It’s that time of year again: Entertainment Weekly has released their latest Hunger Games cover! Last year we got our first look at Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen, a photo that managed to shut up all the haters who had challenged her casting. This time around, the EW cover serves as the debut for Sam Claflin, who plays Catching Fire’s most anticipated character Finnick Odair.
Fan response to Sam has ranged from lukewarm to already penning fanfiction in his honor. And while we’ve gotten to glimpse several blurry set photos of Sam shirtless (check), with the bronze hair (check), and wielding Finnick’s trident (check), this is our first official shot. So what do you think?
Ever since Claflin got cast, I’ve wrestled with how I feel about him as Finnick. He still doesn’t 100% fit my mental image of the character, and there are actors out there who do. However, his dedication to training and actually engaging with fans to hear what Finnick means to them goes a long way toward accepting him as Katniss’ foil in Catching Fire. Consider this humble tweet from him this morning:
Well thankyou I guess to everyone for the kind comments. Couldn’t be happier. Not long to wait now #CATCHINGFIRE
Here’s a more hi-res version of the cover:
But that’s not all! EW also released this exclusive photo of Finnick cozying up to Katniss. Part of what makes their dynamic so fascinating is that after setting up the Peeta/Katniss/Gale love triangle in the first book, Suzanne Collins threw yet another guy into the mix for book two. Or so we’re led to believe—Finnick uses his good looks and charisma to disarm his opponents.
Lest you think that Claflin didn’t take his responsibility to embody this character incredibly seriously, he told EW how nerve-wracking it was to film the infamous “sugar cube” scene. A scene that’s consistently reblogged on Tumblr, it features Finnick wearing a strategically-placed piece of netting and teasing Katniss. Claflin confessed that filming that scene with Lawrence was “the scariest moment of my life. I’m on Twitter and so many people have been like ‘Don’t mess this up, or we will kill you.’”
So imagine this photo, only with less clothing.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire comes to theaters November 21, 2013.
Photos: Entertainment Weekly, Murray Close
Natalie Zutter is a playwright, foodie, and the co-creator of Leftovers, a webcomic about food trucks in the zombie apocalypse. Her writing has appeared on Ology and Crushable, where she discusses celebrity culture alongside internet memes (or vice versa). Weekly you can find her commenting on pop culture on KoPoint’s podcast AFK On Air, calling in to the Hunger Games Fireside Chat podcast, reviewing new releases at Movie Mezzanine, and on Twitter.