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You may know him best as Cato, the complicated villain who learns a lesson or two about mortality in the first film installment of The Hunger Games, but Canadian-native Alexander Ludwig has been showcasing his acting chops since the tender age of eight. Starring in other major motion pictures such as 2007’s ‘The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising’ and Disney’s ‘Race to Witch Mountain,’ Alexander is no novice when it comes to the demands and dedication it takes to carry a big-budget, special effects-heavy, action flick. With an upcoming role in the hilarious sequel to Grown Ups, he’ll share the screen with high-profile celebs like Adam Sandler, Salma Hayek and fellow heartthrob Taylor Lautner.
The magnetic 20-year-old has also approached his career in a manner more strategic than other actors of his generation. By choosing to attend the University of Southern California, along with appearing in summer blockbusters, and by recently announcing a new, innovative way that he intends to interact with his fans online, Alexander definitely has his sights set on his future. In this Trend Hunter interview, I had a chance to discuss this, and a whole lot more, with the talented, young star.
1) How did you first get involved in acting and what motivates you to continue?
Ever since I can remember, I wanted to be an actor. I asked mom when I was about nine or ten to take me to her agent in Vancouver, and I was fortunate enough to land a Harry Potter commercial in the first week I was signed with the agent. Once that happened, I was hooked, and I knew I had to follow this path.
2) ‘The Hunger Games’ is still playing in theatres and is one of the biggest films of this year. What was it like to play such an integral role in this film and how has the experience affected you?
I feel extremely fortunate to have been a part of such a phenomenon and I am really happy that the fans felt that we honoured this incredible story. I think for me personally, HG [Hunger Games] has opened doors and has given me access to meet extremely talented directors, actors and producers.
3) Although Cato’s character seems to be villainous upon introduction, he is really a victim of circumstance. How did you get into the mindset of this character and do you have any similarities to him in real life?
Becoming Cato was a process that I undertook in a very serious way. Gary Ross and I collaborated a great deal in terms of the direction that we felt Cato should take. It was through that collaboration that the final scene emerged as a means of showing the audience the humane yet twisted side of the character. Cato was a broken man at the end of the movie, and although I don’t have personal experience that parallels his journey, I did relate to his loss and resolution. I enjoyed exploring the dark recesses of his mind.
4) How do you reset yourself to be creative? Do you have any rituals?
Fortunately, being creative is not something that I have a difficult time with—I think I’m just hardwired that way. I just need to make sure I’m in a good zone personally, and it all happens. I think I’m at my best if I’m close to nature and water. Surfing and skiing are a big part of the process.
5) Can you tell us about any upcoming roles or future projects you have in the works?
I’m currently working on ‘Grown Ups 2’ with Adam Sandler, David Spade, Chris Rock and a ton of other amazing actors. I play David Spade’s son, and I am having a blast. I have never met a more cohesive and fun group of guys than the Happy Madison team. They are the best.
6) Is there a must-play character that you’d like to portray one day?
I think it would be cool to do a Western one day.
7) After achieving similar success, many young actors would be inclined not to go to college. Why was it important to you to enroll in university and what do you study?
I was always brought up to think that University was going to be a part of my life. Attending USC (University of Southern California) is one of the best experiences I have ever had and I’d encourage everyone to give college a shot.
8) You recently revealed to your fans that you would be doing regular Ustream sessions for them to partake in online. Why is it important for you to connect to your fans in this way?
I wouldn’t be where I am today without my fans. I truly mean that. I view this whole journey as something that we are all on together, and I always want them to have input into my career.
9) Professionally, what do you want to be doing in 10 years?
Acting, music, directing. These are my passions.
10) How do you define cool?
Anyone who isn’t afraid to be who they really are.
11) How do you define a trend?
A popular movement of some sort.
12) Currently, what is the most important trend you’ve witnessed in the entertainment industry?
Social media: Twitter, Ustream, anything that links us as individuals to each other.