Sam Claflin on Playing Finnick in ‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1’ While Keeping His Hair Perfect
In ‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1,’ Sam Claflin reprises his role as Finnick Odair, the muscular former Hunger Games champion who was pulled out of retirement to participate in the Quarter Quell during the events of ‘Catching Fire.’ In the first part of ‘Mockingjay,’ Finnick is now in District 13 fighting alongside Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) as part of the rebellion against President Snow (Donald Sutherland).
When you speak to Claflin, he is nothing like his ‘Hunger Games’ counterpart—he comes across as humble (an adjective that does not at all describe Finnick Odair) and he doesn’t quite understand why anyone would want to make such a fuss over him. As Claflin says, ‘The Hunger Games’ has brought him a lot more attention, but he can still walk down the street—it’s not quite the same phenomenon that he’s witnessed happen to a few of his co-stars. Ahead, Claflin discusses his pivotal role in this ‘Hunger Games’ chapter—which includes a prolonged filibuster used as a distraction during a rescue mission—and he explains how Finnick, in the heat of battle, can still have such perfect hair.
I feel this has been a busy few weeks for you.
I appreciate you thinking I’m interesting enough to talk to [laughs].
No matter what challenge Finnick is facing in this movie—no matter what trial or tribulation—his hair always looks so great.
[Laughs] He gives a damn about his hair. That’s the only thing he does give a damn about. And I don’t think it does! I think maybe I was too aware of it. I swear to you, I must have been in the hair chair for about five minutes. They put a few products in, I literally ran my fingers through it, and it stayed that way, whatever way it was. We weren’t finicky about it. Yes, pun of the day.
Maybe you’ve discovered something, that you only need to spend a couple minutes on your hair.
It would actually work with a flick of my wrist. My hairstylist would put a bit of product in and, “do your thing.” I had a way of flicking it, “there you go.” But I never really looked at myself in the mirror as I did it and she went, “perfect.” Not much thought went into it in a great way. It was very natural and organic.
When Finnick gave a televised speech, trying to buy time for the rescue team, I bet people in the Capitol were like, “That guy has nice hair, I’m going to listen to what he has to say.”
[Laughs] He looks like he’s had Pantene in the commercial. “Wow, I’m going to go buy Pantene.”
I would trust Finnick Odair if he were on my television.
If you have good hair, that’s all that matters.
I assume the filibuster speech is all in the script, but that was a lot of talking.
It was. I can’t remember a word of it now. The way that me and Francis [Lawrence] had sort of talked about it, he had prepared what to say. He knew exactly what he was going to say. So, therefore, it was more of a rehearsed reading, if that makes sense. It was obviously due to be a distraction and, therefore, it’s not “Story Time with Finnick Odair.” He was pointing out a few obvious truths and a few not so obvious truths.
I think you just came up with your own spinoff movie, “Story Time with Finnick Odair.”
I’d love to say that will be ‘Mockingjay – Part 3.’
People don’t realize that’s the subtitle.
We can dream.
Yes, I can dream that I can make ‘Mockingjay – Part 3.’
Here’s what I like about Finnick. I like characters in movies that seem like they are going to be a dick, but they turn out to side with the heroes.
I still think he’s a dick.
Why do you think he’s a dick?
The challenge is, as an actor, is to make them lovable in a way—to make them empathetic or sympathetic. I think with Finnick, it was so easy because, having read the books, I was aware of where the character was going anyway. But the perceived double crossing in ‘Catching Fire’ all made sense to me—it’s a lack of confidence that makes him seem so confidant. The fact he is so insecure makes him put up a front as a way of surviving and a way of getting what he wants. He uses his looks to his advantage, but that’s about it, really.
‘Mockingjay – Part 1’ does feel like it’s very much setting up what we’ll see in the next movie.
Well, it is the beginning of the end, literally. I think while we were filming it, I was obviously aware of everything going on and everything that was happening around me—which makes this film even more frustrating.
Because I know what the audience has to come and I’m excited for the next one already and it’s a whole bloody year away. But, this film really does leave you wanting more. And it does set up the finale in a phenomenal way. We’re introduced to the new characters and we get to see District 13, which is why I’m kind of so glad that it was split into two. I think it really allows the audience time to really digest what they’re seeing in District 13. Whereas, if you try to cram it into one movie, then you see that for a matter of minutes—and I think the characters go deeper and the journeys go further. It can only be a positive thing.
‘Catching Fire’ was the same way, but this movie ends and you just want to see the next one.
But that’s what the books did for me. I’m not much of a reader. I can’t really read—I can’t read. [Laughs] No, I can read. But I don’t enjoy it. It’s not something I enjoy doing. For me, it’s work; a part of the job. I read these books in five days. But not because I had to finish them in five days, it was purely once I started reading them, I couldn’t put them down.
Do you get recognized now when you walk down the street?
It doesn’t really happen to me, honestly. I’m lucky to the point where I get to live vicariously through my colleagues. I see how Jen and Josh and Liam have to deal with their sort of level of fame. And, luckily, my personal and social life is kind of—I’m able to keep myself to myself and not have to deal with any of those sort of pressures or responsibilities of constantly being in the limelight. But, at the same time, when I go to events, fans do recognize me and they do inevitably kind of appreciate my existence, for some stupid reason.
You’re very humble.
No, I just don’t see how or why I am worthy of people’s attention. Which, as I say, I am not generally, which is great. But what’s sort of nice is that I can live a very, very normal life. But, at the same time, have the perks of meeting more important people and walking into some bigger rooms and bigger offices and, professionally, kind of moving my career forward without having to deal with that level of hysteria, basically. So, I’m very lucky, I think.
Mike Ryan has written for The Huffington Post, Wired, Vanity Fair and GQ. He is the senior editor of ScreenCrush. You can contact him directly on Twitter.