Jena Malone may consider herself to be a “happy-go-lucky” gal, but that certainly wasn’t the case the day she auditioned for her role as Johanna in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. While many actresses came into the audition room interpreting her as bitchy, Malone played the character as downright angry.
She revealed to Vulture why she nailed the role on a day when everything went wrong.
Malone said, “Before the audition, I was like, F—, I’m so not an angry person. I mean, I can do intimidating or whatever, a little bit. But I’m much more of a happy-go-lucky, make everyone feel comfortable [person]. Anger’s not something you can fake. It’s something that channels through you, out of nowhere. It’s a hard thing to control. So I was like, F—, this is going to be a little complicated, and I don’t wanna go in there and give him something fake and ridiculous. And so, I don’t know what happened, but the morning I woke up, everything started pissing me off. My alarm didn’t go off right; someone called me at five in the morning. I got out of bed on the wrong side of the bed. And I was like, Whoa, whoa, whoa, what’s happening?”
Whatever was happening, it was magical. Director Francis Lawrence even said he was intimidated by the 29-year-old actress while she was immersed in the role.
She continued, “I was like, Oh, wait. She’s totally taking over. And so by the time I got to the audition, I was so pissed off. And they were like 30 minutes late, some actor was in there before me, he kept coming out and putting his headphones on and then going back in. And I was like, Jesus, this guy. They’re, like, coddling everybody. He’s trying to cry, he can’t cry. I was so pissed off. They’re wasting my time. By the time I was in there, I was seething; I was frothing at the mouth. I don’t even think I said hello to Francis. I just walked in and said, ‘Tell me when you want me to start.'”
Even with such a sunny personality in real life, the Sucker Punch star is well-known in the industry for playing tormented characters. Malone understands why she gets casts in these types of roles.
“It’s more challenging playing things that are foreign to you, and I guess these are things I’ve wanted to explore as a woman, as a storyteller. It’s not as interesting always playing the happy-go-lucky girlfriends. So I guess I just tend to search out women that are a little bit more complicated or complex, and they tend to find me, too. That’s just how it happens,” said Malone.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire opened on Nov. 22. It was the biggest opening ever for the month of November earning over $158 million at the box office in its first weekend.