30+ Hunger Games Facts All Fans Should Know

hunger games facts

Think you know all there is to know about The Hunger Games? Call yourself a true ‘Panemaniac’? Knowing how to survive in the Games and rebel against the Capitol aren’t the only things fans of the franchise should know.

You may have re-read the entire Suzanne Collins book series and watched all movies time and time again, but there are a few facts and trivia surrounding The Hunger Games you may not be acquainted with.

Whether you’re binging the movie series a decade later or re-watching them thanks to the release of the prequel (The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes), here are 33 Hunger Games facts that all fans should know…

1. Reality TV and the Iraq War Inspired It

What was the inspiration for Katniss Everdeen’s story? Book author Suzanne Collins revealed that the whole idea for The Hunger Games began when she was watching television, seeing reality TV shows on certain channels, juxtaposed with footage from the Iraq War on others. She said that “these two things began to sort of fuse together in a very unsettling way.”

2. ‘The Hunger Games’ Was Banned in Vietnam

The idea of kids battling for survival in a death-match is pretty daunting, isn’t it? I mean, we had to watch Rue, a 12-year-old child die in front of our very own eyes. Fake, yes, but for Vietnam, The Hunger Games movies was “too much”. Its sensitive subject led the movie to be banned in Vietnam.

3. There Were Hundreds of Wigs on Set

A lot of work goes on behind the scenes of The Hunger Games! There’s a reason why citizens of The Capitol look so darn extravagant all the time. There were allegedly 35 full-time makeup artists and 450 wigs on set for the first film, while Linda Flowers hired 40 hairstylists and hired 20 cosmetology students for the filming of Catching Fire.

4. Jennifer Lawrence Ate Smelly Foods Before Kissing Liam Hemsworth

If there’s anything that proves Jennifer Lawrence is the ultimate joker, it’s this. Apparently, before filming the kissing scenes with her co-star Liam Hemsworth, she would purposely eat smelly foods to make her breath smell bad.

“Anytime I had to kiss Jennifer was pretty uncomfortable,” Liam said on The Tonight Show. “…If we had a kissing scene, she would make a point of eating garlic or tuna fish or something that was disgusting, and right before the scene, she’d be like, ‘I didn’t brush my teeth.’ I’d be like, ‘Great, I can’t wait to get in there and taste it.’”

5. J-Law’s Nickname Was “Plays With Fire”

Here’s a super fun fact about Jennifer Lawrence! The Oscar-winning actress’ nickname as a child was “Plays With Fire”. This is apparently because her parents “played with fire” when she was born and so, “they got burned”. LOL! Little did her parents know that she would eventually be known as the Girl on Fire!

6. Jennifer and Liam Kissed Offscreen, Too

Any Gale and Katniss shippers out there? This fun fact will get your heart pumping! J-Law has admitted to kissing Liam Hemsworth offscreen, too. While rumors have swirled about Jennifer Lawrence dating Liam (and even breaking up his relationship with Miley Cyrus), we can safely say that this relationship was simply platonic.

“Liam and I grew up together,” Jennifer told Andy Cohen. “Liam’s real hot. What would you have done? Yeah, I have [kissed him when the cameras weren’t rolling].”

jennifer lawrence liam hemsworth
Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America via Wikimedia Commons

7. Suzanne Collins’ Father Inspired ‘The Hunger Games’

Suzanne Collins’ idea for a war-appropriate story was inspired by her father who fought in the Vietnam War. She said that her father felt “it was his responsibility to make sure that all his children had an understanding about war, about its cost, its consequences”. The best-selling author added, “that’s very much at the heart of it”.

8. She Also Learned About Hunting From Her Father

Where did Suzanne Collins get all her knowledge about hunting and survival from? Although a lot of research went into writing the Hunger Games novels, her familiarity with poverty came from her father’s stories. Suzanne’s father grew up during the Great Depression, and his family depended on hunting and foraging to survive.

9. Archery Became Popular Thanks to ‘The Hunger Games’

Here’s an interesting fact for you – Katniss made archery cool! An interest in the hobby reportedly got a lot more popular thanks to the movie series. More girls played the sport, and USA Archery even wrote Suzanne Collins a letter saying, “You’ve made archery hot. For pretty much the first time ever, in modern-day America.” 

10. There Wasn’t Going to be a Second or Third Book

That’s right! If Katniss hadn’t almost eaten those nightlock berries, there may not have been two more novels. Suzanne Collins didn’t originally plan to make a trilogy out of The Hunger Games. After reaching the end of the first book, she realized there had to be a sequel, because she knew Katniss would be punished for almost eating the berries. Thank goodness, because Catching Fire and Mockingjay (Pt.1 & 2) are some of the best movie sequels out there!

