Amber Chaney talks about Avox Girl & The Hunger Games

Actress Amber Chaney talks about her new film, The Hunger Games.

Based on “The Hunger Games” trilogy of young adult novels by Suzanne Collins, the film features Chaney as Lavinia the Avox Girl, a Capitol servant who seems familiar to heroine Katniss Everdeen.


Tell us how you scored the role of Avox Girl?

I was working on this play called “Circle Mirror Transformation,” for which I was playing the part of Teresa. I get this call from my agent asking me to audition for this film (they used a code name) that would shoot in April. I said, “I can’t do it. That will interfere with the show run.” She said she understood and sent her apologies to the casting director, Jackie Burch.

Jackie called me on my home phone that day or the next day and said, “no… you don’t understand… this is ‘The Hunger Games.’” I told her that I had heard of the books, but I just didn’t realize how big a deal it was. She said she LOVED me for the part of the Avox Girl and to tape my audition ASAP! So, I set up some lights in my kitchen and let ‘er rip.

My agent called me later in the show run (just before I was about to go on stage) and said I got the part, and that they would work with me on my shoot dates, so I wouldn’t have to miss any of the play. It was bittersweet. I was jumping up and down in my dressing room, but I wasn’t allowed to tell anyone… the whole project being top-secret and all. I arranged a big dinner with my family for Easter and told them I had huge news; that I would be in a huge movie, but I couldn’t tell them which one. We all laughed about it. It was great!

It’s one thing to play a character with lots of dialogue, but your Avox Girl can’t speak given her lack of tongue. Describe the difficulties of playing a character where you need to communicate emotion without using your voice?

Well… in the acting program I was trained in we weren’t allowed to speak in our improv class for the first year. So, this really wasn’t a stretch. Lavinia (the Avox Girl’s name) has – just like any other character – an objective and an obstacle. Usually the character’s obstacle isn’t so blatant as “missing a tongue so I can’t cry for help,” so you really have to do your homework. I created a huge back story for her. Why would someone who lives a privileged life in the Capitol be fleeing to a District 13 that may or may not exist? I think it has to do with secrets… secrets that Finnick gets into in “Mockingjay” [the third book in the series].

How true is the movie to the books?

Unfortunately, you will see that many of your secondary characters were cut out for time purposes in the movie. I suppose that is to keep from having a five-hour-long movie. That being said, the themes are ever-present, and I can’t stress this enough – it is not a story about Team Gale or Team Peeta. This is not “Twilight.” You can’t compare the two. They are apples and oranges.

It’s a story about survival in the face of oppression and this girl becoming a symbol of hope in a hopeless world. The Avox Girl was the only sense of humanity for Katniss to cling to (besides Cinna – but she wasn’t completely sure if she could trust Cinna yet, either) in the Capitol.

You’ve had minor roles on ‘The Walking Dead,’ – given that The Hunger Games is a huge film with a lot of positive buzz, has it been weird for you that people are constantly talking about you and the movie now?

I realised the movie was going to be huge when [another actress] claimed that she had been cast as the Avox Girl, and people had become furious. Like, outraged! So, Lionsgate decided they needed to announce me and set the record straight.

The comments that I saw over people’s relief that it was me were overwhelming. There were still some that thought I wasn’t the best choice, but the announcement started fan mail pouring in from just about every country on the globe. I will never be able to fully express my gratitude for this project bringing me that kind of fan base.