Mockingjay's Breakout Star On His Rise To The Top

Photo: REX USA/AGF s.r.l./Rex.
Throughout The Hunger Games press blitz, the most common narratives perpetuated by the cast are that everyone gets along like peas and carrots, and they're all just so down-to-earth. And, while we can't attest to the veracity of their offscreen friendships (although this kind of chemistry is hard to fake), we can tell you that after meeting Sam Claflin, well, let's just say that is one salt-of-the-earth dude.
Claflin got his start as the stalwart missionary Philip Swift in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. But, it was his role in another major franchise that launched his career into the stratosphere. As Katniss' dashing frenemy Finnick Odair in Catching Fire, Claflin set the table for a much more crucial role in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1. Now, the 27-year-old Brit from humble beginnings finds himself on the brink of movie stardom.
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We caught up with Claflin to talk about that legendary Hunger Games camaraderie, the best advice he's ever received, and why after so many blockbusters, he still feels like a Hollywood outsider.
You’re still relatively new to this whole movie star thing. Do you ever feel like you’re on the outside looking in?
In Hollywood, I definitely don’t feel like I'm at home.
Not yet, anyway.
I don’t think I ever will. I see some things that some people take for granted, and I think how?
Like what?
Like a private jet, for example. Or, just a car picking you up from the airport. I’m still so used to getting into a taxi. So, when someone says, "Mr. Claflin, let me take your luggage," it’s still so weird, man! It’s so strange.
When did you notice that shift start to happen?
I remember getting in a car to drive me to the airport to go film my first job. I arrived at the airport and thought, I have no idea what I’m doing. I’d never got on a plane on my own. I had my passport and I knew where I was going, but I had no idea which airline I was going on, and luckily there was a woman there to greet me. She said, "This way, Mr. Claflin," and she checked me in, and it was insane! I don’t think I’ll ever get used to that; I’m lucky enough to have a support network filled with family and friends who are so detached from Hollywood.
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You strike me as the kind of guy who’s much happier in the pub eating a burger and drinking a pint.
Exactly. I’m so blessed that I don’t get noticed or recognized walking down the street.
But, that's likely going to change. Are you worried about losing your anonymity?
Well, I’m lucky enough that I don’t really look like Finnick Odair. It’s important to me that every character I play has his own identity. I don’t think I should be like, "Don’t touch the hair — I should have the hair exactly the same with every movie I do." I want to become someone new, I want to be a chameleon, and I’m lucky that this industry does offer you that opportunity.
Photo: Courtesy of Lionsgate.
How have your parents reacted to your sudden emergence?
I’d like to think they’re very proud.
It must be kind of mind-bending for them.
It’s so strange. They’re such ordinary people, and I sometimes invite them to share these experiences that I have. If I ever do start taking things for granted I invite my mom and dad and watch their minds get blown. They came up for my first premiere ever — which was for Pirates of the Caribbean — and Disney flew them over, and they’re walking through Disneyland on the red carpet, and they met Johnny Depp, and it was just so surreal.
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Were you more prepared for The Hunger Games press tour than last year?
I don’t think you can ever be prepared for that. Even Jen [Lawrence] is overwhelmed by it all. You just get swept up in it.
Do you secretly look forward to it?
Not secretly. I enjoy doing press — especially when you’re so passionate about the job you’re doing. I don’t understand why people do jobs that they’re not passionate about. I do understand that sometimes you need money and make sacrifices, but I've been lucky enough to only work on projects that I’ve wanted to do.
You do strike me as someone who’s very passionate about their work.
It’s important to me to do things I care about; it’s something my dad taught me. He said, "Just do films you would watch in the cinema. Why do a film that you know everyone’s gonna hate?" I’ve taken that advice from someone who’s not in the industry at all, and to this day, it’s the best advice I’ve ever been given.
So getting back together with the The Hunger Games gang feels like a high school reunion of sorts.
We only finished shooting at end of June, so it hasn’t been that long, but I get so excited to see all of them. It’s been long enough.
Do you guys engage in any post-premiere celebratory drinks?
We definitely socialize a little bit. We’re all good friends and it’s such an easy group to get along with. Even though we’re all different ages, everyone gets on like a house on fire.
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