In this Moviefone interview, Gary Ross talks about Suzanne Collins, Catching Fire, and Steven Soderbergh. We've included some cool parts of the interview here, *BUT BE WARNED* if you read the actual article on the Moviefone site there are MAJOR spoilers about one particular scene!
But you can feel free to read what we've put here, you'll find no spoilers in this post!
On Directing Catching Fire-
I'm attached to the next one. I'm looking forward to it. Simon Beaufoy, ["Slumdog Millionaire"] who's a writer I've been a fan of for a long, long time, is doing the script. We had great meetings with him when he was here in LA. And I'm really excited about that. I can't write the "Catching Fire" script right now because I'm finishing ["Hunger Games"], and we're on a schedule where the script has to get written right now. So I'm unbelievably fortunate that someone like Simon is going to be writing the script. That was the person I wanted to do it. One of the great things about this is that you get to work with people that you respect and you love and I think I'm at a point in my career where that's exciting for me. Would it be great to have time to write the script right now? Yeah. But I get to work with Simon Beaufoy. That's a thrill. He's somebody that I respect and I just love his work.
Casting Donald Sutherland and Elizabeth Banks-
Donald I just thought was right for the part. He and Elizabeth Banks both wrote me letters based on the book, where they said, "Listen, I think I'd be great for this part for this reason." I'd worked with Liz before [on "Seabiscuit"]. I was thinking of her already. So that was easy. But with Donald, he wrote such a compelling case for who this man was and what this kind of autocratic power did and the imposition of his kind of authority and what this sort of fascism really was, that not only did I cast him, but I ended up writing two more scenes based on that letter. It was a really amazing story because I'd already cast him, then he wrote me another letter about how he felt the character related to this world. I was shooting it in Asheville in the woods and we were by this beautiful lake. And I wandered down to the edge of the lake as I'm reading his letter on an iPad and thinking, "Wow, this is so intelligent and so sophisticated." It departed from the way he would play his character into what the nature of this power really meant. And there was a clearing by the lake and there was this one white folding chair there and I thought, "Well, that's sort of a sign I should go sit in this chair and think about this." And I did and I came up with these two scenes that are really kind of pivotal in the movie as a result of that email. That's what you want when you make a movie. You want these happy accidents and you want it to be a conversation with the people you're working with. That was kind of a sublime little moment.
Working with Suzanne Collins--
I would never give myself carte blanche to make changes. My job is to faithfully adapt something I love and to get at the essence of what I love about it. It's incredibly compelling. It's wonderfully urgent. It's the beautiful evolution of a girl into a leader as she matures under very extraordinary circumstances. So it wasn't so much about having carte blanche, but finding the most deft way to get at the essence of the story. So I wrote a draft of the script and then I sent it to Suzanne. We'd talked about it a bunch and she responded really, really favorably to the script. And then she came out to California so we could talk further and she had wonderful thoughts about it. And we started pitching back and forth and she was bringing a whole new layer in her insight because she had obviously lived with these characters a long time and before we knew it, we were working together. it wasn't like I invited her in to work on the next draft with me, it just evolved. So I said, "Well, this is crazy. You're not giving me notes, why don't we just write the next draft together?" And she said, "Great." So we locked ourselves up in a room and wrote the next draft of the script. Which was great for me, because I hadn't had a writing partner since Anne Spielberg on "Big." And I loved writing with someone again. That was a fun, special, really unique experience.
The Violence in the Film-You can read the rest of the article HERE, but READ AT YOUR OWN RISK! SPOILERS!
I think that there's a way to be as urgent and as compelling as the book is without being lurid or indulgent with the violence. If you tell the story from Katniss's point of view, which is what the job is, then you're in a perspective where you never become lurid or fetishistic about the violence. It's a horror going on around her, but that can be done in a way that is very precise and select and even sparing at times without sacrificing any of the urgency or the immediacy of it. So no, it's not done for the rating. It's pretty intense. I've had people see the movie and they said it was more intense than they even expected. But it's PG-13. It's not gratuitous in any way. It's just appropriate, I feel.