Jan 9 2013 1:45pm

How Does Sam Claflin’s Finnick Odair Measure Up In These First Catching Fire Photos?

Catching Fire Entertainment Weekly cover Finnick Odair Sam Claflin sugar cubes scene nettingIt’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:

Catching Fire Entertainment Weekly cover Finnick Odair Sam Claflin sugar cubes scene netting

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 believeFinnick 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.’”

Catching Fire Entertainment Weekly cover Finnick Odair Sam Claflin sugar cubes scene netting

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.

1. SKM
They missed the boat completely on this casting--Sam Claflin is far too bland, pasty, and unappealing. It should have been Jesse Williams as Finnick, no contest. Argh.
2. joelfinkle
I'm probably in a minority on this, but I kept picturing Max Greenfield (Schmidt on New Girl) as Finnick. The arrogance, the douchiness, the emotional vulnerability... it just fit.
Natalie Zutter
3. nataliezutter
@SKM - I keep hearing the argument for Jesse Williams! But a lot of fans freaked out because he's not white... which is ridiculous. I definitely think the casting should've been colorblind.

@joelfinkle - Hmm! Did you know he was briefly considered for Christian Grey? I mean, what actor hasn't been really--but he's a contender I could've actually envisioned.
4. Phedre
I completely agree with you SKM. Sam may be a really nice guy and humble about the whole thing but he just is not Finnick.

I am very disappointed in the casting department about this decision. I am sure that there where actors out there who could do the physical and emotional challenges justice.

Jesse Williams would have been an ispired choice on so many levels! And he could pull off the vulnerable parts of Finnick in his sleep!

Sigh, oh well I will still go see the movie and probably enjoy it depite this misstep.
5. Bex1914
My Finnick's choice was Alex Pettyfer... he's sexy beyond words (take a quick look at his work in Magic Mike), and even when he exudes cockiness, he's capable to play the emotional guy well. Also, he looks 24. This boy doesn't. But well, let's see how it goes. I hated Josh Hutcherson's choice for Peeta, (sometimes I still do! he looks like a tiny, squared thing standing next to Jennifer and Liam), but the movie makers did their thing and on screen he looks like a great, adorable Peeta. Let's hope it will work out in the end...
6. Ds.
I don't know what everybody's whining about, I think Sam was perfect for the role and he's exactly how i imagined Finnick

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