite done giving us Hunger Games interviews, thank goodness. Check out their interview with Gary Ross:

Krista Smith: Tell me—how did you get into The Hunger Games?
Gary Ross: I read the book. My kids turned me on to it, and I went nuts. I guess, about a year ago. I literally read it and said, “I have to make the movie.”
And what’s been the best part so far?
You rarely get a tentpole that has this much emotional depth, this much character to dive into. The character of Katniss is . . . incredible. Suzanne [Collins, the author of the books,] did such an amazing job, and painted such a vivid character that I think for me and Jen. . . . It was just exciting every day. Not just from a pure filmmaking perspective, but also just in terms of the depth of the acting and exploring the character.
How did you get Jennifer to play Katniss?
I was just a fan. When you do what I do, any time you see an actor like this emerge—I think everybody’s head sort of snapped, you know? Both from Winter’s Bone and other work that she’s done, I was just always very aware of her.  And then I had a meeting with her, and I was just as impressed, and then she came in and read for us and she sort of blew me away.  But I wasn’t totally surprised, because I think that an actor like this comes along, you know, once a generation.
I saw her in Poker House—that crazy Lori Petty movie. My friend Selma Blair plays the mother, and so I happened to go to a screening of it and remember going, “Who is this girl?”
Exactly. You have that response with everything—even The Beaver, you go, “Oh my God.” She has so much depth, so much power—she has so much that’s in her control at such an early age.

You also have Josh Hutcherson in the part of Peeta.

He kind of reminds me of a young Jack Lemmon. There’s this incredible versatility to him; he’s wise beyond his years, he’s sort of mature beyond his years, and there’s just such a natural ease to his acting. He’s so comfortable.
You’ve been nominated for four Oscars—is there a different kind of thing when you go in and you take on this kind of—

Piece of pop culture?

Well, it’s really just a responsibility to the material.  First and foremost, my responsibility is to Suzanne and the readers to give them the same experience they had when they read the book. Or two, even if it’s not the same experience, to sort of give them the same visceral sense they had when they read the book. I’m a fan of the books, so my expectations are just as high as everyone else’s—I loved the material so much that I wanted to do it justice. So it isn’t really that strange, because you want to live up to what the potential of the book is.  And I felt the same thing with Seabiscuit.  That’s really the biggest expectation.  
So in terms of what it is in the culture and everything, is there pressure? No more pressure than I put on myself to live up to what Suzanne has done.
Was she on set for all of it?
Yeah, she came down to the set, but we also collaborated on the last draft together.  I wrote a draft, and then Suzanne and I got along incredibly well, and did another subsequent draft, the final draft together. She’s wonderful.
When do you do most of your writing?
First thing up in the morning.  I fall into the chair, usually seven in the morning.  I probably write from seven to noon every day, and then I’ll sort of take a break and then edit the rest of the day when I’m doing a first draft.  I like to kind of get in there before I’ve had a chance to talk to too many people and have other things invade the day—when I’m freshest.
I’m reading the book now—I’m told once you start, you’re not able to stop.

Totally true. And also, [Katniss is] just such a compelling character, and her struggle and her evolution is so beautiful, and that’s what I’m saying. You see the character emerge and grow and have so much strength—she’s a very important character for kids, because she starts off purely in a fight for survival, and by the end of the story, she learns there’s so much more. There [are] things more important than merely surviving—like, what does it mean to actually live?
And Jennifer is just a great fit for it.

She has such command and control of what she’s doing, which is a raw, emotional power—it’s like looking into a blast furnace at times, and it literally can knock you back in your seat. And the rest of the cast, Stanley Tucci and Donald Sutherland and Woody Harrelson, were amazing.  I was just so lucky.

Head over to Vanity Fair to read the full article.