The Hunger Games: Catching Fire opened with a $161 million take at the domestic box office over the weekend, making it one of the most lucrative November openings in history, coming just behind Iron Man 3 ($174 million) for the year. Starring Jennifer Lawrence and directed by Gary Ross, the film is now in the record books having the fourth-largest opening weekend behind The Avengers, Iron Man 3 and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II.
But the draw isn’t just the graphic violence of children killing one another for survival. The film takes place after a future nuclear holocaust from which a land that was formerly the United States emerges divided into 12 districts. Two child members from each district are selected to compete in The Hunger Games, a fight to the death against members from each of the other districts. The cast of this second installment features an eclectic mixture of accomplished acting talent that includes Golden Globe and Tony Award-winning thespian Jeffrey Wright who plays Beetee, an electronics expert and former Hunger Games winner from District 3.
During an interview with MTV News, he expressed his opinion regarding the manner in which the film, though set in an imaginary future, deals with contemporary issues.
"I read the books, not before being invited to be a part of it… and I realized that, yes, this is a huge movie and big budget and a lot of action and sci-fi elements and all that, but at the same time the messaging within these books and within the movies is really interesting and relevant, particularly for younger audiences," he said. "Issues around war and the consequences on warriors and people – the human elements of that – I don't think we can address enough. And if we can do it in a way that's as thrilling as these movies are, more power to us."
Pushing the intellectual, political envelope, Wright is on a roll these days, with the number one film at the box office on the big screen. And in small screen world, this weekend’s season finale of HBO’s Boardwalk Empire saw his notorious character, Liberian Brotherhood leader/Heroine dealer Dr. Valentin Narcisse, locked up and seemingly turned snitch by J. Edgar Hoover’s attempt to bring down Marcus Garvey and signs of a budding Black power movement. “He becomes what he despises at the beginning and that is a servant pretending to be a king,” he said, in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. “So it all comes full circle.”
Coming off a small role in George Tillman Jr’s, The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete, where he plays a homeless military veteran, Wright’s Dr. Narcisse will be back for the next season of Boardwalk Empire, continuing his mission to portray characters of substance with a thick backstory mixed in controversy and politics.