“Hunger Games” actor stays busy filming in Georgia

In March 2012, the cast of the first “Hunger Games” movie headed to Atlanta to launch its publicity tour.

"I know it's crazy to say this but when we were on the plane to Atlanta, we were like, 'What if no one shows up?'" actor Dayo Okeniyi, who played Thresh, told us during an interview this week.

Their fears abated when the parking lot in front of Lenox Square filled with eagerly screaming fans.

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

Since then, he’s been on a journey of his own. Sorry if this is a spoiler, but we won’t be seeing Thresh in the sequel “Catching Fire,” which was filmed in metro Atlanta and comes out this fall. And he won’t be in “Mockingjay,” the next in the series, which films here later this year.

But Okeniyi has stayed busy on other locally produced projects.

“I’ve been filming in Atlanta so much, I should just move back,” he said. “My parents are there.”

He recently finished work on the remake of "Endless Love," which filmed at numerous area locations, including a private Buckhead home, Zoo Atlanta and the Atlanta Botanical Garden. Beginning Aug. 16, he'll be seen in "The Spectacular Now," an indie that filmed in Athens and was directed by Athens native James Ponsoldt.

In both movies, Okeniyi plays high school teens with complicated personalities.

“I feel like a lot of us are shaped by our high school experiences,” he said. “It’s a mind-molding time. It was getting back to that time where you felt invincible, without any borders. ‘Everything’s about me. I can do anything.’”

"Endless Love," about an intense teen romance, stars Alex Pettyfer and Gabriella Wilde in roles originally played by Martin Hewitt and Brooke Shields. "The Spectacular Now," starring Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley with Kyle Chandler and Jennifer Jason Leigh in supporting roles, is a frank coming-of-age story.

Okeniyi plays Marcus in "The Spectacular Now" and Mace in "Endless Love." Both guys are close friends of the main characters and are more complex than they seem at first.

“I like playing characters instead of caricatures,” he said. “I guess I’m old school. I love being able to play completely different roles, especially coming off ‘Hunger Games.’”

For both roles Okeniyi, 25, summoned his inner angst-filled teen.

“I’m an actor so I definitely relate to being insecure,” he said. “I guess I’m just a big kid.”