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In order to play Johanna in the final movies of The Hunger Games series, Jena Malone spent time researching post-traumatic stress disorder.
In an interview with Vulture, Malone talked about the importance of understanding the mental health condition. She said director Francis Lawrence had the cast meet with a PTSD specialist before filming Catching Fire. The specialist recommended that Malone read books about the effects of PTSD on a person’s body and personality.
“As soon as I started understanding what that horror is, what that anger is, I realized that [Johanna] had developed all these ways to be able to survive,” said Malone to the site. “Like, her getting naked in the elevator is an intimidation technique, but it’s also a nod to where she will be going. And the fact that a woman can use her nakedness as a weapon, and then someone later could use that same nakedness as a weapon against her, as a form of torture? It’s a wild thing!”
For Mockingjay — Part 2, where Johanna returns from being tortured at the Capitol, Malone continued to do research before deciding how to play Johanna’s scenes.
“With Johanna’s post-torture behavior, I did look up different things — torture techniques, and starvation and what jaundice does. And morphine addiction. A lot of it was so heavy, I was like, I don’t know!” said Malone. So she decided to play Johanna as “really raw” without clothes, makeup, hair or weapons.
“Just let her walk in with no pants on, not a smidge of anything that she owns,” said Malone, referring to the scene where Joanna takes Katniss‘ morphine for herself. “All she has is her body at this point. And just let her sit down and try to have a conversation with a woman that she moderately dislikes and majorly respects, you know? That’s what I focused on, more of their relationship.”
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