INTERVIEW: Which Catching Fire actor ties a perfect noose?

Nov 18, 2013 at 9:00 a.m. ET

We sat down with Finnick and Johanna to find out what kind of pressure they felt when playing these beloved characters and to hear what it was like working with Jennifer Lawrence.

We asked Sam Claflin how it felt when he found out he was going to play Finnick.

"I felt like I had just won the lottery as an actor. I mean, there's nerves involved because you want to make it as great as the fans expect it to be," he said.

When we asked Jena Malone about being a part of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, she said, "I had my own expectations of what I wanted it to be, but I just knew that this film would be bigger and bolder and just go deeper and darker and be even crazier. I mean, with Francis Lawrence helming it, I was just so excited. It was awesome."

Claflin said he felt a lot of pressure playing Finnick.

He said that once fans of the book heard he was cast in the role, "A lot of people's reaction was quite negative to begin with. I think they were just disheartened because every fan had a different image in their mind of what Finnick should be."

The Hunger Games' Sam Claflin is a married man >>

Malone added, "Well, they wanted you to instantly be Finnick."

Claflin continued, "There was definitely a period of transformation, and I definitely worked very, very hard to prove [the fans] wrong and to prove to myself that I could do it."

About working with Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson, Malone said, "Getting to hang out with them for 16 hours a day, you're just stoked! They bring such rad energy and they're so talented and respectful and down-to-earth and so funny and just awesome! I mean, I love them."

Claflin said, "I felt like I was at school again, really. Despite the hard work we put into it and the tough sort of terrains we were working with at times and the grueling days, it never felt like work. If ever you sort of felt like you were getting a bit down, Jen would fall over, so it was like 'Pick yourself up, you're not that bad.'"

When we asked the pair about physically preparing for their roles, Claflin said, "There was a lot of training in the gym and stunt training. I had to practice with a broomstick to get my skills with the trident up to scratch. There was definitely a moment, I think, when I was tying a noose for two hours in my hotel room, and I was Skyping my wife, and she said, 'Seriously, this looks so messed up.' And I was just talking to her, and she was like, 'Oh my god, this is just creepy.'"

Malone said, "I had worked with a stunt team before, so I knew what to expect — their regime of diet and strength conditioning and choreography — so I kind of just took to it like a fish to water. I love that kind of stuff."

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire opens Nov. 22.