When it comes to the “Hunger Games” franchise, all roads lead to Jennifer Lawrence’s Katniss. But that doesn’t mean director Francis Lawrence, who was behind the camera for “Catching Fire” and both parts of “Mockingjay,” is averse to showing what happens when his lead character isn’t onscreen.
“Because the books are so Katniss-centric, and every scene you see and hear and experience is through Katniss’ eyes, we have an opportunity to expand outward from her a bit in the movies,” Lawrence told HuffPost Entertainment. “But there’s a point at which scenes feel like they don’t work.”
This deleted scene from “Mockingjay – Part 1″ was one of those. Set to appear in the film’s first act, the excised sequence — which was released by Lionsgate on Monday, following a global Internet scavenger hunt — focuses on a conversation between President Snow (Donald Sutherland) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), where the duplicitous Capitol leader demands his captive guest help quash the forthcoming uprising.
“If you look at ‘Catching Fire,’ there are definitely scenes where Katniss is not present, where we see Snow making plans about Katniss and talking to Plutarch,” Lawrence said. “There are scenes like that in this movie as well, and we thought we would be able to cut away to Snow and see him interact with Peeta. But for some reason, because it wasn’t as directly linked to Katniss, it didn’t feel like it worked. It just sort of fell on the other side of that balance for us. Where it felt like we were sort of experiencing some information that Katniss never would have. It felt like we were cheating a little too much.”
As Lawrence explained, not only did the scene put the audience ahead of Katniss with regard to the safety and well-being of Peeta, it also robbed the film of its narrative drive.
“The big dramatic question of ‘Mockingjay – Part 1′ is will we get Peeta back? Is Peeta okay?” Lawrence said. “To see Peeta alive, looking pretty well and being brought into a nice place for an interview feels like it was letting a little air out of the bag. It gave away too much. So sort of for the combination of those reasons, we let it go.”
And while Lawrence said cutting the scene was ultimately a pretty easy decision for him to make, it did pose one problem: it’s one of the few moments in “Mockingjay – Part 1″ where President Snow’s worldview is clearly laid out.
“I know Donald wasn’t happy that the scene was cut,” Lawrence said. “It’s a little trickier with Donald, because we are so careful with the brief amount of time we get to spend with him on screen. We want to make sure Snow is presented in a way without judgment, in terms of his philosophies. It becomes a bigger, thematic conversation with him about the character.”