11. The Peeta Mellark Role Almost Went to Someone Else

Imagine a world where Josh Hutcherson wasn’t Peeta Mellark. No, we can’t. The heartthrob competed against actors including Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Alex Pettyfer, Evan Peters, and Alexander Ludwig for the iconic role. Thank goodness the odds were in Josh’s favor…

12. Elizabeth Banks Had Help Going Toilet Due to Effie’s Nails

Transforming into Effie Trinket’s character wasn’t enjoyable for actress, Elizabeth Banks. Apparently, the hardest part about wearing Effie’s extravagant costumes was the nails – “The biggest problem was I couldn’t go to the bathroom. I had like ladies in waiting…they would hand me the toilet paper…they would have to unzip.” #Awkward – but totally necessary!

13. Jena Malone Was *Really* Naked in That Scene…and Got Caught

Want more funny behind-the-scenes facts about The Hunger Games? Here’s one – Jena Malone was allegedly fully naked while filming the hotel strip scene in Catching Fire. But that’s not all – she was caught by onlookers at the hotel, by accident!

Jena told USA Today. “And as I turned to go, the elevator doors opened. And there was a guy holding two cups of coffee from Starbucks trying to get onto the elevator. I just walked out. I was like, ‘OK, keep going!’ And he was totally unfazed. It’s like me, naked in all of Johanna’s glory, and then Woody Harrelson, Jen and Josh, and the camera operator behind me. It was the best moment of my life.”

14. Jennifer Lawrence Had a Favorite Katniss Costume

J-Law has worn plenty of stunning costumes to play the role of Katniss Everdeen. Her most favorite, however, is the dress she wore during the Tribute Parade in Catching Fire.

15. Josh Hutcherson Split His Pants Open While Filming

This super-funny fact about The Hunger Games will make you smile. Now we know what silliness takes place behind-the-scenes! When Josh Hutcherson and J-Law were filming the proposal scene between Peeta and Katniss, the actor got down on one knee, and his pants “ripped right down the crotch.” #Hilarious

16. Jennifer Lawrence’s Salary For All Movies is $26m

Jennifer Lawrence’s combined salary for all four movies is a whooping $26 million. The actress was reportedly paid $1 million for The Hunger Games, $10 million for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and $15 million for Mockingjay – Part One and Two.

17. “Panem” Dervies From a Roman Expression

Suzanne Collins has said that the historical Roman gladiator games partly inspired the creation of The Hunger Games. Even certain terms that she made up for the novels derive from Roman expressions, such as the word “Panem”, which comes from the expression, “panem et circenses,” which translates to “bread and circuses.”

18. Katniss’ Braid Took 20 Minutes to Style

It took a lot of effort to prepare Effie Trinket’s look – she had a different eye makeup design for each outfit in the first movie, taking around three to four hours per day getting ready. Katniss Everdeen’s appearance on the other hand, didn’t need so much preparation. Her signature braid took just 20 minutes to style.

19. …But J-Law Wore a Wig Later On

While Jennifer wore her natural hair for The Hunger Games and Catching Fire, she had to wear a wig for both Mockingjay installments due to hair damage. The actress wore a total of five wigs, worth a total of $30,000, according to hair designer Linda Flowers.

20. Jennifer Heavily Trained For the Katniss Role

It takes a lot of training to be a tribute in the Hunger Games – and it takes just as much to play the role. Jennifer Lawrence revealed that she took archery, climbing, combat, yoga, and running classes to prepare for her role as Katniss. But she didn’t want to look “unattainable and thin”. In order to be a good role model for young girls, Jennifer wanted to make Katniss Everdeen look “strong”, “beautiful and healthy and fit.”

21. Lenny Kravitz Didn’t Audition for the Role

What a delight it was to have Lenny Kravitz as part of the cast! Believe it or not, the singer didn’t even audition for the role of Cinna. He told Interview magazine, “He [director Gary Ross] said, ‘Hi, I’m making this movie called The Hunger Games. I think you’d be great. If you want it, you’ve got the part.’ No audition.” Lenny even admitted he’d never even heard of The Hunger Games before this role!

22. Philip Seymour Hoffman Never Completed Filming

The actor who played Plutarch Heavensbee, Philip Seymour Hoffman, had only eight to ten days left of filming for Mockingjay: Part 2 before he passed away. His remaining lines were reworked and read by other characters, instead. The actor sadly died of a drug overdose at age 46 in 2014.

23. Jennifer Went Deaf During Filming

In The Hunger Games novel, blood streams from Katniss’ ear, leaving her permanently deaf on her left side. Ironically, something similar happened to Jennifer Lawrence whilst filming Catching Fire – “I went deaf in one ear for months. . . . But that wasn’t actually physically challenging. It was just ear challenging because I got all of these ear infections from the diving and the water and all of that stuff. And then a jet from one of the cornucopia scenes punctured my eardrum.”

