The most exciting moment of “The Hunger Games” came toward the end, in my opinion, when the “game masters” were concocting ways to put the young contenders in even more danger.
A game master named Lucia creates a monstrous virtual hound with an appetite for Tributes, and it’s shipped into the Hunger Games forest.
“Wait! I know her!” I thought.
I was right. Lucia is played by Atlanta’s Sharon Morris, who also has appeared in “The Blind Side,” “Due Date” and “The Green Lantern.”
She will be seen in upcoming films including “What to Expect When You’re Expecting,” in which she played the obstetrician who treats Cameron Diaz’ character, and “The Odd Life of Timothy Green,” the Jennifer Garner film in which Morris will play a principal.
She also will be seen in an upcoming television movie starring Cuba Gooding Jr. The project was alternately known as Crew 9 and Crew 7 when it was filming in Atlanta last year. It’s being released as “Firelight.”
Anyway, back to “The Hunger Games.”
“I almost didn’t even go to the audition,” Morris said. “It was during my kid’s spring break and they were being real hush-hush with the script. My daughter was reading the book and she was like, ‘You’re going to be in ‘The Hunger Games!””
Her daughter Taylor is 13.
“The Hunger Games” was filmed in North Carolina. The forest scenes took place near Asheville while interior scenes were filmed near Charlotte. The game masters scenes were filmed in a former Philip Morris cigarette facility in Concord, which is just north of Charlotte.
“That place was really weird,” Morris said. “It was in the old tobacco plant and it was ‘no smoking.’ We just laughed.”
Morris’ character is officially unnamed in the credits. Director Gary Ross came up with the name “Lucia” on the fly, because it sounded like a name from Roman gladiator times, Morris said. Lucia takes a devilish glee in creating the snarling creatures set loose in the forest.
“I just thought it would make it more interesting if I was happy about being bad, Morris said. “It’s always more interesting if you put a little texture into the role.”
With sequels to come, Morris is hoping Lucia will have more dastardly deeds to come.
“I’m hoping I’ll get to carry Lucia through the next one,” she said.
Coincidentally, fellow Atlanta actor Steve Coulter has a role in the game masters scenes, too.
“I wasn’t familiar with ‘The Hunger Games,’” he said. A casting director who knew Coulter invited him up to audition.
“After I finished the director opened his arms and said, You want to be in my movie?”
Both Coulter and Morris filmed for several days in a green room. The game masters sets are largely computer generated.
“We were like kids in a candy store. We were like, can you believe this?” he said. “It’s a really good movie. I have a teenage daughter so it’s nice to see a young woman (in the lead role) who’s really tough.”
These days Coulter is working close to home. He has a role in A.C.O.D., which is filming in Decatur this week. He plays the former flame of Jessica Alba’s character.
“She dumps me for Adam Scott,” Coulter said.
Nikole Morrow-Pettus didn’t have a role in “The Hunger Games” but she had a role to play when members of the cast paid a recent visit to Atlanta.
As cosmetics director for the five metro Atlanta Van Michael salons, she was tasked with gussying up actors including heartthrob Liam Hemsworth, who played Gale, before an appearance in front of thousands of screaming fans at Lenox Square.
“It wasn’t very hard,” Morrow-Pettus said. “I have an easy job when it comes to handsome people!”
Morrow-Pettus also worked on the flawless face of actress Viola Davis when she was here last year for the Atlanta premiere of “The Help,” and Tom Hanks when he visited on a promotional tour supporting “Larry Crowne.”
She said Hemsworth was very quiet and reserved while Jack Quaid, who played Marvel, was hilarious.
“He had me laughing,” she said. Dayo Okeniyi, who played Thresh, kidded around with Quaid.
“Dayo has the most velvet skin. I felt ridiculous. I was like, you’re too perfect!” she said. “They were fun to banter with. They were so kind to each other and so happy to be on this project.”
- Jennifer Brett/The Buzzemail@example.com