JOE meets Hunger Games stars Natalie Dormer and Sam Claflin
Not a single person has a bad word to say about Jennifer Lawrence, ever.
Anecdotes of how down-to-earth, funny and affable she is both on and off screen are endless. It seems her peers and co-stars share the same message that she is unequivocally the actress of the generation.
It was no different when we sat down with Hunger Games stars Natalie Dormer and Sam Claflin to discuss the fourth and final film of the series - The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2.
Although it’s protocol to be complimentary about the star of the series, especially when its such a lucrative one (the saga has made £1.5 billion in ticket sales to date) Sam, who plays Finnick Odair, says: "Katniss as Jennifer Lawrence is the perfect role model for the younger generation. There's no one better for the job."
It's true. Lawrence, 25, brings more balls and brutality to Katniss than ever before. She’s fearless but sensitive, outspoken but taciturn, she makes decisions from instinct, whether it's one to destroy the dystopian existence, or for her own (slightly cheesy) happiness at the end. Not that you want it any other way. You want her to win.
It's only now the trilogy is complete that we can breathe a sigh of relief and say finally we have a heroine of a fantasy saga. A revolutionary that kicks arse and keeps her clothes on. One who is strong, secure and doesn’t rely on a man/vampire/James Bond to save her. And one who is surrounded by strong, dominant men in equal measure. From Hollywood, that's rare.
"At the heart of the story is a hero who is not only reluctant to do what she is forced to do, people are trying to manipulate her to into making decisions and I think it’s very relevant of today’s society," says Sam.
"A lot of people are manipulated by social networking, core pressure, or an image of a certain person, or a look...being told you are meant to be something and having to portray yourself as something," adds Natalie, who plays the tough, skull-tattooed Cressida.
On a roll, Sam, 29, continues: "It’s realising what it is you want to fight for, and whether you are male or female or what age you might be, it’s about knowing who you are and feeling comfortable in yourself to be able to fight for that or speak up, or be heard and not to be afraid of who you are. I think so many people are scared about how they look or how they are perceived and judged on personalities, I think you should be able to speak up."
I was on the edge of my seat a few times during Katniss's quest to overthrow President Snow (Donald Sutherland), though not quite as much as the teenager sat next to me who was literally flying out of his.
Blood, brutality, war and death, it's all in there with explosives from start to finish. Shooting was so physically and mentally demanding on the cast, Sam admits he almost reached breaking point a few times.
There's a long scene where Katniss and her 'squad' smash what seems like hundreds of lizard mutants to pieces in a sewer, which was particular gruelling.
"I think I speak on behalf of all of us when I say it really was a tough shoot, he reveals. "We spent weeks sprinting through the streets and sewers, humid, really horrible conditions in the sewer, yeah, I nearly reached breaking point a few times..."
Natalie, who also plays Game of Thrones' splendid little deviant Margaery Tyrell, adds: "Whenever anybody was having a bad day, or feeling tired or weak or morale was low... that's the thing about working in a squad, you do bond, I know that sounds like a wanky thing to say, you do help each other out when someone is having a bad day."
After years of filming together it's hardly surprising actors have formed strong bonds, particularly Jennifer, Liam Hemsworth (Gale) and Josh Hutcherson (Peeta), who have said they slept together "like puppies" and "just held each other and cried" on the final night of shooting.
Natalie and Sam didn't join in on the sleepover however, they said their goodbyes at the hotel bar.
"Life mirrors art in so far that we had our last days in dribs and drabs so our weepy moments and the 'I love you' were at the bar at the hotel for around the last month when we were shooting in Berlin, explains Natalie. 33.
Ipswich-born Sam adds: "We were all pretty prepared, we all read the books and knew the end to the trilogy, but it was sad to say goodbye to a character I've grown to love but also the cast and crew who you have got to know over the last few years, but it's exciting to see where everyone goes from here..."
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay- Part 2 is out in UK cinemas on Thursday, November 19.