We’ve had the weekend to slightly calm down over the fact that Sam Claflin has been cast as Finnick Odair in Catching Fire, but let’s be honest, the craziness is just starting. Shortly after the announcement, Sam sent out these adorable, genuinely grateful tweets thanking new fans and old ones:
It’s beginning. I’m so excited. Thank you all for the support – for welcoming me into #theHungerGames family @Mockingjaynet @TheHob @sparkswillflyco @HGFiresideChat and all my usual suspects – you know who you are (the loyal cadets) #TeamFinnick here we come! Ths again x
And now that we’re over the idea of him “kissing” Josh Hutcherson, we can start to evaluate the reaction at large from fandom and media. Actually, he would do well to ask his co-star Josh for advice, since a year ago he was in the same boat, an unknown with this high-pressure role thrust upon him, who’s since managed to win over any detractors and use his starpower for good.
Hyperbolic predictions about his career: I’m sorry, but this press release from Dirt.com proclaiming Sam to be the Biggest Blowout Star of 2013 seems a bit like counting one’s chickens before they’re hatched. Just get a load of this quote!
“Sam is a dream. And when he takes his shirt off, he will make people faint. He is the biggest big thing to happen to Hollywood in 20 years.”
The poor boy is already under enough pressure! Jeez. Seeing as this praise comes a) from a little-known site and b) right after Sam’s casting but before we’ve seen anything of him as Finnick, you get the impression that Dirt.com would’ve handed out the title to whoever got cast regardless of his personality or talent.
The ability to promote a worthwhile cause: J. Hutch has parlayed his Hunger Games fame into promoting the LGBT ally organization Straight But Not Narrow, and he regularly competes in celebrity basketball and kickball games for various charities. According to MyEveryzine, in 2011 Sam participated in Good Morning America‘s Warm Coats, Warm Hearts coat drive; whether he does that again this winter or takes on a different cause, this is his key time to get the word out about whatever he’s passionate about.
Fans obsessing over his past projects: Until Lionsgate gives us footage of Finnick — and if they’re smart, it’ll be one of the first clips released — people are scouring YouTube for videos of Sam in other movies. We want to see what he looks like shirtless, how he handles an American accent, and his ratio of funny versus dramatic. I wouldn’t be surprised if people even started renting/buying from iTunes his little-known TV series The Pillars of the Earth or White Heat.
“Hipster” possessiveness: This is related to the above point—already you’re seeing a bunch of Tumblr users claim that they were genuinely fans of Sam before he got cast, despite the fact that he clearly was still a relative unknown. Or, as one Tumblr person puts it, “I liked Sam Claflin before he was Finnick YOU ARE NOT A REAL FAN.” Sigh. Fandom, why can’t we let a week pass before judging each other?
Gossip about his love life: Sam is happily dating British actress Laura Haddock (The Inbetweeners, Captain America), even mentioning last week how excited he was to be reunited with her in London. But since he comes on hot and heavy with Katniss Everdeen early in Catching Fire, and especially once they cast Annie Cresta, I wouldn’t be surprised to see tabloids try and sell stories about him hooking up with Jennifer Lawrence or other female co-stars. Unfortunately, there are downsides to starring in the latest YA movie franchise.
Fan manips: Sam better be ready to Google Image himself and instead of coming up with boring movie stills, to instead find himself the subject of various dramatic and funny .gifs, not to mention some very skilled Photoshop. Until we see the first images of him as Finnick, which won’t come to us for many months (sob), fans have taken it upon themselves to draw from Sam’s past movie roles and interviews and create Finnick from there. The two images in this post are just such examples; I don’t know where the first photo is from, but the one at right is Sam looking his most Finnick-y in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. Since Finnick’s beloved Annie Cresta hasn’t been cast yet, fans are pulling various dark-haired, vaguely crazy-looking girls for manips… and yeah, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see some mash-ups of him and Josh Hutcherson for the infamous mouth-to-mouth scene. How have you been getting your Sam fix?