“No hazing, fortunately,” he said, laughing. Instead, he described “Catching Fire” as a great place to be, adding, “But to be a part of that, it was pretty cool. Jennifer’s star just continued to rise, even through production…it was just cool to be there.”
And not only was Alan not put through the wringer by his co-stars, he said that everyone, particularly the fantabulous Stanley Tucci (with whom he did his pre-Games interview scene), was “super-generous and giving.”
Meanwhile, the actor says that the scenes he’s most looking forward to seeing on the big screen are the same one the fans are likely clamoring for: the highly anticipated action sequences from the 75th Hunger Games.
“We shot some cool scenes,” he said. “I like the really physical kind of action stuff. I spent months training for this stuff, fight training, and becoming a dagger specialist. All those things in the arena are going to be a lot of fun.”
EW has sat down and talked to Alexander Ludwig, the one who plays Career Tribute Cato in the Hunger Games movie.
Alexander Ludwig as Cato
Prior to 2011, Alexander Ludwig was best known as the somewhat skinny kid with supernatural abilities at the center of both the 2009 Dwayne Johnson family flick Race to Witch Mountain and the 2007 fantasy film The Seeker: The Dark is Rising.
But to take on the role of the ruthless Cato — the deadliest tribute and rival to Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) in The Hunger Games — Ludwig says he put on roughly to 30 to 40 pounds, filling out the now 19-year-old Canadian actor into quite the imposing presence. In person, though, he still exudes a youthful squirminess, an inability to sit still for more than a few seconds, that renders his outsize bulk more sweet than scary. Check out our interview below:
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: When did you first know that there was an opportunity to be a part of this movie?
ALEXANDER LUDWIG: I heard about the film a lot earlier than most. I had a meeting with one of the studio execs. I had a dinner with them at the Beverly Hills Hotel, I think, maybe a year before they were going to make it. And she told me about the books and that they were thinking about doing a movie. I read the book and immediately fell in love with it. I just dedicated my summer to just physically and mentally getting into the role.
Did you know you’d be playing Cato right away? Originally, it was between me, Josh, and another guy for Peeta. And then when Gary called me and asked me would I like to play the role of Cato, I just jumped on the opportunity. Because I’ve never really played a bad guy, and I just thought it would be really, really fun, to just dive into the whole twisted psychotic-ness of it.
How much training time did you have between when you officially got the role and then started shooting?
About two weeks. But I had been training a lot before.
Just on your own?
What did you do?
Definitely I wanted Cato to have as much of a physical presence as he did a mental one on the screen. So I had to put on something around 30 to 40 pounds for the role. I’m still working really hard to get back to normal. It’s so much easier just to eat and workout than not eat and workout like crazy. It’s definitely tough, but it’s at least what I thought the character demanded, so I thought it was important.
Did you have a sense of how big this film was going to be?
Definitely not when I first heard about it. I think when it really hit me was when I came back to Vancouver for Thanksgiving, and there was press and fans outside the airport. That was the first thing. You expect that in L.A., but not really at home. That kind of smacked me in the face, like, God, this thing’s real. Which I’m excited about!
NEXT: Ludwig on tough workouts and what’s next for him
Cato is part of a foursome of “Career” Tributes that are especially chummy. How did all the tributes get to know each other and build that camaraderie?
I’m really happy you picked up on that, because that’s something we really wanted to come across. We thought that added to the sick and twisted-ness of it all, that they’re actually enjoying this. “This is fun!” And the reason that it is sick and twisted but at the same time you can understand, is that, that’s all they know. The careers were brought up to do this. Whereas everyone else is just kind of thrown into this so they know what they’re coming up against.
The camaraderie was something that just came naturally. You’re thrown into the middle of North Carolina, and you’re kind of in this bubble. And you’re spending almost every day with everybody.
It’s almost like camp.
Yeah, exactly! It’s like camp, but in nicer hotels. We did a lot of group workouts to build up that kind of camaraderie as well.
What kind of workouts?
