Before “The Hunger Games” was turned into a series of hit films, it was a series of young adult fantasy novels. The trilogy, written by Suzanne Collins, told the story of a dystopian world divided into districts where each year, two unlucky children from each district are forced to fight to the death in an event called “The Hunger Games.”
The series was a massive hit with teens and adults alike, so it was no surprise when it was turned into a big-budget film series. The franchise featured plenty of familiar faces, including Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, Elizabeth Banks, Josh Hutcherson, and Donald Sutherland. The production design of the film series was undeniably impressive. But nevertheless, the makeup and casting departments certainly took some liberties when it came to creating on-screen versions of our favorite characters from the books. Here is a breakdown of what the characters in “The Hunger Games” should have looked like based on the descriptions in the books.
Katniss Everdeen was described as short and gaunt
Katniss Everdeen is the heroine of the “Hunger Games” series. She volunteers as the female tribute from her district to save her younger sister, then goes on to win the event and eventually take down the corrupt system of power. She was played by Jennifer Lawrence in the movies, and, for the most part, she looked pretty similar to the descriptions in the books.
According to the novels, Katniss had black hair, gray eyes, and olive skin — a coloring she described as the “Seam look.” In the film, Lawrence had dark brown hair, but the eyes and skin were pretty spot-on. One obvious difference was that the book version of Katniss was described as being notably gaunt — after all, she grew up in District 12, where food and money were scarce. It turns out, Laurence was asked to lose weight for the film, but she refused. As she told SciFiNow, “I was like, ‘We have control over this image, we have control over this role model. Why would we make her something unobtainable and thin?'”
Despite these little differences, it’s safe to say that fans of the series could not have asked for a better actress to take on the role.
Gale Hawthorne was written to have darker skin
Gale Hawthorne is Katniss Everdeen’s first love and long-time friend in “The Hunger Games.” In the movies, he was played by Liam Hemsworth — and you couldn’t really ask for a more handsome actor! However, the books described Gale as being even more dreamy than Hemsworth — if that were possible. “He was too handsome, too male, and not the least bit willing to smile and play nice for the cameras,” according to the book.
Gale is also described as having the “Seam look” like Katniss — in other words, he has dark hair and gray eyes. In fact, the pair are said to “resemble each other.” Additionally, he’s described in the books as being a staggering 6’3″ tall, as well as significantly younger than Hemsworth. And we think he may have been a little pale in the movies based on the book’s description and his hair may have been a shade too light, but other than that, Hemsworth pretty much fulfills the hunk-like description of the books. We have to say that this was some excellent casting.
One thing that Hemsworth nailed was the District 12 look — he was pretty thin. As he told Games Radar, “The physicality for me was losing weight … I wanted to look hungry.”
Peeta Mellark should have had longer hair and a missing limb
Peeta Mellark was the male tribute from District 12 in “The Hunger Games.” He and Katniss Everdeen pretended to have a love affair to gain sympathy from the crowd, and eventually fell in love in real life, too. In Collins’ books, Peeta is described as having blue eyes and being of “medium height with a stocky build” and “ashy blond hair that falls in waves over his forehead.”
Looking at Josh Hutcherson, who played Peeta in the films, he looks pretty close to the original descriptions of the character; he has the right build and the right hair color. However, in the films Peeta had brown eyes and a much shorter, swept back hair style. As it turns out, Hutcherson would have changed even more about his look if he’d had the chance. As he told Cinema Blend, the blonde hair ended up being pretty annoying. “Having to do touch ups all the time and get my hair redyed and bleached, was not my thing at all,” he complained.
Another difference? The missing limb. In the books, Peeta loses his leg during the Hunger Games — in the movies, the writers decided to let him keep all of his limbs!
Effie Trinket was meant to be even more colorful
“The Hunger Games” would not have been complete without the amazing Effie Trinket. This absurd character embraces the opulent, bizarre style trends of the Capital — she wears ridiculous wigs, paints her face, and dresses up in some truly avant garde outfits. In the books, Effie is described as having a “scary white grin, pinkish hair, and [a] spring green suit.” At one point, Katniss notes, “Her pink hair must be a wig because her curls have shifted slightly off-center.”
