Dayo Okeniyi spoke with IM on the first full day of The Hunger Games’ national release.
Kaley Belakovich: What was your audition process like for The Hunger Games?
Dayo Okeniyi: It was like any other audition. I got a call from my managers and they said, “Hey, we got this audition for you,” and I went in and read once, actually. And then I kept getting calls saying, “Oh, this producer’s seen your tape, this producer’s seen the tape.” And then when I was actually supposed to go in for my second audition, I got a call that morning that [director] Gary [Ross] just went in and cast me and I wouldn’t have to audition again. So I only read once; they put me on tape once.
KB: What was the training process like for the role?
DO: It was intense. The book describes Thresh as a physical wonder. So I had two months and a half to put on a lot of good weight for the role. They had me doing an hour and a half of physical training, an hour and a half of stunt choreography, and all kinds of weapons training every day for two months before the movie. So it was pretty intense.
KB: Did you read the books before you auditioned?
DO: Oh, yeah. I mean, I had to. I actually didn’t know much about the books or the story or anything when I got the call that I was going to audition, but in my preparation for the role I got the books immediately and I read them and completely fell in love with the story. I was completely hooked. And I went online and did the search, and I saw that the whole series had a life of its own and a huge fan base, and I was extremely overwhelmed. But yeah, then I became a fan like everybody else.
KB: How well do you feel the movie sticks to the books?
DO: I think the movie does a really great job of sticking to the books. I mean, I think [author of The Hunger Games trilogy] Suzanne Collins put it best. She said that the movie is a great companion to the books. And I completely agree with her. I think it’s always very difficult when you make an adaptation. I mean, there’s only so much you can cram into a two-hour-plus movie from a very big book.
Read the rest of the interview on Indiana Monthly.