Catching Fire about to Set Actor Ablaze; Sam Claflin's Muscular Turn in the Hunger Games: Catching Fire Is Set to Propel Him to Stardom. the Actor Tells JAMES MOTTRAM about the Gym Sessions and Sacrifices That Go into Playing 'The Most Beautiful Man in the World'

The Chronicle (Toowoomba, Australia), November 21, 2013 | Go to article overview

Catching Fire about to Set Actor Ablaze; Sam Claflin's Muscular Turn in the Hunger Games: Catching Fire Is Set to Propel Him to Stardom. the Actor Tells JAMES MOTTRAM about the Gym Sessions and Sacrifices That Go into Playing 'The Most Beautiful Man in the World'


WHEN the casting call went out for The Hunger Games' Finnick Odair, the womanising "peacock" from Suzanne Collins' dystopian trilogy of best-selling novels, Sam Claflin let out a little groan. "I remember reading an email saying they were looking for a tall, tanned, blond, green-eyed, chiselled god," he says. "And I walked into the audition -- English, fat, stubbly, dark hair and very white. Part of me gave up hope there and then."

Claflin, 27, is being super-modest. Just look at his Adonis-like bare-chested opening scene in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, the second of four films adapting Collins' books. With pecs to put Brad Pitt to shame, the results of Claflin's training regime -- five hours a day for three months in the gym, a diet of protein shakes, egg-white omelettes, and chicken and asparagus -- are there for all to see. "I wasn't socialising much, I wasn't drinking," he says, "which for me as an Englishman was very tough."

Now, with Catching Fire about to set him ablaze, he might need the odd tipple to calm his nerves. "I've literally got no idea what could happen or how much my life will be affected," he says. Whatever happens, he's well-aware of the cult around Finnick, a former winner of the so-called Hunger Games -- the story's televised "sport" where teen "tributes" fight to the death. "So many people have their views on who should play that person and somehow I got the job. There's a lot of pressure. He's a fan favourite -- and the most beautiful man in the world."

When we meet, Claflin is understandably embarrassed to live up to this. Dressed in a grey jacket and black jeans, his green eyes full of zest, he's lost a little of the gladiator-like shape his body took on, having been on a juice diet for three weeks. "I'm just trying to not look as buff," he says, blushing as he says it. "Not that I am buff by the way. I'm kidding! Like I'm so hot... No! I'm trying to look a bit more ordinary -- a few pies and pints."

Quite what the largely American cast of The Hunger Games made of this awfully nice Brit is hard to say. He clearly found them strange. Before shooting began in Atlanta and Hawaii, he went to a party hosted by Jennifer Lawrence, the Oscar-winning star of the franchise, who plays Finnick's Games rival, Katniss Everdeen. "I walked in as Jen was shoving a sock down (co-star) Woody Harrelson's throat screaming at him. I was like 'What the hell is going on?'"

At least being away from home allowed Claflin to focus his attention on the movie. It kept him from his partner, actress Laura Haddock, whom he married in July and is "a distraction", he says. "In a good way, obviously." They met in an audition room, Claflin falling for her charms immediately. "She's my female counterpart," he says. "She reminds me of my mum so much."

They certainly make for an exciting pairing. …

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Catching Fire about to Set Actor Ablaze; Sam Claflin's Muscular Turn in the Hunger Games: Catching Fire Is Set to Propel Him to Stardom. the Actor Tells JAMES MOTTRAM about the Gym Sessions and Sacrifices That Go into Playing 'The Most Beautiful Man in the World'
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