When Sam Claflin signed up for the second installment of Hollywood’s current young adult phenomenon The Hunger Games, he wasn’t prepared for the kind of reaction he’d get. “A few teenage girls on Twitter threatened suicide because I was cast. It was all, ‘Who the hell is Sam Claflin? He’s fat, he’s ugly, I’m going to kill myself.’”
The Hunger Games is a big deal. The first book, published in 2006, spent 100 consecutive weeks on The New York Times Best Sellers list and the film version, starring Jennifer Lawrence, made $700m at the box office. Claflin joins the franchise for the sequel, Catching Fire, as Finnick Odair.
The Twitter maelstrom came about because the book describes his character as bronzed, buff and with “incredible” sea-green eyes, a challenging set of demands for any man to live up to.
To do so, he hit the gym twice daily, five days a week, and lived on protein shakes, chicken and asparagus. Judging by his LA tan and a minor struggle with some of the clothes on the Esquire shoot, it looks like Claflin has managed to fit the bill.
“It’s my footballer thighs,” says the 27-year-old. He was a promising player at Norwich City’s School of Excellence as a boy, but a long-term ankle injury led him to pursue his other interest, acting. After drama school, he got his break in 2011’s Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, alongside Johnny Depp: “He’s amazing, man. What a cool motherfucker.”
Next, he’s jostling for attention with fellow young British actors Douglas Booth and Max Irons in the film adaptation of the acclaimed play Posh, about a debauched, elitist Oxbridge undergraduate dining club, based on the infamous Bullingdon Club.
The two other significant developments in Claflin’s increasingly busy schedule have been marriage to his fellow actor Laura Haddock and the acquisition of a cockapoo called Rosie.
“It’s very far from being the most manly dog,” says Claflin, stating the obvious. “If, however, you are a single man, get a cockapoo and walk down the park; you’ll get plenty of attention.”
Attention may be something Claflin needs to get used to.
From the December issue of Esquire. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is out now