In October of 2013, a spontaneous trip to a little off-the-beaten-path zoo in Georgia resulted in an unexpected face-to-face encounter with a major celebrity. A majorly good-looking, majorly talented, and majorly studly celebrity. A celebrity in a major motion picture with major co-stars. He was quite impressive to look at, but somehow I managed to keep my composure together. He was even nice enough to let me take a selfie with him. It was a majorly amazing experience, because he was one of the major stars in one of my all-time favorite movie series.
People. I met a celebrity from The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1.
Okay, so he didn’t get too close, but if you look way in the background, you can see him. No, I haven’t lost my mind – it’s the elk. He’s the major character I met 🙂
That October Jay, the girls, and I had taken a trip to Georgia with Jay’s parents. We found ourselves a little stumped for something fun to do with the girls one afternoon, and after a little Googling we discovered that we weren’t too far from a small zoo. We packed up the car and headed out to Chestatee Wildlife Preserve & Zoo.
Once we got there, we wandered around for a bit enjoying the animals – and then turned a corner and saw this:
It was a blue screen, a tool moviemakers use to change the background behind an actor, animal, or other object. I stopped one of the zookeepers and asked about the screen setup. She told me that the preserve was a popular spot for filmmakers – specifically, the animals. She said that they had just wrapped up the day before and were probably coming back to clean up their equipment later that day or the next. I asked her if she knew which movie they had been working on (it’s always fun to know these things), and she said something like, “I think they said it was some famous movie about… games? They were filming that elk over there, I think he’s a major character in the movie or something.” I asked her if she was talking about The Hunger Games, and she said, “Yeah, I think that’s it.”
I instantly could not stop beaming, and immediately snapped a picture and sent a text to my best friend and fellow Hunger Games nut, Sanne. All I kept thinking was that if I’d just been there the day before I might have seen Peeta. Hey, a girl can dream, right? 😀
As soon as I got home I scanned the book to see if there was any mention of an elk. I couldn’t remember one, but maybe I’d just forgotten. I also searched the internet, but there was no mention of an elk anywhere in the book there either. What was the deal with this “major character?”
Fast-forward a year, and the day after Mockingjay was released Sanne and I are in a movie theater in Times Square munching our Milk Duds and popcorn. Suddenly, there he is – the elk! He appears in the scene where Katniss and Gale are hunting in the woods above District 13. They come across him, observe him for a minute, then decide to let him live. And that’s it. That’s the elk’s major role in the movie. You can laugh now, especially because Peeta wasn’t even in the scene.
I did some digging online, and found a blip about the elk in an interview by Vincent Frei. He interviewed Charles Gibson, a Production Visual Effects Supervisor on the film, and this was their exchange on the subject (you can read the whole interview here):