When the sequel to Hunger Games, 'Catching Fire', was going into pre-production, there was a lot of buzz and expectation surrounding the casting of two major roles - Finnick Odair and Johanna Mason. It was announced pretty early on that Jena Malone was the frontrunner, and indeed, she got the role. However, the casting of Finnick Odair was more hotly contested - the fancasting and short lists released early on seem to consist of every major young actor in Hollywood, and there was no clue to which way the role was going. However, there was a name that was pretty consistently tossed around - Garrett Hedlund. All outlets seem to report that Lionsgate and Francis Lawrence, the director of 'Catching Fire', wanted Armie Hammer or Garrett Hedlund for the role. Armie was ruled out early on, but Hedlund's name was still in the mix. It was even rumored that he auditioned for the role, and had done an amazing job of it.
However, it was not meant to be. Eventually, the role went to Sam Claflin. Now, Hedlund is speaking up about why he didn't take the role. At the Toronto International Film Festival, while promoting 'On the Road, he spoke to MTV about what happened. "They did [approach me]," Hedlund admitted. "But I was working on this film at the time. We shot the whole film in 23 days and I was really immersed in it. I couldn't get around [to reading the 'Hunger Games' novels]."
"Everybody around me is flipping out about the books, and I didn't really have the time to sit down lately to read any book, not just 'Hunger Games,'" he explained. "But I've got a couple [projects] on my plate that I'm looking forward to reading now."
Even though Hedlund will not Finnick Odair, everyone is looking forward to Sam Claflin's portrayal of the famous character. Even Jennifer Lawrence spoke up during TIFF (where she was also promoting her upcoming movie, Silver Linings Playbook). "He's wonderful," she said of Claflin. "He's really sweet, a great, wonderful actor. He's got a great American accent."