This past weekend, April 12 and 13, I attended Supanova’s Melbourne event and boy was it a tonne of fun! My primary mission was to meet Alexander Ludwig and attend his panel, but I had a blast just walking around the floor in general and geeking out at the merchandise, artists alley, cosplayers and more. I had been once previously but the 2014 event has experienced a growth in numbers, reminding me at times of the great crush I experienced at San Diego Comic Con.
If you’ve never been (and you should!) Supanova is an expo of pop culture and more held in several cities across the country, covering fandoms far and wide and all sorts of geekery goodness. Stars at Melbourne (and the Gold Coast) this year included guests from Dr Who, Game of Thrones, Adventure Time, Star Wars, The Hunger Games, Teen Wolf, Xena, The Walking Dead and more. Another major attraction of the expo is the cosplay, with prizes on offer for the best costumes as well as a parade on the Saturday night. I caught a few brief glimpses of some Katniss’ in various guises (including one all bloodied and bandaged!) but sadly they moved through the crowd too quickly for me to take photos.
After hunting around on the expo floor searching for various merchandise I managed to pick up the 3 latest NECA Catching Fire figures (Katniss, Peeta and Finnick) as well as a flaming Mockingjay poster (the bird revealed at the end of CF) and spied a few Mockingjay pins, a Catching Fire blanket and a replica of Peeta’s locket. I was happy to see they had all sold out after my second pass of the floor on Saturday. Finally the stars were back at the tables for autograph signings (you must line up to purchase tokens for photos and autographs) and it was time to meet Alexander Ludwig! I am pleased to report he is every bit as lovely, charming and handsome in real life and was very chatty with fans as he signed pictures, books, posters and DVDs. I thanked him for bringing some of the Gold Coast’s weather down (it had been raining here all week!) and then we chatted about what he had been up to, including some time surfing at Byron Bay which he loved. Here is the picture he signed for me:
Later that afternoon I had my photo session and although this was a blink-and-you-miss-it moment, I thanked him again for coming and taking photos to which he grinned and said “you’re welcome”. I’m fairly certain his smile was a bit brighter in my picture than some of the others I saw on the table, but I’ll let you be the judge:
After an amazing Saturday it was time to go home and gear up for Sunday and Alexander’s panel session. Thankfully Alexander’s panel was the first of the day so there wasn’t too long to wait, then my excitement levels went through the roof when he retweeted me just before the start! His panel was fantastic with loads of great questions and terrific answers. He was also full of laughs and jokes and happily shared many stories of pranks and jokes on set.
And although video and audio recording was prohibited, the good old notebook and pen was not! Read on for a few of his answers.
On ‘The Hunger Games’:
- Alexander had read all the books before filming began, including reading The Hunger Games before he heard a movie was going to be made. Upon hearing about the film he was determined to do whatever it took to get a part.
- Whilst we already knew he had auditioned for Peeta, Alexander said that the choice toward the end was between himself and Josh, before Gary Ross offered him the part of Cato instead, so he jumped at the challenge of playing something different. He cracked a joke that he thought he’d be good at it because “I’m just a huge arsehole in real life”
- Whilst he loves Josh’s take on Peeta, Alexander had a different approach and would have made Peeta more masculine, but Alexander thought the choice may have been made to have Gale fill more of that role.
- He spent several days with Suzanne Collins on set discussing the books and the story, as well as Cato’s back story. Suzanne was “so incredibly open” about the material and having his own interpretation.
- Alexander thought that Cato was “an ordinary guy, in extraordinary circumstances doing what he’s good at” and not a black and white ‘villain’.
- He also confirmed that during these discussions he discovered that Cato did kill Thresh.
- He was worried about how fans would react to his portrayal of Cato and that they would “hate” him, but he was thrilled at how positive the reaction it was.
- Cato’s ending scene was written the morning they filmed it.
- The cornucopia scene was filmed over the course of a week and only a few minutes ended up in the film. Alexander also revealed it was originally more graphic.
- His favourite character is Rue.
