Casting booze-addled reprobate Haymitch Abernathy was a chance to balance all that young Hollywood glamour with a good old-fashioned character actor. John C. Reilly was initially thought to be attached to the role, before Woody Harrelson was unveiled as the man to bring Haymitch to life.
And whilst the character is a somewhat tragic figure in the books, Harrelson was determined to seek out the humour of the part and bring it to the forefront of proceedings.
“"It was my objective to give the character as much comedy as I could without it seeming not to fit," Harrelson told 24 Frames. "I tried to take a certain comedic aspect and give a sense, through that, that he's been through a lot and is anesthetizing himself as a result of that."
And according to Harrelson, he’s put his own stamp on how the character looks as well. “I didn't want it to feel like just because he's an alcoholic that he would look just like any bum on the street,” he says. “So there are things that go against your expectation of what a washed-up guy would look like.”
Intriguing stuff, although such apparent tinkering might set alarm bells ringing amongst the book’s more devoted fans. Harrelson however, is confident that they have nothing to worry about.
“The essence of the book is going to be in the film," he says. "It's something we've never seen before. We have the best wardrobe, the best costume people, the best makeup people. There's a level of commitment to innovation that [audiences] have never seen. I think they're going to be very pleasantly surprised by it.”