In the movies, the makeup and costume department took this description as inspiration and ran with it. While some of the details may have been a little off — actress Elizabeth Banks had a blonde wig and a gray suit in the scene in question — they definitely captured the spirit of the character. As makeup artist Ve Neill told Academy Art News, “We wanted [her looks] to be out of the norm, avant-garde, high fashion makeup. Some were very deconstructed, some were just bizarre looking. I just wanted them to be creative and fun and really think out of the box.” Well, they definitely succeeded!
Haymitch Abernathy should have had dark curly hair
Haymitch Abernathy is an old winner of The Hunger Games from District 12 who is assigned as Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark’s mentor. In the book, he is “a paunchy, middle-aged man” who is often drunk. The books also hinted that Haymitch had been quite good-looking in his youth and that he had dark, curly hair and the same gray eyes as Katniss and Gale.
In the “The Hunger Games” movies, Haymitch was portrayed by Woody Harrelson. It’s clear that with this character, the makeup designers took some liberties. In the movies, Haymitch had light blonde straight hair and blue eyes, looking a little more like Peeta than Katniss or Gale. However, the team certainly captured the drunken, disheveled look that was conveyed in the books — though he could have been even more paunchy!
Even though Harrelson looks pretty different from the Haymitch from the books, it’s clear that the director thought he’d capture the character’s spirit. As Harrelson told the Independent, “I turned it down and they re-offered it and I turned it down again,” he revealed. “Then [the first film’s writer and director] Gary Ross called me and convinced me to do it on the phone.”
Cinna was written as having green eyes
Cinna is Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark’s stylist. His defining feature in the books is his “normal” appearance compared to the others in the Capitol. Katniss describes him as having “close-cropped hair [that] appears to be its natural shade of brown.” The only artificial part of his appearance is “metallic gold eyeliner that has been applied with a light hand.” Katniss notes, “It brings out the flecks of gold in his green eyes.”
In “The Hunger Games” films, Cinna is played by Lenny Kravitz. Cinna looked pretty much perfect, thanks to the shimmering gold dash of eyeliner. Apparently, Kravitz loved the look. Makeup artist Ve Neill told The Fandom, “He was so handsome and he put that gold eyeliner on and looked so amazing.” Kravitz even took some home with him! However, unlike the book description, the film version of Cinna had dark brown eyes rather than green eyes. Additionally, he’s younger in the books than Kravitz.
In terms of costume, Kravitz told People, the designers admittedly added their own spin. “We discussed it and thought that it would be really interesting to pull him back and make him more like a Tom Ford or an Yves Saint Laurent,” he explained.
Primrose Everdeen was meant to be incredibly thin
Primrose Everdeen is Katniss Everdeen’s younger sister in “The Hunger Games.” She is initially selected as the tribute for District 12, but Katniss offers to go in her place. In the book, Primrose doesn’t have the “Seam” look that Katniss and Gale share. As Katniss says in her narration, “My mother and Prim, with their light hair and blue eyes, always look out of place.” She also shares, “Prim’s face is as fresh as a raindrop, as lovely as the primrose for which she was named.” At another point in the book, Katniss notes that she “could [not] tip the scale at seventy pounds wet.” In other words, Primrose is incredibly tiny, much like her sister.
Overall, the movies captured Primrose pretty well. Played by Willow Shields, Primrose was truly “fresh” and “lovely” like the Primrose in the books. However, unlike the book version, the movie version of Primrose had brown eyes and sandy blonde hair. If the makeup and hair team had wanted to really capture Collins’ description, she should have had lighter hair, blue eyes, and a slightly slimmer build. Still, Shields is totally gorgeous and brought Primrose to life.
Johanna Mason has spiky hair in the books
Johanna Mason is the District 7 tribute who returns for the second book in “The Hunger Games” series. In the book, Johanna is depicted as being deceptively strong, but able to pretend to be meek. She has “spiky hair” and “wide-set brown eyes.” In the movie, Johanna Mason is played by Jena Malone. While the actress certainly captures the character’s personality, the production team went in a different direction for her hair. In the movie it was straight and long rather than spiky. Plus, Malone’s eyes weren’t particularly wide-set, but we hardly blame her for that!
