Spoiler alert: If you haven't read or seen "The Hunger Games," vital character details are revealed below.
Even though it's been five months since the blockbuster movie adaptation of Suzanne Collins' international best-selling novel hit theaters, some of the stars of "The Hunger Games" are thrilled the movie is living on in a big way -- even though their characters have perished.
Take for instance Amandla Stenberg, who plays fan favorite Rue: a diminutive District 11 Tribute who is at the core of the one of the most emotional scenes in the film.
"I always feel bad when people tell me, 'I cried when you died.' I don't know what to do when that happens. Do I say, 'Thank you? Or do I say, I'm sorry'? I don't know," said Stenberg with a puzzled laugh. "I don't want to take credit it for it, but it's Rue's death that really starts the revolution in book three. She sparks Katniss in a big way."
In new interviews for the Saturday release of the film on DVD and Blu-Ray (Lionsgate Home Entertainment), Stenberg and fellow stars Diyo Okeniyi and Willow Shields told me they're excited about the release of the film on home video because it will give fans access to even more of the worldwide movie hit.
"This thing is chock-full of special features, so people will really get a chance to delve into what it was really like to make this movie and to bring Suzanne Collins' vision to life," said Okeniyi, who plays Thresh, Rue's fellow District 11 Tribute. "They're going to be really pleased with all the stuff on the DVD and Blu-ray."
Directed by Gary Ross from a script co-written by Ross and Collins, "The Hunger Games" is set largely in the evil Capitol of the nation of Panem, the future ruins of what was once known as North America. It's there where each of the country's 12 Districts annually sends a teenage boy and girl to compete in the Hunger Games: a nationally-televised event where the participants, known as Tributes, must fight each other to the death, until one survivor remains.
Jennifer Lawrence stars as Katniss Everdeen, a District 12 Tribute who volunteers herself to take part in the games in place of her younger sister, Primrose (Shields), who would likely not survive long in the brutal environment.
Although a controversy about the violence in the film brewed around the time of its release in theaters, Shields said viewers with concerns need to look beyond that.
"A lot of people may want look at that book and movie and say, 'Oh, my God, it's just full of violence.' But I think of it as a story about Katniss fighting for her family, so I don't look at it that way," Shields said.
Okeniyi agrees with Shields' assessment, saying it's the bond between Katniss and Primrose that should matter most to people.
"If you look at the core of the story -- it's about a girl sacrificing for the one she loves. It's the story about a girl who takes the place of her sister, knowing that she might not make it back to her family. I think that intrigues people more than the spectacle of the action and the sci-fi element," Okeniyi said. "The part of the story that really gets people is the thought of, 'Oh, my gosh, what if my sister was put in Prim's position, would I sacrifice for her? Would I be courageous enough to boldly go to a place where I might not make it back? The violence is just a backdrop for the whole thing."
That's not to say the violence doesn't have any meaning. Stenberg believe it's a very important element of the story that drives the film's point home.
"The story is kind of like a cautionary tale. It's happened in the past with the Roman Coliseum and people fighting each other to the death, so the story sort of pulls from that and puts it in the future," Stenberg said. "It's like a word of caution because people have become too desensitized to violence."
Shields, who is one of the few younger stars returning to the work on "Catching Fire" this fall, said she's already read the script, and thinks fans are going to be pleased with what they see.
"I think fans are going to love it because it sticks very, very close to the book," Shields said. "I'm really excited to go shoot 'Catching Fire' because I get to go hang out with Jennifer again. It's going to be really fun.
"Primrose gets more mature in 'Catching Fire' and she plays a bigger role in the story, so that's really exciting."
While Stenberg and Okeniyi won't be a part of the next "Hunger Games" films, they can at least say they had the joys of experiencing the madness of the "Hunger Games" nationwide mall tour, a massively popular event that brought fans out in droves before the film was released in theaters in March.
"I felt like one of the Backstreet Boys. The acceptance was of Justin Bieber proportions," Okeniyi said, laughing. "The crazy thing was, the movie hadn't even come out yet and fans were trying to find us in our hotels. The passion was incredible. To be a part of something like that, all narcissism aside, it was a very humbling experience."
Even better, the film met expectations, which came as a big relief to Okeniyi and his fellow cast members.
"Oh man, you don't want to be in the crew that messed up Suzanne Collins' work," Okeniyi said with a laugh.