Long before Hunger Games: Catching Fire began filming, the race was on in Hollywood to land a role in the second installment of the buzzed-about series based on Suzanne Collins‘ bestselling books.
When Sam Claflin went to try out for Finnick Odair, the handsome, charismatic and clever District 4 tribute, he thought the competition was too tough.
“Finnick is supposed to be this godlike creature,” he told Glamour magazine’s September 2013 issue. “I remember sitting in the audition room and this kid walked in. He was seriously one of the most handsome men I’ve ever seen. And I was just, Nah, this is never going to happen.”
But happen it did. Claflin joins fellow new cast member Jena Malone – who will play the brutal District 7 tribute, Johanna Mason – in appearing alongside Jennifer Lawrence‘s Katniss Everdeen and Josh Hutcherson‘s Peeta Mellark in the anticipated Hunger Games follow-up, to be directed by Francis Lawrence.
“I know they saw every single actress from here till Tuesday,” Malone said of the casting team’s search for their Johanna. “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 scared the hell out of them.”
Once Claflin, who quietly wed girlfriend Laura Haddock recently, landed the coveted role, he had to physically transform into the strong, sculpted Finnick.
“I had chicken and asparagus every day for three months,” he said, adding it made Haddock “quite happy. I was sending my mom photos of myself, really buff. [Laughs.] That sounds so wrong!”