‘It’s a war of communication’

Natalie dormer plays Cressida, the hot young media-savvy rebel who makes ‘propos’, a mix of viral advertising, on-the-fly news clips and inspirational messages that are the only way for the rebels to communicate to the outside world.

Tell us about your character and how she fits in the world of the Hunger Games?

ND: Cressida is a documentary film maker who’s been given the job of creating the ‘propos’, the package Katniss Everdeen as the Mockingjay, as the symbol that will galvanise the revolution. So it’s a very specific task.

And when it came to directing, did you get any tips from Francis Lawrence or any other directors that you’ve worked with, had you observed that you could bring to the character?

ND: Well, I’ve had the pleasure of watching them as creatures for the last, 10-9 years, but uum… it’s… I’m with a director and he helped me shoot my audition tape. So I was just kind of like pulling like little bits of information that I’ve observed over the years, and sent off the tape to Francis and he loved it.

I think looks are very important in the world of the Hunger Games aren’t they? Like the emphasis that’s placed on Katniss’ outfit as the Mockingjay for instance. I just wonder what Cressida’s appearance might tell us about her, and what was that you thought of Kurt and Bart’s creations?

ND: Well you can see that Cressida comes from the Capitol. I think the whole hairstyle and tattoo informs you, it’s a different kind of capitol resident, or maybe it’s a hangover from a previous existence that she had. So that’s one of the reasons that Francis Lawrence and I chose to shave half my hair as opposed to all of it, because we thought it may be a more stylistic choice that maybe a capital resident would have made. Kurt and Bart are just incredible. I can’t say enough positive things about them. They’re extraordinary.

What was like? To live with that shaved head whilst you, you know, went on set?

ND: Yeah ah… lighter, spending less time in the shower. No, it was very liberating. As a woman, you know so much of aesthetic, cosmetic you know, identity is bound up in our hair as a woman, our sense of attractiveness. So it’s kind of liberating, to just kind of get rid of half of that. And as you said it changed my look dramatically, and there was Cressida!

And what did you particularly enjoy about the district 8 and different district 12 scenes. I mean myself I found like I forgot the science fiction element and just thought I was watching these young people in a warzone, kind of fighting for their lives really.

ND: Yeah I mean the images that you see in those two districts sort of resonate all too readily with a lot of images we see on the news at the moment. And that’s the important thing about these movies, it’s at the safe distance of fantasy, so you don’t carry political baggage. You can analyze what societies can do to each other and you know and how terrible that is.

What do you think that the film has to say about the role of media in war?
ND: Well how important it is. I mean how important spin is. And there are civilians, innocent civilians on both sides that get caught up in conflict. And the both sides, whether you think you’re the good side or the bad side, both sides manipulate, because they have to, it’s a war of communication, as well as a war of artillery. So these are all very relevant themes for our modern world. And that’s why it’s great that the Hunger Games makes these accessible to young people.

Tell us a bit about the dynamics between Katniss and Cressida, and what you enjoyed about creating that on screen relationship with Jennifer?

ND: Francis Lawrence, who’s our director, was fantastic, because he gave me free range, to sort of, ad-lib a bit. You know I didn’t stick specifically to what was scripted to Cressida. I felt like I had control to order my camera crew about, ask Jen to start a line, stop a line without her knowing I was going to do that. And that was very useful I think for the both of us. For Jen, with the situation she was in, and also for me. And I literally was standing next to her for nearly nine months you know, as a documentary film maker would. Like just don’t mind me, just you know, just carry on. So, I mean it was very interesting.

It’s obviously quite dark and intense material, a lot of it as we said. But what was Lawrence like, to be around between takes, and you know after a day’s filming?
ND: The energy on set is very buoyant and a lot of fun, lot of joking around. Jen has that energy, as does Liam and Josh. You kind of get sucked into that, like that fun in between takes quite easily. And you need it on that kind of long intensive shoot with that kind of subject matter, to lighten the load a bit. It was really good.
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