President Snow himself, Donald Sutherland, is talking to Movie Fanatic about The Hunger Games, and specifically, how enamored he is with Jennifer Lawrence’s talent. “She’s so brilliant. God, it’s quite breathtaking,” Sutherland said. He even suggested to the actress that she should alter her moniker to mirror an iconic actor. “I said to Jennifer, ‘You really should change your name. You should call yourself Jennifer Lawrence Olivier.’ What comfort you get watching her. You get the same kind of comfort you get when you sit watching, years ago, Marlon Brando’s films. I’d be way up in the back of the cinema watching and you had such comfort because you knew that no matter what, right or wrong, you were going to be in the hands of someone who would take you into a fantasy that was just lovely. And she does that.”
When it came to finding the personal drive that his character has to send kids into a battle to the death, he was reminded of a certain U.S. president. “LBJ, how many kids did you kill today? It’s not that difficult to come to a position where you have to make choices and people die as a result of your choices,” Sutherland recalled.
The legendary actor had not read the Suzanne Collins books (What are the Top 10 Book Adaptations?), but when he received the Gary Ross-written script, he was awestruck. “I haven’t seen a script that made me feel like Battle of Algiers or Paths of Glory or Spartacus. I haven’t seen a script that I thought could motivate or catalyze a generation of young people who have been, I guess politely, dormant, that I thought could maybe be inspired by the example of Katniss Everdeen,” Sutherland said. “She (Collins) has written a terrific allegory for our state, the state of this union, and maybe they will stand up and recognize. Occupy Wall Street recognized the fact that they live in a particular kind of political structure that needs some change and maybe they’ll do it with this movie.”
What also struck the veteran actor was the even keel that Ross possessed working as the film’s director. Given the demands of a book series that so many have inhaled, the pressure had to be immense. “This book has sold 30 million copies, so it’s a movie in 30 million imaginations. And what Gary Ross has done with this film that he has made, he has perfectly replicated the movie in all those imaginations. It’ll be seamless,” Sutherland said. “They have read the book, they will see this movie and they won’t actually see the difference. He’s done a fantastic job, really extraordinary.”
When Sutherland read the story, the powerful intellect President Snow possessed rose to the top for him. “He has that kind of adept facility to see through all the complexities of governing,” he said.
But, the actor believes that President Snow knows that a threat to his reign is coming. Snow doesn’t know what form it will take until Katniss Everdeen walks into that arena. “He’s waiting for someone. You know, he wasn’t there at the beginning. He didn’t design this government. Hunger Games is not a part of his government -- he was two years old when that started. But he’s waiting for someone to come out of the woods, some revolutionary. When he sees that it’s Katniss Everdeen, this genius of a Joan of Arc girl, he knows it has started. That business where she picks up those berries is an act of genius.”