An interview by Huffington Post UK:
Q: Could you briefly describe your character in The Hunger Games?
Haymitch is a mentor for the two characters who are going into the Games. He is grizzled and not exactly a teetotaller. In some ways he’s a little bit jaded, but under all that he is a wonderful person. To begin with, though, there is definitely a conflict with Katniss, the main character. That’s true. That is how it starts out.
Q: Haymitch looks like one of the most enjoyable characters to play…
I think he is a pretty fine character. I can’t think of any other character I have played like him. He is quite a unique character. Also he’s interesting because he’s one thing on the surface but then you find he is a little bit different, further down the road. He has that thing of people not being able to quantify him. I’m not sure if it required anything new of me as an actor. It is hard to say. You’re going to have to watch it and tell me the answer to that. Deep down there probably isn’t anything new [laughs]. It’s just me doing the same old sh*t!
Q: That’s not true! He’s not a very a social character, though, and does like a tipple. How did you pitch that into your performance?
That was kind of a discussion between Gary [Ross, the director] and I, because I always wanted to make Haymitch more drunk and debauched, but Gary wanted to keep a rein on it so that it wasn’t too much like that. In other words there are times when he had to get down to business so, yes, that had to be properly pitched. Me, I am always in general ready to go over the top with it, so it is helpful to have a director like Gary bringing me back.
Q: Presumably you got to inject some levity into the performance?
I certainly did. I tried and we will see if it comes off!
Q: What did you think of Jennifer Lawrence, your talented leading lady?
I think she is an amazing girl. She is incredibly funny. I was impressed with her wit. She is a fun-loving person, as is Josh Hutcherson. I know there’s going to be a lot of success for them in the future. I get a feeling that they’re going to be able to keep a handle on it and not change their personalities, though, as sometimes happens.
Q: Why do you think The Hunger Games books are so popular?
I think there’s something about the main character Katniss that everybody relates to. It’s really a story of survival and family and in that kind of way it speaks to everyone. Almost all the people I have talked to — those who have read the books — were profoundly impacted by them. Something resonates.
Q: It’s not a kids’ movie though, really, is it? It reaches out to way older audiences…
Yeah, I mean kids killing kids. It is quite an intense thing. It’s not just a kids’ movie though, or a tweens’ movie. It’s actually a P.G. rating in the States, but there is a good deal of violence in it.