Malone’s natural personality more than made up for these physical differences. As she told Marie Claire, “I think I have the same kind of fierceness and my character Johanna when it comes to protecting my family. She’s got some deep-rooted issues, but I love her strength and humor.” Apparently, playing the role even brought out more of Malone’s sassiness. We have to say — she was perfect for the part.
Finnick Odair was meant to be sandy blonde
Finnick Odair is another winner of The Hunger Games who returns to compete again in the second novel. In his first appearance, he is described as being “the handsome bronze-haired guy from District 4.” He is also said to have “famous sea green eyes.” Katniss even notes at one point, “I can’t argue that Finnick isn’t one of the most stunning, sensuous people on the planet.”
In the movies, the handsome Finnick was played by Sam Claflin. We have to admit, it’s pretty good casting — Claflin, like Finnick, is certainly “stunning,” with his sculpted, well-proportioned features. Unlike Finnick, Claflin has blonde rather than bronze hair. He also had deep blue eyes in the movie, rather than “sea green.”
Aside from these small details, Claflin definitely looked like a real heartthrob in “The Hunger Games,” just like Finnick. However, Claflin wouldn’t agree. As he told The Guardian, “You read the books and my character’s meant to look like a kind of Greek god. I wouldn’t have cast me: a pale, English, overweight, stubbled kid.” For the film, Claflin said, he “had to be in such good shape” that his routine was “gym-chicken-bed-gym-chicken-bed-work, repeat.” Wow, looking like Finnick certainly isn’t easy!
President Coriolanus Snow was meant to have snake-like eyes
President Coriolanus Snow was the main villain in “The Hunger Games” films. He ruled over all of the districts and orchestrated The Hunger Games. In the books, he is described as being a “small, white-haired man” with “snakelike eyes” and “puffy lips.” He also has a mouth that’s riddled with sores.
In the movies, the character was played by Donald Sutherland. For the most part, Sutherland looked pretty similar to the book’s description; he had the white hair and he was fairly small. However, we think the team could have done a better job of creating the ominous “snakelike eyes” and “puffy lips.”
As it turns out, the makeup team tried other looks but decided on this look in the end. As makeup artist Ve Neill explained in an interview, “I sat and worked with him an entire day, and after we tried all of these things on him, I said, ‘You know what Donald? … What if we just make your eyebrows white, all white to match your hair?’ And I said, ‘And make you really kind of you know really jolly looking almost like Santa Claus?'” While the kindly old man isn’t really how he was described, it definitely worked to shock the audience.
President Alma Coin was pretty much spot on apart from the eyes
President Alma Coin is a character from District 13 who ultimately takes over from President Snow and becomes another autocratic villain. In “The Hunger Games” books, she’s described as being around 50 years old, “with gray hair that falls in an unbroken sheet to her shoulders.” Katniss Everdeen notes, “I am somewhat fascinated by her hair since it’s so uniform, so without a flaw, a wisp, even a split end.” Additionally, Coin’s eyes are gray. As Katniss says, “They’re very pale as if almost all of the color has been sucked away. The color of slush that you wish would melt away.”
Actress Julianne Moore looked pretty close to this description — especially when it came to her hair. However, we think they could have highlighted the grey in her eyes just a little more.
By the sound of things, the team tried hard to copy the book’s description. “She’s oddly colorless,” Moore told Rotten Tomatoes. “You almost feel that she’s kind of lost dimension from being underground … We wanted to be as accurate as possible to the book’s description of the character because it’s really, really important to the fans.”
Foxface was written as having more distinctive animalistic features
Foxface was one of the original tributes in the first book in “The Hunger Games” trilogy. She is described as being “sly,” “sneaky,” “elusive” and quite small at around 115 pounds. She is also meant to have “amber eyes” and red hair. Katniss Everdeen describes her as “the fox-faced girl from District 5.”
In the movie, she is played by Jacqueline Emerson, who did an amazing job of capturing her sly, elusive characteristics. She also had the right hair and build. However, we wish the team had exaggerated her animalistic, fox-like features as described in the book.
Aside from the lack of any fox-like features, we loved the way Emerson played this character. By the looks of it, she really understood her sneaky qualities. As she told Seventeen, “I love that she is so smart and is able to make her way through the games without killing anybody. I think that’s really cool, especially when she’s thrown into this society where that’s what you’re brought up to do.”
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