After debuting in 2012 and becoming a worldwide phenomenon, the film series based on Suzanne Collins’ ‘Hunger Games’ novels is coming to an end this weekend with the release of ‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2’. And though fans will likely be talking about the iconic characters played by Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, and Donald Sutherland in Francis Lawrence’s epic dystopian war movie, there’s one person that proves to be incredibly important to the mission carried out by Katniss Everdeen and Squad 451 that probably won’t get the recognition that he deserves.
As seen in the trailers and clips for the finale of ‘Mockingjay’, Katniss and company must evade the Capitol forces in the utility pipes and underground tunnels of the city. But what isn’t exactly apparent in the promotional material is that the group is being led by Elden Henson’s Pollux, the former Avox and current cameraman for Natalie Dormer’s Cressida. Seeing how integral he is to the success of the resistance, it was pretty fortunate that we were able to speak with the actor while he was coming through Philadelphia to promote the finale of ‘The Hunger Games’.
During our conversation with Henson, we dove right into the exciting scene featuring Pollux’s guidance. After explaining his preparations for the role in these films, the actor continually expressed his excitement for being a part of the franchise and shared some stories about shooting and his costars. And of course, we talked a little about his stint as Foggy Nelson on the acclaimed Marvel and Netflix series ‘Daredevil’, as well as his other memorable parts in such beloved films as ‘The Mighty Ducks’ and ‘Idle Hands’.
ScienceFiction.com: Despite the Capital being such an extravagant place, the sewers are pretty gnarly. Can you talk about your experience filming the sequence where Pollux leads Katniss and the gang through the sewers?
Elden Henson: I remember being wet for a really long time. It seemed like forever. That was a sequence that I was really excited about because I remember one day where we were shooting and we were running through these tunnels and sometimes [director Francis Lawrence] will sometimes listen to music during a scene that doesn’t have dialogue. He called me over and let me listen to his headphones and played playback and that was the first time where I was like, “Oh my god, this is going to be awesome.” To see the final product, it totally surpassed my expectations and I was there. That was pretty exciting. I think that it was probably my favorite sequence in the entire movie.
SF: For sure. There was a lot going on with the Mutts and stuff.
EH: Yeah, but it was hilarious because we’re afraid of the Mutts, but on the day, it was a lot of stunt guys in onesies with little balls on their suits. It was definitely a moment where you had to use your imagination as an actor.
SF: How did you prepare to play a character that doesn’t speak?
EH: To be honest, I didn’t have a lot of time. I found out that I got the job and it was a couple of days later when I was heading to Atlanta, so I was trying to read the books as fast as I could and then I went back to familiarize myself with the rest. Obviously I watched the movies, but I didn’t have a lot of time. I think the thing that solidified the character for me was a conversation with Francis. We had dinner a couple of days before we started shooting and I asked him if there was anything that he thought I should know about this character that maybe I wouldn’t get from the books. He said that everything is there in the books, but the thing I needed to remember was that through all the bad things that Pollux has gone through, he still chooses to see the beauty in the world. That really resonated with me and so that’s really where I started. I tried to make sure that I always kept that in mind while we were shooting.
SF: So you didn’t get to read all of the books prior to shooting?
EH: [Laughs] Well, I lied and said that I had read all of the books prior, but really I was reading them during. It was just such a great experience. Every day I would just be sitting there thinking, “Woody Harrelson is sitting right next to me. How cool is this? I can’t even believe it.” There was a really crazy thing. I have these moments sometimes where I think, “How did I end up with this life?” We were shooting in Germany and I was hanging out with Evan [Ross, who played Messalla] and we walked into the hotel and Steven Tyler was there. Evan knows everybody, so Steven Tyler was like, “Evan! What’s up? You guys gotta come to my concert!” So the next night or the couple nights later, we were sitting there right on the side of the stage. I was with Evan and Wes [Chatham, who played Pollux’s brother Castor]. Woody Harrelson was right there. Then Steven Tyler was singing right there on the stage and I was thinking to myself, “How did I get here?” I must have done something good in a past life because I don’t know how I got so lucky.
