When you’re in the midst of filming what will, in the end, be a multi-billion dollar movie franchise about a dystopian future, you certainly want to put your young lead in peril on screen. One thing you don’t want to do, however, is kill her off in real life. A few days ago, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay came dangerously close to doing just that. During the filming of one particular scene, star Jennifer Lawrence was almost choked to death by a malfunctioning fog machine.
Yahoo reports that the renegade piece of equipment almost accomplished what President Snow (Donald Sutherland) has failed to do over the course of two movies, kill Katniss Everdeen. According to their sources, the Atlanta-based production was in the process of filming a scene where the heroine, Katniss, played by Lawrence, leads a group of people through a tunnel. If you’ve read Suzanne Collins’ novels that serve as the basis for the Hunger Games movies, you have to assume that this is when a crew of rebels attempt to infiltrate the heavily-guarded Capital through the sewer system that runs beneath the city.
In the scene the tunnel suddenly fills with smoke, but during the shoot, one of the fog machines went beserk and spewed out much more than it was supposed to. Before the techs could get it under control, there was so much smoke that everyone, including the 23-year-old Academy Award Winner, vanished into the haze. People where choking, coughing, and gagging, stumbling around, unable to find their way out to safety.
One assistant director yelled, “Shut off the smoke machines, get those big fans running…and get Jennifer out of there!” Let’s just assume that this person meant to get everyone out of harm’s way, and not just the important people. We get that she’s important to the movie, but this is real life we’re talking about. Otherwise that just seems mean.
Did Lawrence really almost die, or is this hyperbole? Probably mostly the latter—near death experiences while filming action movies do make for sensational news—but it does sound like there was a real element of danger. According to the source, “After several scary minutes, a rescue crew finally found the star and carried her out, hacking and gagging. Jennifer’s one tough gal, but she looked really shook up, and kept complaining she felt very nauseous – like she was suffering from vertigo.” It sounds like she’s okay, and there’s no permanent damage done, so we can all be glad for that.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay is currently filming and will appear in two parts, first next November, and again in November 2015 to round out the lucrative young adult franchise.