Julianne Moore on her Hunger Games character: “I wanted to bring a human quality to her”

The actress takes us behind the scenes of Mockingjay - Part 1, and pays tribute to her late co-star Philip Seymour Hoffman

Mockingjay part one blasts Katniss and viewers alike out of the arena and into the realities of war, as an uprising against the Capitol grinds into action in this first instalment of the story’s climax. But actress Julianne Moore – who joins the cast as District 13’s President Coin – says the atmosphere wasn’t serious on set. 

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“We kept things very light. I loved working with them. Really funny, really nice, incredibly welcoming people. The set was not a serious place. Everybody made a lot of jokes. People made it really fun.”

Jennifer Lawrence is known for winding up her fellow cast mates but she wasn’t the only one making mischief, confides Moore: Woody Harrelson – who returns as mentor Haymitch Abernathy – ruined several scenes by making his fellow stars giggle. 

Moore’s character Coin is the president of a district long forgotten by most, who survives underground with little food and little light. Although she will be instantly recognisable to fans of Suzanne Collins’ books, Moore was keen to bring extra warmth to the character.

“I wanted to bring a human quality to her. In the books she’s really only represented from Katniss’ point of view. You don’t know who she is; [she’s] tremendously opaque. I wanted to give her an evolution as a human being and a political evolution as well. 

“So it was interesting to me that she’d been underground all these years, that she’d lost her family, that she was a female leader, that she had lived with this kind of incredible restraint – not a lot of food. Everyone in District 13 is described as being very thin, because they haven’t had any food for years and years.”

Moore says the cast and director Francis Lawrence were keen to be loyal to the book, so Moore’s famous red locks are nowhere to be seen – replaced by an impeccable grey ‘do. 

“Katniss observes that her hair is so perfect, she wonders if it’s a wig. I thought: well, there’s something to that. Someone who’s been underground that long who’s very thin, very quiet, but whose hair is that perfect – is that a clue to who she is?”

And is it a wig?

“It’s a wig,” laughs Moore. “It’s always wigs. When you go to the movies and you see something different, it’s always a wig.”

The excitement surrounding the film’s release has been tempered by the sudden death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman – who played Plutarch Heavensbee – during filming. 

“It felt awful,” Moore says. “It was a terrible, terrible tragedy and an awful loss. He really was one of our best actors and our hearts are broken for his family.”

There will be a dedication to the actor at the end of the film, which Moore found “really touching”. 

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 is in cinemas from 20th November

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