- He has only seen ‘Catching Fire’ very recently whilst on a plane and thought it was “exceptional…better than the first”. Alexander also mentioned that they are all still like a big family and that he’s very happy for the franchise’s continued success.
- He didn’t think Cato would have survived the Quarter Quell. After asking the question he smiled at me, chuckled and shook his head, before adding “Cato.. uh yeah Cato would die”.
- Alexander is known as a prankster and he shared an amazing prank he performed whilst on the set of THG. He put some fake blood in his mouth as well as some gum shaped like a tooth, then deliberately tripped over a chair in front of the director and producers etc, before spitting out the ‘blood’ and ‘tooth’! He re-enacted the crew screaming “NOOOOOOOOOO!!” which was hysterical 😀
On ‘Lone Survivor’:
- Alexander is drawn to roles that tell a great story and he was really interested in portraying a Navy SEAL and doing justice to the soldiers stories as well as their families.
- One of the most challenging but rewarding roles he has had.
- His little sister taught him the napoleon dynamite dance and he said it is the most embarrassing thing he’s ever had to film.
- He was in awe of the cast and Eric Bana is one “of the coolest people” he’s met.
- During filming the cast played a prank on him where they locked him in a locker and left! He can laugh about it now and said the only problem with being a prankster is that eventually “it comes back to bit you in the arse”.
- He passed on ‘Vikings’ 3 times but they kept chasing him until he said yes. Alexander said it was “the best decision I’ve made”.
- Training and choreography for one of his major fight scenes took 2 weeks, but he said it’s all thrown out the window when you actually go to film so you’re just busy trying not to get too hurt! He doesn’t mind the fight scenes as long as they help tell the story.
- He enjoys ‘Vikings’ as it is so character driven, and whilst he never thought he would work on television, he has enjoyed having extended time to spend on his character and the story.
- Some of the backdrops are footage of New Zealand.
- Around 80% of ‘Vikings’ is historical. Bjorn is a real character who went on to do legendary things and he hopes to play more of him in Season 3.
- He played a prank on ‘Vikings’ co-star Travis Fimmel, a renowned prankster himself, where a few of them got together to create a fake script that had his character Ragner taking off his clothes before dancing and singing in the rain. Travis actually did it, until the others laughed so hard and he realised it was a joke!
Other bits and pieces:
- His next project is a film called ‘The Final Girls’ with Nina Dobrev and Malin Akerman, before returning to Ireland to work on ‘Vikings’ Season 3.
- When I said “G’day” to him he tried one back, and wasn’t actually too bad at it!
- Matt Damon is his idol.
- He is writing at the moment as there are no movie projects that currently interest him. His current project is a heist set in Belfast.
- His best piece of advice is to “stay true to who you are”.
- Alexander loves Twitter because he can talk directly with fans and share some of his personality. He said he also enjoys it because his publicist freaks at some of his tweets!
- He always likes to do his own stunts whenever he can and enjoys the various weapons and stunt training he has had the opportunity to do.
- He was also geeking out at Comic Con, particularly when he saw Lucy Lawless.
- He loves country music and classic rock ‘n roll.
- On Jennifer Lawrence: “She is awkward, hilarious and comfortable in her own skin” and “a great role model”.
- The kid in him “loves doing action films” but he would also love to do a drama.
- He always looks for great stories when choosing projects.
- He thinks that ‘Divergent’ may be out a bit soon, but he knows Shailene who is “terrific” and is happy to see strong heroines on screen and to be a part of changing times.
- When the microphone was handed over for the last question of the day, he started with “It’s the last question ever in Australia, don’t mess it up!”
I hope you may have learnt something new in the above as I did, and got a bit of a sense of what it was like to sit with Alexander for just a little while. I was at the very front of the room, and he was great at not only answering the person directly but looking around the room to share his answer. It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience and I can’t thank him enough for coming. Thanks also to Supanova for providing me with a media pass for the weekend and also a big thank you to each and every volunteer.
Were you also at Supanova Melbourne? Have any other questions? Sound off in the comments below!