Army workouts. We’d go to this warehouse where the studio was. We’d come in our gym clothes and have to flip tires and climb ropes and do these crazy workouts together and have races. Everyone knew each other pretty well.
You’d just turned 19 before shooting began, so you’re pretty close to Cato’s actual age. What do you make of all this, of taking the idea of a reality TV show and pushing it to this extreme of kids killing kids?
It’s definitely not something you see every day, and that’s definitely shocking. But it is not by any means this bloodbath. It really is about connection between characters and a really touching story. Of course there’s violence in it; there has to be. But I think the way it was translated was very much less about the violent parts, and more about the humanity [of the characters] and the indecency of this totalitarian government.
So what’s next for you?
I’m releasing a single. It’s called “Live it Up.” It was based on my Euro trip. I only write my own music. I don’t let other people write it at all. So I’ve been working on that a lot. There’s three singles coming out. The producer of The Fray who did their double-platinum album How to Save a Life, I’m working with him, he’s producing me. Then I want to go back to work and start acting again.
Alexander Ludwig Live it Up (Teenage Wasteland)
Alexander Ludwig Liv it Up (Teenage Wasteland) Lyics
Available from 7th Mar 2012
Alexander’s first single “Liv It Up”
Lyrics (Verse 1) After 3 Days in a cabin with our friends on the beach decided to pack up my jeep and head for the streets Eyes a little hazy Head was booming A clear result of all The Liquor we were consuming After doubling back To recover my phone We finally made it back To van city our home Cut to the airport All shook up and sad As I say farewell To my mom and my dad In the waiting room The lady calls out my flight Listen to baba’o’riley As I fly into night Realizing highschool Aint coming back A thousand miles away And were done with that Emotions start flowin As I ponder this My highschool life I will truly miss But all of this bliss Is gone in a flash As I arrive in London With my passport n cash Meet up with my buddy Whose eyes are lit we about to embark On our grand euro trip
We hop on a plane Going insane As we begin to kite surf In the south of Spain
Naked girls swim in the water I lay in the sand Turn to my buddy And outstretch my hand
Give him the fist bump And it comes to me quick Holly shit Life is way to sick
it’s a teenage wasteland out there liv it up, liv it up, liv it party hard like no one would care liv your life, liv your life, liv it gaze at the stars but shoot for them too no body can tell you what to do when all fought out if you start to doubt baby don’t
(Verse 2) Hit up Barcelona For a good 5 No drug on this earth Could make you feel so alive My buddy swings a Russian chick To which we high five All our way to Paris Where we crash for four nights We post up in Brussels As we’re on our way Stop at delirium café Where we park for a day And by park I mean drink In the dark as we sink In three liters of beers Laughing in tears So we make our way To Amsterdam And damn its about as crazy As I am Nothing to think about No cares in the world Just girls loving boys and boys loving girls 5 British cuties in a tub we end our night all looking for love and feeling alright overlooking the city we got nothing to lose so we open up another bottle of grey goose and when I think about this it comes to me quick holy shit life is way too sick
(chorus) it’s a teenage wasteland out there liv it up, liv it up, liv it party hard like no one would care liv your life, liv your life, liv it gaze at the stars but shoot for them too nobody can tell you what to do when all fought out if you start to doubt baby don’t
(Verse 3) we bungy in Swiss do Munich for a day finally decide to make our way to the beginning of the end join with another friend who accompanies us along the final bend and by bend I mean party and by party I mean hard so rally rally rally rally rally rally rally rally (solo) chug chug chug chug chug chug chug chug
Liv ur life, live ur life, liv ur life
in two weeks we do Greece with our peeps drinking heeps
dirty sheets and euro beats rocking mycanos, Ios and santorini streets what a trip I have to say I will never Forget these days Will your best friends Rocking out That’s what its All about
(Slow chorus) it’s a teenage wasteland out there liv it up, liv it up, liv it party hard like no one would care liv your life, liv your life, liv it gaze at the stars but shoot for them too nobody can tell you what to do and when all fought out if you start to doubt baby don’t and when all fought out if you start to doubt baby don’t