Jena Malone on Becoming Johanna Mason

Photo by Jena Malone

Photo by Jena Malone

“She has this intensity. She can walk into a room and stare you to death.”

That’s how actress Jena Malone describes her character, Johanna Mason, in her next film, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, the sequel to last year’s The Hunger Games. Johanna is the victor of a previous Hunger Games, and she — along with Katniss Everdeen — is going back into the arena for the 75th Hunger Games. Johanna won her contest by pretending to be no threat to the more powerful players, who considered her weak and vulnerable. And when the others dropped their guard, that’s when Johanna attacked — with axes!

Anyone who knows me knows I’m the furthest thing from fashionable and do not make a habit of perusing beauty magazine websites — but when Jena is involved I make exceptions. And I’m glad I did, because Vogue Daily has an interesting interview with Jena about transforming herself — physically as well as mentally —  into Johanna for Catching Fire. (She also goes on at length about her beauty regime, but you’ll have to go to the website for all that if you’re interested.)
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Jena Malone ‘Scared the Hell Out of Them’

Johanna Mason — the deceptively cute and deadly victor from District 7 — was the breakout character from Suzanne CollinsCatching Fire, the second volume in the Hunger Games trilogy, so the competition for the movie role was long and intense. Luckily (for her and for the franchise), Jena Malone was the last woman standing and won the role.

Here, she mentions the competition in an interview with Glamour magazine:

Glamour: Was your part in The Hunger Games tough to get?

Jena: I know they saw every single actress from here till Tuesday. They wanted to find someone who didn’t just physicalize this character but could also scare people. I don’t know what I did – I guess I just scared the hell out of them.

Um, maybe the producers heard that you dead-lifted 235 pounds during training for Sucker Punch and decided it was safer to give you the job?

Here’s a look at Jena doing publicity — with director Francis Lawrence and co-stars Willow Shields (Prim) and Jeffrey Wright (Beetee) — for the film at San Diego Comic-Con.

Catching Fire Trailer Adds Some Sizzle (But Not Enough)

While the new trailer for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is better than the inane “cackling supervillains” clip released a while back, I’m still not as impressed as I want to be. The new trailer still concentrates on the dull victory tour/rumblings of revolution first half of the novel and leaves fans panting for snippets of the actual Quarter Quell. I know the meaty action of the film is being held back for future trailers, but it’s frustrating.

And no, I’m not just disappointed that Jena Malone’s axe-wielding Johanna Mason is only briefly glimpsed… okay, well maybe a little. But it’s not just that, okay?

On the plus side, I can envision an entire “Meet the Victors”-themed trailer that would give us beauty shots of all the participants in the 75th Hunger Games, not just Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson). That could definitely work.

Catching Fire: Quarter Quell Character Images

Folks looking forward to this fall’s sequel The Hunger Games: Catching Fire have had to subsist on some pretty meager crumbs leaking from the film’s production, some “meh” poster images and a… well, a modest teaser trailer. Let me assure you it has been tough to be content with lukewarm  Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson content when the real interest is in the new characters set to be introduced. Especially Jena Malone’s Johanna Mason!

A while back we were rewarded with some excellent and evocative posed character shots in fancy dress that whet our appetites, and now, with a large presentation at the San Diego Comic-Con slated for Saturday, we finally get shots of the victor tributes in their 75th Hunger Games uniforms.

For the most part, these images look great — though I do believe the Photoshop is a bit off when comes matching the head/body proportions for Finnick and Beetee — and make you want to see these characters in action. And I must say the Johanna image was worth the wait…  Jena looks every inch as sexy and dangerous as I was sure she would back when she was first rumored to be up for the fan-favorite role. Katniss (and Jennifer) better watch her back!

Early Catching Fire Photos

The sequel to The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, started shooting earlier this month, and from the looks of these set photos, it would appear the filming is starting with some area action — even though the production is in Atlanta, not Kauai. Well, they must be doing non-water, non-jungle scenes.

Here we see a behind-the-scenes photo of Jena Malone, who plays Johanna Mason. Looking good, Jena!

But no one is worried about her; the big concern for fandom is the colorless Sam Claflin taking on the role of Finnick Odair, the charismatic and dashing victor beloved by many a reader. He may look the part, but can he handle the acting?
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Finally Official: Jena Malone Is Johanna Mason

After weeks of almost-cruel teasing, Lionsgate has finally confirmed the casting of Jena Malone as Johanna Mason in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire — as well as the two movies adapting Mockingjay. And I could not be happier! I love Jena and think she will be a hit with fans of the books.

Johanna, the Tribute with “a wicked ability to murder,” is a fan-favorite character, and the hiring of Jena, a serious actress with top-shelf fighting skills, sends a strong message about the filmmakers’ intentions to do right by the book and the fans. Jena is perfect for the role — when I was reading Catching Fire, I was personally imaging either Jena or Emily Browning in the role. Jena can convey both the vulnerability and the savagery that Johanna used to manipulate and then kill her fellow tributes and win her Games.

For a little taste of the kind of action chops Jena is bringing to Johanna, check out this short clip of Jena as Rocket from Sucker Punch:

Did you notice that little smile before Rocket stalked down the trench, and then how she wielded her pistol like a hatchet?
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Mockingjay Gets Chopped in Two

What we have all feared has come to pass: In a shameless, cynical money-grab, Lionsgate has announced that Mockingjay, the third novel in Suzanne Collins’ acclaimed YA trilogy, will be split into two movies, with The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part One slated for release on Nov. 21, 2014, and Part Two penciled in for Nov. 20, 2015.

After all, the Harry Potter series and Twilight both split their final books, so in the monkey-see, monkey-do world of Hollywood, The Hunger Games has to do it, too. If nothing else, the producers probably feel they’ll get a good opening-weekend gross from Part Two.
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Hoffman is Heavensbee

Philip Seymour Hoffman has officially signed on the dotted line to appear in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire — and, presumably, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, parts 1 and 2, according to Lionsgate Films. Hoffman will portray Plutarch Heavensbee, the new Head Gamemaker who takes over after the debacle that was Seneca Crane’s 74th Hunger Games (in the first movie). Plutarch has the task of creating the 75th Hunger Games, which will be a special Quarter Quell.

The casting means at least one Oscar winner will appear alongside Oscar nominee Jennifer Lawrence’s Katniss Everdeen in the first sequel to The Hunger Games. Production on the follow-up is set to begin in September for a November 2013 release, so additional casting should be coming quickly now.
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Jena Malone May Land Catching Fire Role

Entertainment Weekly broke some great news about that Hunger Games sequel, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, specifically that Jena Malone (HATFIELDS & MCCOYS, Sucker Punch) is being considered for the key role of Johanna Mason, the wily victor of a previous Hunger Games.

Johanna’s weapon of choice is the axe, since she hails from District 7, which specializes in lumber. She won her game by pretending to be a helpless weakling — until she moved in for the kill! In the novel, the character is described as possessing “a wicked ability to murder.”

Jena would be perfect for this role, because she can play very vulnerable, and, with her thin frame and young face, she can look meek, too. But Jena is also wiry, and she kicked trainloads of ass as Rocket in Sucker Punch! No one would doubt that Jena’s Johanna is a threat! Jena definitely has the acting chops to play a terrific foil for Jennifer Lawrence’s Katniss Everdeen.
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