24. A ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ Actor Worked Behind the Scenes

Any Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans here? Remember Jonathan Levinson? Well, the actor, Danny Strong actually wrote the scripts for both Mockingjay films!

25. J-Law and Sam Caflin Had to Eat Raw Fish

Filming can take a lot out of you – and make you feel sick, too! Jennifer Lawrence and Sam Caflin were forced to eat raw fish while filming Catching Fire. “I had to eat a raw fish,” said Jennifer. “And not like a sushi raw fish. I held a fish and had to eat it. And for the record, it tastes exactly how it smells. [The crew] kept saying it’s sushi and I am like, ‘I am beholding it and I don’t like fish.”

26. Jennifer Needed an Emergency CAT Scan During Filming

The odds weren’t in J-Law’s favor during the last day of training for the first film! The popular star had to get a CAT scan after running full-speed into a wall – “I had to do 10 ‘wall runs,’ where you run at the wall as hard as you can to get traction, I ran at it and my foot didn’t go up, so I caught the wall with my stomach. My trainer thought I had burst my spleen. I had to get a CAT scan and go into a tube where they put this fiery liquid in your body.”

27. Peta’s Leg is Amputated in the Books

If there’s one major difference between The Hunger Games books and movies – it’s this (other than Katniss going deaf). In the novels, Peta actually has his leg amputated after the events of the first games. He then wears a prosthetic leg for the rest of the story. 

28. J-Law’s Nephews Played her Children

Remember the small glimpse we got of Katniss’ children at the end of Mockingjay Part 2? Well, those kids were none other than Jennifer’s nephews Bear and Theodore! “I had a last scene, about a year later, with my nephews, which was so special. They played my children in the scene that I shot. It was amazing closure to this character who I’ve loved for so many years, and I had my blood family there. I got to say goodbye to both, at different times,” she told Collider.

29. Jennifer Lawrence Gave Josh Hutcherson Concussion

From falling over at the 2013 Oscars to tripping up at the 2014 Oscars, as well, we all know just how clumsy J-Law can be. Apparently, while on set for the first Hunger Games movie, Jennifer told Josh Hutcherson that she could kick way over his head. When she tried, she accidently kicked Josh in the head, which ended up giving him concussion. Way to go, Jen!

30. Chris Hemsworth Helped His Brother For the Role

In case you weren’t aware (of course you were!) Liam Hemsworth is the younger brother of actor Chris Hemsworth. You know, the super-cool dude who plays Thor. Well, apparently, Chris helped his younger brother become more familiar with the role of Gale. In fact, he “helped him audition”, and ran his lines together. Chris got so into it that he put on his “girly American accent” whilst reading Katniss’ lines.

31. Donald Sutherland Asked For the Role in a 3-Page Letter 

Now, that’s what you call dedication! Donald Sutherland admitted to GQ that he wrote a three-page letter to the director, Gary Ross, requesting to play the role of Coriolanus Snow, because the story “captured his [my] passion” and “thought it was an incredibly important film”. From then on, Donald landed the role and the rest is history!

32. ‘The Hunger Games’ Is Connected to Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, Avril Lavigne

How on earth does The Hunger Games correlate with Lady Gaga, Beyoncé and Avril Lavigne? Pretty random, right? Well, Francis Lawrence, who directed Catching Fire and both Mockingjay films also happened to direct Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance, Beyoncé’s Run the World (Girls), and Avril Lavigne’s Sk8er Boi music videos.

33. There Was a Swear Jar on Set

Yep, you read that right…and you guessed correctly – Jennifer Lawrence filled half of it! Gary Ross had a swear jar on the set of the movies because they were rated PG-13. According to Lionsgate, “half of it was contributed by Jennifer Lawrence”. That’s one way to cut down those F-bombs!

If there’s one thing we’ve learned from our list of Hunger Games fun facts – being in a movie with Jennifer Lawrence would not be boring, to say the least! What’s your favorite piece of trivia? Let us know in the comments!

To wrap up – as a treat to all the Tributes in your life (including you), why not consider buying one of these awesome Hunger Games gifts

This article was originally published in November 2015.

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Tale Teller
Angela Stephanou

Angela Stephanou

Owner and chief editor of Tell Tales. Angela has a BA in Communications and oversees the content and strategy across Tell Tales, building an audience of pop culture junkies like herself. Her social media follows have more celebrities than real-life friends, music runs through her veins and she’d much rather be glued to her TV screen, piled under an array of snacks than go out on a Friday night. Angela’s guilty pleasure is watching cheesy reality shows like Keeping Up with the Kardashians, but she’s also a sucker for all things Marvel and DC - two entirely different worlds, we know.