Donald Sutherland says his "Hunger Games" co-star Jennifer Lawrence is "a wonder" and compares her to the late iconic star Sir Laurence Olivier.
Sutherland, 76, made his comments to OnTheRedCarpet.com ahead of the release of the sci-fi film, which hits theaters on Friday, March 23. During the sit-down interview, the actor sported an eye patch after suffering a scratched cornea. Warning: Spoiler alert!
Lawrence, a 21-year-old actress who was nominated for an Oscar for the 2010 movie "Winter's Bone," plays Katniss Everdeen in "The Hunger Games." The movie is set in a post-apocalyptic future where a boy and girl from various districts of the land of Panem are chosen and taken to a massive area to fight to the death.
Everdeen is one of the warriors, or tributes. Their actions are filmed and broadcast like a reality show. Sutherland plays the cruel President Snow.
"How brilliant that child Jennifer Lawrence is," Sutherland told OnTheRedCarpet.com. "I said to somebody earlier today .. 'Change your name to Jennifer Lawrence Olivier.' Be done with it. Just get the 'Jennifer' away and call herself 'Sir.'"
Olivier, a British Shakespearean actor and director, won an Oscar for the 1948 film adaptation of "Hamlet" and was nominated for 10 other Academy Awards before he died in 1989 at age 82.
"What a wonder, she is," Sutherland said. "Do you know how difficult it is to play a character that becomes a genius? That becomes this genius of a Joan of Arc, in the middle of that coliseum and whose genius develops, unknown to her, it just takes over her and animates everything. All the impulses that she does are correct, are correct because of the genius of this leader that's in her character."
"When she reaches down and grabs a handful of those berries and puts them in her pocket ... her character recognizes instinctively that they're a weapon that maybe she can use. Most actors will in some way give a little indication that they know that they're going to need it later. Not her," he said, kissing the air. "Wonderful."
"The Hunger Games" is based on the first book in Suzanne Collins' series, which has a fan following, mostly among teenage girls.
Lawrence told OnTheRedCarpet.com Ross directed the film "like a war movie." Sutherland addressed its political themes.
"Reading that script, I was filled with a passion and belief that this film could be a catalyst for what I thought was maybe a dormant young generation of people who had not taken up arms in the political struggle that we're in today," he said.
Sutherland starred in the 1970 comedy war film "MASH" and is also known for movies such as "Cold Mountain" and "The Italian Job."
"My wife said to me ... 'You've done a lot of pictures now where you die,'" he said. "I said, 'Yes.' She said, 'Do you think we could get clips of those?' I said, 'What do you mean?' She said, 'Clips of those death scenes.' And then I realized, I said, 'You want them for the funeral?' She said, 'Well, it's all right, you can do the voiceover.' I said, 'Oh, terrific, thanks a lot.'"
Reporting by Cari Skillman of KABC Television, which produces the entertainment show "On The Red Carpet" (check for local TV listings).