EH: No, I wasn’t worried. I was a really big fan of Francis before I got to work with him, so I knew that I was in really good hands. [Pollux] is such a great character already in a book, so I had a lot to go from. I actually found it to be a really great exercise in doing something different. I gotta tell you, every day that I was working on ‘Daredevil’ with all that dialogue that Foggy has, I was like, “Man, I wish I were working on ‘Hunger Games’ still.”
SF: Speaking of ‘Daredevil’, we saw you get more involved in action scenes as Pollux. Could we be seeing the same from Foggy Nelson in the upcoming season of the hit Netflix series?
EH: Man, I wish I could tell you anything about ‘Daredevil’, but the truth is that Jeph Loeb will literally murder me and just hire another actor to play Foggy. No, I’m kidding, but I think fans of the comic book and the show will be pumped about this season. They’ll be really excited to see what Jon [Bernthal] is doing with The Punisher and what [Elodie Yung] is doing with Elektra. Hopefully people will respond the same way that they did in the first season. It’s cool, man. There’s not a day that goes by where I’m in New York and someone doesn’t shout “FOGGY!” as I’m walking by. People will stop me a lot and say, “What’s wrong with you, man? You find out that your friend is a superhero, you should be pumped about that.” I’m really excited that they’re that invested in the show, but at the same time I’m trying to explain that I don’t write the show and I just do what they tell me.
SF: Has that surprised you at all, the fan reaction to your character? At New York Comic Con, you got bigger cheers than Daredevil himself.
EH: Jeph said from the beginning that he felt that Foggy was the heart and soul of the show, so I did try to bring some of that. I can relate to a lot of things that are important to Foggy. He really cares about his friends and the people around him and his neighborhood. I respond to that because I still have the same five friends that I’ve had ever since I can remember. I’m just really grateful for being in ‘The Hunger Games’ because I feel like it put me in a conversation that I wasn’t in before and it probably helped me get the ‘Daredevil’ job to be honest because no one was hiring me before I got the ‘Hunger Games’ job. I just feel lucky to be a part of both of them.
SF: How have you found the fans of ‘The Hunger Games’ as opposed to the fans of your other memorable roles? Marvel fans tend to be very passionate, but I’m sure that there’s a strong fan base for ‘Mighty Ducks and ‘Idle Hands’ out there.
EH: That’s difficult, but I will say that what they have in common is that they all have a passion for movies and television and I really respond to that because I was a movie nerd growing up. I loved going to the movies. That was my thing. So I don’t really see them as being all that different. I think that the comic book fans are maybe a little more detail oriented. They want things to be as they are in the comics whereas ‘Hunger Games’ fans are more open to some interpretation. But honestly, I’m just lucky to be apart of both of those worlds and reach that many people. My favorite stuff is when I get to do signings and interact with the fans and everything. They all have a passion, which I think is pretty cool.
SF: Finally, if you were put into the Hunger Games with your characters, who do you think would have the advantage? Fulton Reed from ‘The Mighty Ducks’ is a Bash Brother, but Knub from ‘Idle Hands’ is already dead, so…
EH: That is a really good point! But if Fulton were in the Hunger Games, would he be able to bring his hockey stick and a puck? Because he would just take snapshots at everybody.
SF: That would be a game changer!
EH: You know, I can’t even remember all the characters I’ve played at this point, but let’s go with Fulton. Why not?
It was most certainly a pleasure to chat with Elden Henson while he was in Philadelphia to promote his latest project. I mean, for someone that stayed silent for two whole movies, it was great to see that he did have a lot to say. To catch him in a theater near you, be sure to see ‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2’ in theaters starting on November 20, 2015. Otherwise, he can be found in Netflix’s corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Foggy Nelson on ‘Daredevil’, which is currently shooting its second season. But for now, check out one of Pollux’s most memorable scenes where he asks Katniss Everdeen to sing: