Bruno Gunn Interview, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
I met Bruno Gunn at Hotel Palomar in Chicago on March 6, 2014. He was quite involved in our very informative conversation. I had the chance to speak with him on the day of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire DVD midnight release.
Sarah’s Backstage Pass: Your role seemed pretty physically demanding. Did you enjoy playing such a strong, violent character?
Bruno Gunn: I did. I loved every second of it. I loved all of the physical preparation that went into it. I mean, I’m a pretty fit guy and I like to stay fit as part of my lifestyle, so when you get something like this, you definitely up the ante and start putting in more hours and discipline. I had a great trainer, Drew Logan in LA. It was important to come in looking physically like I could do some damage.
SBP: Did you have to do anything different to prepare yourself other than your regular routine?
BG: Well, we just put in more time, dialed in our nutrition, lifted more weights, ran a little more. On top of that, there were hours of work every day with the martial arts team, so I was doing my stuff and meeting up with the martial arts guys. I loved it, every second of it.
SBP: Did you read the books to prepare for your role?
BG: I had read the books after I got the role and the most fun for me was building his backstory. You don’t get much information on who the guy is. Suzanne Collins gives you a couple of gold nuggets here, so for me, it was about going away and creating who this guy was and using your imagination fully to develop Brutus. Did he have brothers and sisters? Who was his mother? Father? Why does he align himself with District Two? Why is he so bloodthirsty to get back in?
SPB: Which scene was the most difficult for you?
BG: I would definitely have to say the Cornucopia that was the most physical stuff; fight sequences, running on the planks, spokes were not user friendly. They were these massive rocks.
SPB: Was this a similar role to ones you’ve played in the past or was this pretty different for you?
BG: This was unlike anything I had ever taken on. A, the size of the project; B, the size of the character. So it was different than anything I had ever taken on. I mean, I have played a lot of bad guys, but this was a whole different bad guy to take on.
SPB: What was it like to work with Jennifer Lawrence?
BG: She was fun, she joked around a lot. When it was time to be serious, she was serious and she was open and welcoming; never made you feel isolated. When it’s time to be serious, that girl is dialed in. She never made you feel like you didn’t belong. It’s great because it creates a loose environment where you’re relaxed and do your best.
SPB: What qualities do you think Brutus had that the other tributes did not?
BG: By sheer size, I think strength. I also think Suzanne Collins says he’s bloodthirsty. So I think he had more of a killer instinct than the other ones. We don’t get any other killer instinct from any of the other tributes. District One, they’re good-looking; rebels, but good looking… the pretty group. And the rest of them, they all have their own traits. None of them have the bloodthirsty instinct like District Two.
SPB: Right; you guys seemed more prepared than the rest of the tributes. What would you want the audience to take away from the film?
BG: It was one of the films that, I always say this, man; it’s a real trifecta of strong women. Here’s what I mean by that: our producer, Nina Jacobson; she’s a woman. Suzanne Collins, the author, a woman; your lead, Jennifer Lawrence, a woman; our heroine, Katniss Everdeen, a woman. These are strong women leading the way. I want these young women and the fans to walk away feeling empowered. Here’s these strong women being successful making movies, and it all comes on the heels of what Cate Blanchett said at the Oscars. “Hey, powerful women are making movies and are profitable.” I am so behind that. I love seeing these women having success and for Catching Fire, it was that. The whole Hunger Games is about a woman who is out kicking butt and doesn’t need a man to do it.
SPB: Yes, I think that message clearly came through. What are your upcoming projects?
BG: I’m doing an ad campaign, I can’t give it away yet, but we were in Brazil, shooting. It was amazing. I’m doing this action comedy coming out this year called Barely Lethal, directed by Kyle Newman, terrific director. It’s a great cast: Sam Jackson, Jessica Alba, Hailee Steinfeld. I just wrapped a film called Lazarus, a psychological thriller with Olivia Wilde. And The Vatican Tapes with Michael Peña and director Mark Neveldine, who’s awesome; he did Ghost Riders.
SBP: Did you have a strong, violent role like you had in Catching Fire for these movies?
BG: Let’s see; two of the three, yes. For the most part, I would say yes.
SPB: Since many of the actors in Hunger Games had worked together and you came on for Catching Fire, what was it like getting to know the cast who had previously known each other?
BG: This was a cast that was very open and welcoming. There was never a sense of, you’re the new guy, you’re the freshman. That only breeds creativity, which gave us a great chance to play and be in a position to do great work. It was inspiring. That’s really what it was, three to four months of inspiration on set with an amazing cast.
SPB: What attracted you to acting in the first place?
BG: I got my degree in advertising and marketing and graduated in journalism. I was in New York working for an ad agency and thinking “this is not what I want to do” and my friend suggested an acting class. That was it. I never looked back. I got fired and that was the best thing that ever happened to me.
SPB: Do you think the journalism you studied plays a part in anything that you do?
BG: Oh, absolutely. That’s how you and I are able to sit here and have a great conversation. I think anything you put your mind to will somehow carry over and make you a well-rounded person.
SPB: Who is your inspiration?
BG: In the work sense or all around?
SPB: All around.
BG: You know what drives me? My brother. It’s that competition in a good way, when he is taking care of my business I want to take care of my business. In a healthy way; not so much competition, but it’s inspiration. I’m proud of him.
SPB: When you were growing up, what actors or actresses did you look up to?
BG: I came up in the era of the Pacinos the De Niros. That was my era. Those were the guys, John Voight, the Martin Scorsese time. That’s when I was going to the movies. Those guys lit it up for me.
SPB: I saw you were on Curb Your Enthusiasm. What was it like working with Larry David?
BG: Fantastic. It is straight-up improv. It’s like, here is the general idea of what we want to do. You can use these lines if you want, but you don’t have to.
SPB: Was it difficult?
BG: No! When you can just make up whatever you want and riffing off everyone in ten different takes. It was a lot of fun and he was great.
SPB: So you have worked in this big movie, different sitcoms, and soap operas. What is your favorite part of Hollywood to work with?
BG: Look, I love making films. It’s like going to summer camp. You go away for a couple of months and, as a team, you’re going to make something. That’s cool; I love that. I want to go to summer camp. I want to spend time with a team and deliver a story. I am a storyteller and I think I love that more than anything.
SPB: Are your fans crazy?
BG: They’re the best!! They’re passionate, they love to read, they love Suzanne Collins.
SPB: Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me. I loved your work in the film and good luck in the future.
Alexi Rabin ©March 6, 2014