By: Stephanie Amy Collazo
Photo Credit: Rob Shields
With her first big screen appearance as Primrose Everdeen in the adaptation of The Hunger Games, child actress Willow Shields is set to make her Hollywood debut in one of the most anticipated films of the year. Becoming familiar with the character prior to hearing about the auditions, the 11-year-old was excited to play the role of Prim, and with the release of the film (which already promises an exceptional cast comprised of Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson) right around the corner, Willow took some time to talk to YRB about her experience on the set of what has become one of the most talked about series since Twilight.
YRB: What’s it like being a young actress in Hollywood?
Willow: It’s so much fun. There are a lot of great things; I mean, just being able to act and meeting such amazing people, meeting amazing cast members.
YRB: What’s your favorite movie?
Willow: I recently saw Hugo, that’s one of my new favorite movies because I read the book. I really liked the book, and then I went to see the movie and thought it was amazing.
YRB: Is that your favorite book as well?
Willow: It’s one of my favorites. Any book by Tera Lynn Childs, she writes a lot of books about Greek mythology, there are a couple books by her that I really love.
YRB: Are there any child actors that you look to for inspiration?
Willow: Yeah, definitely. I really look to Chloë Moretz, in Hugo she was amazing, but she’s just an amazing actress. Hailee Steinfeld, she’s really amazing, so those are two actresses that I really look up to.
YRB: This is your first full-length movie, are you excited to be on the big screen?
Willow: Very excited! I’m a little nervous to see how they put everything together.
YRB: How did you get the role?
Willow: Well, I auditioned in New Mexico and I sent a taped audition to L.A. I got a call back, I ended up flying into L.A. and I met with Gary Ross. I did the audition and then right after we were kind of talking and he was like, ‘Welp, you don’t have to worry about doing the audition again because you got the part.’ That was really exciting to just know right there on the spot, to know that I got the part.
YRB: Had you read the books or heard of The Hunger Games before your involvement with the film?
Willow: Yeah, my brother and my mom had read them a couple years before and are huge fans. So I was actually almost done with the first book before I got the audition. My mom had said, ‘Okay, you can read the book now that you’re 11,’ so I started reading the book and I started to become a big fan. Then I got the audition for Prim once I was almost done with the first book; it was really crazy being on an audition for Prim.
YRB: What was it like working with actors Elizabeth Banks and Woody Harrelson?
Willow: It was awesome. I have not met Woody Harrelson yet, so I am excited to hopefully meet him soon, but Elizabeth Banks is amazing. You can see in the trailer, she’s just the perfect Effie. She’s just super nice and really funny in real life, so she’s the perfect Effie.
YRB: Did you become close with Jennifer Lawrence while filming?
Willow: Definitely. Jennifer’s like the perfect movie sister. We basically became sisters on the set; we were so close and it was just amazing to work with her.
YRB: Do you look up to Jennifer at all, considering she is a young actress who has been previously nominated for an Oscar?
Willow: She is so talented. She is one of the most amazing actresses I have ever seen. It’s just great to be working with her; she is definitely an inspiration to me.
YRB: Did you learn anything on set?
Willow: Yeah, Jennifer was always giving me advice. Some of the best advice some of the cast members gave me was: even when you become a big actress you still have to stay true to yourself and still be the person you were before you started acting. I think I learned a lot on set from all of the actors and actresses, and that’s one of the things that I hold on to from all of them.
YRB: What’s next? Are you working on any movies?
Willow: Well, no. I’m auditioning for some great parts, so we’ll see. I’m looking at some great scripts and just super excited to start shooting the next Hunger Games movie, hopefully