With The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 set to initiate yet another avalanche of cash for Lionsgate, the chances that anything newsworthy or unexpected would slip from attendees of the final Hunger Games Hall H panel were slimmer than one of Katniss’ arrows. So it was that the panel, attended by director Francis Lawrence, producer Nina Jacobson, stars Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth, and moderated by Conan O’Brien, was (at least structurally) a heavily managed affair.
But at least it was set up well by not one but two new trailers. The first was a stirring propaganda short featuring choreographed soldiers in formation around Lawrence, and the second was a standard-issue trailer with plenty of blink-and-miss-it moments book readers will recognize instantly, and plenty of J-Law being exceptionally heroic. Unshockingly, the 6,500-or-so fans crammed into Hall H went absolutely nuts over it.
Next came the panel discussion, with O’Brien uncomfortably joking more than once that the questions he asked were provided to him by Lionsgate. Given how they were phrased on his cards before he restated them, I’m guessing that was true: Even a question about one of the major events from the previous Hunger Games installment was coyly phrased to avoid saying precisely what it was discussing. Despite the fact that half the world has read all three books in Suzanne Collins’ YA series on which the film franchise is based, the studio isn’t taking any chances that spoilers might end up, uh, spoiling the hype-building machine barreling along to the Mockingjay Part 2‘s November 20 release.
Fortunately, the three stars of the franchise are charismatic, personable and, by all appearances, best friends. Their easy rapport made the discussion replete with almost-too-much candor and plenty of punchlines. Really, the panel was a long chance for fans and the cast to say goodbye to the series, feeling more like a drunken reunion than a proper discussion. Rather than belabor the point, let’s run down the funniest moments.
— Asked about her favorite moments from the series, Lawrence blanked. “God, well, uh, suddenly I can’t remember,” she said. O’Brien joked that the audience should offer their own suggestions. “I love you, Jennifer!” came almost immediately, to which Lawrence said, “Thank you, that was my favorite.”
— Asked about the journey of his character, Hutcherson began to talk about how Peeta is rehabilitated in Mockingjay Part 2. But was interrupted by Lawrence, who blurted out, “He couldn’t resist this” while pointing to her body.
— Liam Hemsworth began to talk about how his character interacts with Hutcherson’s in the film, but the discussion broke down into homoerotic bantering between the two actors, concluding with Hemsworth saying, “There’s a chance they kiss.”
— O’Brien mistakenly referred to Katniss’ weapon as a crossbow, to which Lawrence indignantly corrected him. “It’s not a crossbow, it’s a longbow, Crossbows are easy,” she said. Replied the moderator, “You just made a fool out of me.”
— Asked to whistle the iconic theme tune of the series, Hemsworth ruined it for everyone: “I gotta be honest, every time I do it it comes out as The X-Files.”
— Noting after one question that it’s been over a year since she did interviews and has lost her knack for it somewhat, Lawrence dripped with self-deprication. “The answer I have in my head is actually pretty interesting,” she said, then added, “thank you for your wonderful question. I’m sorry for my terrible answer.”
–Lawrence at one point mentioned that she started the series when she was 20 and that now she’s 24, prompting Hutcherson to add, “That’s like 40 in Hollywood isn’t it?” Lawrence concurred uncomfortably, and an audible “oooh” drifted in from the audience.