The Hunger Games saga comes to an end this weekend with Mockingjay – Part 2 hitting theaters. While we’re all sad to see it go, we aren’t sad about the opportunity we had to sit down with one of the actors from the film, Elden Hensen (Foggy Nelson from Netflix’s Daredevil series). Hensen plays the mute Pollux in Parts 1 and 2 of Mockingjay and we got to talk with him about his favorite on-set experience, working with Francis Lawrence and received confirmation that Jennifer Lawrence is just as awesome as everyone would like to believe!
Taylor Devorsky: How familiar were with the world of The Hunger Games before joining the movie?
Elden Hansen: [laughing] I hadn’t seen the movies or read the books although I lied and told everybody that I read the books and then after we started shooting I quickly caught up and then read all of them. But, I knew of them of course because my niece is a huge fan. She’s actually the first person I called when I found out I got the job and it was really adorable because she had some of her little friends spending the night at her house and I could just hear her friends screaming and going ballistic. So yeah, it was really cool to be a part of it and one of those things where you can’t believe you get to be a part of something so big and something that people already love so much.
TD: How were you brought to the project?
EH: I just lucked out, big time. I got a call from my manager at the time and he said, “Hey, how would you like to be in the next two Hunger Games movies?” And I thought, well while we’re fantasizing, I would also like a new house and maybe a car. But he was like, “No seriously, they made an offer.” It just kind of came out of the blue and I think it originated with [casting director] Debbie Zane who I had been auditioning for for years. I am forever grateful and indebted to her for bringing my name up and so thankful to Lionsgate and Nina [Jacobson] and Francis [Lawrence] for letting me play the role and it was incredible.
TD: Were you always in talks for the role of Pollux or were there any other roles you were auditioning for?
EH: Yeah, it was just literally I got a call and then around two or three days later I was in Atlanta and we started shooting. The first scene I shot actually was the scene in Mockingjay, Pt. 1 where we’re by the quarry and Katniss sings “The Hanging Tree” song. So it was just my first day and we jumped right in and I was just like “Hey Jen, [Lawrence] it’s nice to meet you and now we’re doing a scene together!” (laughs) It was intimidating but also pretty great. And she was great. She’s one of the coolest actors I’ve ever worked with. She has a great sense of humor and is a ton of fun.
TD: I’m assuming you’ll get quite a few questions today about what it’s like working with Jennifer Lawrence.
EH: Yeah! And you know what? It’s such a pleasure to be able to answer honestly and tell everybody that she’s amazing.
TD: So your character Pollux does not speak. What was it like to get into that headspace?
EH: Well, I did the research and went back and watched the first two movies and read the books. But really, it was something Francis said to me right before we started shooting. We were having dinner and I asked him “Is there anything that you think I should know that I might not get from the books about the character?” He said “No, it’s all in there but the important thing to remember is that with Pollux, even despite all of the horrible stuff he has been through, he still chooses to see the beauty in the world.” That really resonated with me, with where I was trying to come from while we were shooting. (Laughing) And then also, I was just surrounded by so many good actors that I just tried not to get fired!
TD: Speaking to that, what was it like working with this incredible ensemble cast and specifically with (director) Francis Lawrence?
EH: Francis is an incredible leader. He is always calm and clear and is a great communicator. He’s an incredible visual stylist and a great storyteller, and just made the process [of making the film] so easy. Another major reason of these films’ success is that Jen, Liam, and Josh and all of the cast members that were there from the beginning genuinely love each other. And I think that comes across on screen. And that environment of having fun and caring about each other while getting work done really trickled down to the rest of us. It really was just of the best times I’ve ever had making a movie and I’ve been acting for 33 years now. I didn’t want it to end.
TD: So did you have a favorite day or experience on set?
EH: There were a lot of good on set experiences. Working with Wes [Chatham] who plays my brother was great because no one has more fun on set than Wes does. He just turns into a little kid. There was an ongoing joke that Wes would just sit or lean on something that looked strong but, he broke a lot of stuff on set, so that was always really funny. But the general experience was great. When you work with a group of people for nine months, you really get to know them. One of the best things about this experience is that I gained some lifelong friends. My favorite sequence is this film is probably the tunnel sequence, despite the difficulty of it with all of the water and not being able to stand up straight.
TD: That is an incredibly claustrophobic sequence that is also filled with a lot of Francis Lawrence’s unique visual eye.
EH: And you know what’s really cool? Francis will sometimes listen to music when he’s shooting stuff, when there’s no dialogue in a scene. When we were shooting part of that tunnel sequence, he let me watch some of the playback. He gave me his earphones while I watched and it was first time I realized that oh my gosh, this is gonna be amazing. And when I saw it all finished, it was even better than I could’ve imagined.
TD: What style of music does he usually listen to while shooting?
EH: I think when we were shooting that particular sequence, he was listening to some stuff from the soundtrack from… What was the movie with Sandra Bullock when she was in space?
EH: Gravity! Yeah, he was listening to the soundtrack from Gravity, which has really intense music. He’s just such an interesting guy and he’s so talented. He came from that music video world so it makes sense that music helps him with his style.
TD: Finally, what are you up to next?
EH: Right now I’m finishing season 2 of Daredevil. I’m not sure what I’m doing in the new year but I look forward to Christmas. I have a one-year old, so I’m looking forward to spending time with him. There’s a lot of days where I get up to go to work before he is up and home after he is asleep so I’m looking forward to some father-son time!
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 hits theaters this Friday.