"Hunger Games" cast greets screaming tweens, parents

Let's hear it for uncle-of-the-year Jim Heika. His nieces Katie and Victoria are avid "Hunger Games" fans but had after-school activities on Tuesday. So Uncle Jim stood in line at the cast appearance held outside Lenox Square to try to wrangle some autographs. Similarly, supermom Meg Thomson was there with daughters Rebecca and Katherine. The trio broke up to cover the most ground, with Thomson stationed at the end of the red carpet, while the girls joined the mosh pit in front of the stage where the actors sat for a question and answer session. Sylvia Worsenop was there with son David and twin daughters Helen and Rachel. Erica Demar was there with daughter Alexis.

While the 1,000-plus fans shrieking for cast members Liam Hemsworth, Leven Rambin, Dayo Okeniyi, Amandla Stenberg and Jack Quaid were teens and tweens, it's clear that for many, "The Hunger Games" is a family affair.

"They're child-appropriate but still really exciting," Worsenop said of author Suzanne Collins' series, upon which the movie is based.

Tuesday's event promoting the movie, which comes out March 23, featured trivia, giveaways and lots of screaming, mostly for the dreamy Hemsworth.

“You guys are the nicest people I’ve ever met,” Hemsworth, who plays Gale, deadpanned as the tent shook with high-octave approval.

“Take me to the prom!” one girl yelled.

He waited a beat. “OK.”

More screams.

“I love you!” someone else yelled.

“I love you,” Hemsworth replied. “I love you all. I love you.”

We wondered if Macy’s nearby windows would start to shatter. These girls had to be part bat.

“The Hunger Games” takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where young people are forced by an iron-fisted government to fight to the finish.

“The great thing about this movie is it’s a true human story,” Okeniyi told us during a red-carpet interview. “You go on this journey.”

We asked if the fervent fan base of young readers who have practically memorized the books created pressure when it came time to portray his character, Thresh.

“I read everything -– I read the fan blogs,” Okeniyi said. “This is a character who meant so much to so many people. To screw that up would suck.”

Quaid, who portrays Marvel, talked to us about the broader message of “The Hunger Games.”

“It really teaches kids to not take anything for granted,” he said. “You respect everything you have.”

After about 20 minutes of red-carpet interviews, the fans were tired of waiting. “GET ON STAGE! GET ON STAGE!” they demanded. The actors got on stage.

Q100’s Jenn Hobby moderated a Q&A, during which someone asked Amandla how she prepared for her audition.

“I was dressed up like Rue,” she said, referring to her character. “There was mud all over my clothes. There were twigs in my hair. I was like, ‘I’m going to get this.’”

In response to a question asking what they'd do if they weren’t actors, she said she’d like to be an artist. Okeniyi said he went to school for graphic design, so that would be his Plan B. Quaid said he might try his hand at stand-up comedy. Hemsworth, who seemed to try throughout the appearance not to steal the show said, “I’m a big fan of clowns and magic. So maybe I’d be a magic clown.”

The crowd wasn't having it.

“Take off your shirt!” came a scream from the audience.

All too soon the actors had to pile into a caravan of SUVs to head to the airport, where another fan visit in another city – and no doubt more screams – awaited.

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.