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First Look At Liam Hemsworth And Josh Hutcherson As Gale And Peeta In The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games had a quiet but powerful presence at this year's Comic Con, providing no new footage or images or even a panel about the highly anticipated book adaptation, but instead hanging out at a booth on the exhibition floor and handing out Mockingjay pins, exact replicas of the pin our heroine Katniss wears in the book (you can see mine here). Lionsgate is hoping to turn Suzanne Collins's hit three-book series into a four-movie franchise, and they've started the marketing to fans early, revealing our first look at Jennifer Lawrence in costume as Katniss before filming even began, and today on the cover of Entertainment Weekly showing off the two male leads, Liam Hemsworth as Gale and Josh Hutcherson as Peeta. Check out the cover image below.

As is usually the case with EW's big splashy cover stories, they're giving us a brief tease here with more images and a full story to come once the issue hits stands. What we know from the online version, though, is that they visited the set of The Hunger Games in North Carolina midway through shooting, where Hutcherson revealed that he and Hemsworth have become best pals during filming-- though they play romantic rivals in the film-- and director Gary Ross promises that Hemsworth isn't just some beefcake, but "a phenomenally subtle actor." Hemsworth and Hutcherson reportedly spent six weeks together on the set, which is honestly more than I would have expected-- Gale's role is very tiny in the first book, only expanding in the second two books in the series, Catching Fire and Mockingjay. He's Katniss's childhood best friend who has just emerged as a potential romantic partner for her when her name is drawn to participate in the brutal fight to the death, the Hunger Games. Peeta, on the other hand, is sent to fight in the games right alongside Katniss, and the two spend the entire book first charged with killing one another in the games and then helping each other survive. How did Hemsworth even manage to spend six weeks down there? I assumed they'd expand his role a little in the first movie just to fully establish the love triangle, but that even seems to be pushing it.

As for the look, both of them really seem to have nailed it, though getting used to Hutcherson with blond hair is going to be strange. EW points out that he did a lot of bicep training to build up the beefy arms you'd expect from a baker's son used to lifting heavy bags of flour, while Hemsworth, as the underfed and striving coal miner Gale, is a lot stringier and thinner. Everything about The Hunger Games so far seems to be nailing the feel of the books-- but the proof will all be in how the story unfolds on the screen. We still have a while to wait-- The Hunger Games opens March 23 next year.

Staff Writer at CinemaBlend