Panem is without its most famous drunk — for now. Though production began Monday in Atlanta on the highly anticipated “Hunger Games” follow-up “Catching Fire,” actor Woody Harrelson (who portrays oft-tipsy Haymitch Abernathy) was instead in Canada supporting his upcoming release “Seven Psychopaths” at the Toronto International Film Festival.
The actor, who said he was days away from flying to Georgia to film the dystopian drama, spoke with MTV News’ Josh Horowitz about how his portrayal of the District 12 mentor could change under new director Francis Lawrence‘s vision and how he prepped for the sequel.
But first things first: Has the actor even had the chance to read the script?
“Yeah, I read the script,” Harrelson answered rather incredulously. “I took a gander at the script, sure. … It’s good that you get to do that before they start shooting.”
All sarcasm aside, Harrelson revealed that he’s very pleased with the material, especially given the tight turnaround needed after Lawrence took over directing duties from Gary Ross in May.
“I think that it’s a really good script, a really strong script, so I feel good about that,” he said. “That’s the big question mark, since there was so little time to get that script together.”
As for his preparation process, Harrelson said he took an even deeper dive into Haymitch’s fragile, post-Games psyche.
“Francis had asked me if I had studied PTSD — post-traumatic stress disorder — and I actually did in college. I was a psychology minor. So I met a guy who has PTSD in Maui,” Harrelson said. “You know, I like the way Francis is very thorough, very on top of everything. I really feel great. I loved Gary. I thought Gary did an incredible job with the first one, but I do think Francis is going to do great with this.”
If Harrelson had one (albeit small) complaint about the first installment, it was that Ross didn’t allow him to go the full Haymitch — literally falling-down drunk. He hopes to remedy that in the sequel.
“I talked with Francis about that,” Harrelson said with a chuckle. “I’m going to try to go as far as possible. You know me. I’ll try to take it over the top.”
Check out everything we’ve got on “The Hunger Games :Catching Fire.”
For young Hollywood news, fashion and “Twilight” updates around the clock, visit HollywoodCrush.MTV.com.