‘Hunger Games’ Director Had To Get In Katniss’ Head

'In order to walk in their shoes, you have to be oblivious to the things they're oblivious to,' Gary Ross says of telling a story from a character's perspective.
By John Mitchell, with reporting by Josh Horowitz

Gary Ross
Photo: MTV News

How exactly "The Hunger Games" director Gary Ross intended to bring the first-person perspective of the beloved book series to life on the big screen has been a lingering question for fans.

The books, for those not already familiar, tell the story of Katniss Everdeen, who is chosen as a "Tribute" to represent District 12 in the annual Hunger Games. Part twisted entertainment, part government intimidation tactic, the Hunger Games is a nationally televised event in which 24 tributes — one teenage boy and girl chosen from each of the country's 12 districts — must fight one another until only one survivor remains.

The books' narrative is written from Katniss' point of view, and that presented a challenge for Ross when he sat down to pen the script with co-writers Suzanne Collins (author of the novels) and Billy Ray ("State of Play," "Shattered Glass").

"You put your finger on the biggest challenge of the movie. That really is the question of the movie," Ross tells MTV News. "In any book you adapt, [it's] 'What's the essence of this thing, what's my first job?' The essence of this was, 'How do I stay in Katniss Everdeen's point of view? How do I get in her head in the way, or the cinematic equivalent of the way, Suzanne was able to do it?' "

For Ross, it came down to always being cognizant of what Katniss was and was not aware of in the world around her and keeping his lens trained on only those things.

"I thought about this a long time and what I realized about POV, about a character's point of view, is that it is really about restricting information to what the character knows and to not know more than they know," Ross says. "In order to walk in their shoes, you have to be oblivious to the things they're oblivious to, perceive things the way they perceive them. ... It's wandering through that world in that way and not knowing more than them."

Check out everything we've got on "The Hunger Games."

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