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I was asked to interview Elden Henson, who plays Pollux (the Avox, a mute) in Mockingjay, and my first thought was,
“What in the world am I going to talk to a guy who does not speak in The Hunger Games about for 15 minutes?”
But then I remembered I’m part of the team who carried a cardboard cut out of Robert Pattinson half naked through Downtown LA in front of hundreds of people while wearing a cocktail dress, so I can bullshit my way through an interview with SOMEONE WHO DOESN’T SPEAK for 15 minutes. Plus Elden was in The Mighty Ducks (AH) and is currently starring in Daredevil, so there was plenty to talk about!
Thankfully, Elden was the loveliest guy EVER, so easy to talk to, laid back and excited to talk about his projects and show me pictures of his 1 year old- he’s a total dad, guys. Elden lives in NYC with his wife and son about half the year now that they’re shooting season 2 of Daredevil. I asked him how season 2 is going so far:
Elden: It’s awesome. I still can’t believe I’m in The Hunger Games and on Dare devil. And I have a kid. My whole life just totally got crazy in a really good way!
TN: I was looking at your IMDB and you’ve been a working actor since, forever.
Elden: Yeah, I started pretty young. You know what it is? I LOVE movies. It’s really cool thing to be able to have a job that you love. And i still get excited about movies coming out and meeting other actors. And that’s why The Hunger Games was really cool for me. The actors they have in the movies- it’s insane. I can’t believe i’m working with them- or with Woody Harrelson who is in the make up chair next to me!
I mention that I saw a pretty awesome Woody Harrelson picture of him being so very Woody Harrelson on one of The Mockingjay red carpets. And he said and he said that someone sent him a picture of him showing up “in his pajamas or something”
Oh yes, that happened:
Elden: It’s been awhile since we shot the movie.
TN: At least 2 years, right?
Elden: Yeah, it’s crazy because being that my wife got pregnant right when we started shooting, it didn’t really sink in because i was so preoccupied with being the worst father of all time and so now it’s starting to sink in. I see the trailers on TV and think: “I’m in this movie?”
I wanted to find out about the two fandoms he’s a part of: The Hunger Games and The Marvel universe. Are they similar? Are they crazy? Who is worse? Screaming teens or geeky boys?
Elden: I’m really grateful to the Lionsgate crew [The Hunger Games Studio] because getting THG opened a lot of doors for me and is a big reason why I was considered for the role in Daredevil. You know, I know they’re different genres and stuff, but there is a real similarity in the sense that the fans are really passionate about it and I can respond to that because I was a real movie nerd growing up. I love movies so I admire when people are that passionate about something. The fans are really cool. The experience has been great getting to interact with fans and getting to meet so many people.
TN: Do you have any fav fan interaction moments?
Elden: You know what’s funny? The day that they announced I was doing the movie, a girl stopped me on the street and said “Hey they just announced you’re doing Hunger Games!” and I was like- That is insane! Because you know people in the industry will read the trade papers, but that shows you how into it the fans are that they are seeking out this information even before we are shooting it. Literally the day it was announced.”
Oh- how little he knows about fans!
Elden: My niece loves the movies. She’s 16 now, and she lives in London. So when we were shooting in Berlin she came out for her birthday and got to meet everybody.
TN: Oh you were the COOLEST uncle.
Elden: Yeah, I really was, man! I got so many points. She was actually the first person I called when I found out I got the part. She had some friends spending the night, and I could hear them all screaming in the background and stuff! I got a bunch of people to sign her books. That was probably where I got the greatest enjoyment to see how happy she was to meet the people. It’s really cool!
TN: In this role- you have no speech. How was that- acting without that tool?
Elden: I joke and say it required a lot of eyebrow acting! It was really great- incredibly liberating. It was something that I thought would be challenging but I would be really into. I was in really good hands. Right before we started shooting I was having dinner with Francis [Lawrence, the director] and said is there anything I should know about this character and he said no- Everything is all in there. The important thing to remember is that with all the terrible things that have happened, Pollux still chooses to see the beauty in the world. And that really resonated with me and that’s where I started from.
While we were shooting I tried to be conscious of talking less- not like a method actor – but I tried to really only talk when people talked to me. It was a little thing to do to keep me focused and luckily I had so many great actors to work with. It wasn’t hard to be there in the moment when Jen [Lawrence. Katniss. Duh] is giving this really impassioned speech – I’m not acting right there- it’s just really moving!
TN: What do you think that Pollux offers the rebellion or the world- despite not having speech?
Elden: Aside from being the camera-man…. I think that a lot of the charcaters in the movie- Like Katniss is the reluctant hero. A lot of the characters around her help her take on the things that she needs to take on and maybe she wouldn’t want to, but when she sees how improtant it is to the other characters…. One of the cool things about my character is that he wears the Mockingjay pin throughout the whole movie and clearly it was something that I felt like he must have made himself and I think it’s important when a character is on their journey to see that people around them that believe in them and believe in what they are capable of. Maybe even if they don’t know it!
TN: In the first movie you have the emotional scene when Katniss is singing the hanging tree to you. Is there a moment in the 2nd film that is of that emotional significance?
Elden: There is. Pollux sorta becomes internal to the plot in helping Katniss get to where she needs to go. My favorite sequence in the movie is the underground tunnel sequence- just because it was fun to shoot! I remember Francis showing me a playback of something we were shooting and he’ll listen to music a lot when there’s no dialogue in the scene and he played some music for me and I watched the playback and it was just this quick thing of us running in these tunnels, and I was like.. This is gonna be awesome!!! And to see it done, it totally surpassed my imagination as to how cool it would be. So that’s a fun thing to be a part of.
And I think the world of Francis, not only as an artist but as a human being. I’m so lucky to have worked with him because I was a fan of his before working with him.
I got to see Catching Fire really early on the shooting process. And I was blown away. So I know Mockingjay was going to be awesome. I hope to direct some day so I was always asking him things- I was probably annoying! “What size lens are you using?” He was probably like “dude just get over there and do your eyebrow acting!”
TN: Team Gale or Team Peeta?
Elden: well, you know that’s a difficult question because I feel like either way I’m going to disappoint some people but…(thinks)
TN: Had your read the books before…
Elden: No but I lied and told everyone I did!
TN: Well that’s how you get jobs in Hollywood isn’t it?
Elden: (laughs) Well we didn’t have a lot of time by the time I got the job and until we started shooting. As soon as I got the job I read the 3rd book. If I had to answer I’d say Peeta.
TN: I was always a Team Gale girl
Elden: Well, he is dreamy!
TN: Which of the The Mighty Ducks players would win The Hunger Games?
Elden: (thinks) I would have to go with my character!
TN: How would you kill your opponents?
Elden: With my slap-shot (laughs)! I would just drop a puck and wack it at them really hard
TN: Last question: Is it very important for you to work on movies that have a bird in their title?
Elden: Yes. I love birds (laughs)