Some characters are heaven-sent for actors desiring the most challenging role they can find. In some cases, it might push that actor over the edge (the mystery of Heath Ledger and his Joker still goes on), or not be taken at all because the culmination of the films they're already doing adds up to the challenge of one character named Johanna Mason.
No, there isn't any denying that Johanna , who shows up in the second "The Hunger Games" installment ("Catching Fire"), is one that's going to require an actress with hefty psychological training, as well as an insurance program. That's why the news of Mia Wasikowska being considered for the role of Johanna is a bit disconcerting when you realize the other challenging projects she has on the slate.
Wasikowska's upcoming Aussie movie "Tracks" (about Robyn Davidson, who survived in the Oz desert Outback) is enough of a physical challenge that most actresses wouldn't want to add another challenging performance in the same year. Then again, Wasikowska has the projecting face to show the contradictions of Johanna in her severe actions to survive the Hunger Games. However, the character is one that needs to be set aside as a major acting project for the entirety of a year.
Johanna requires a thorough assimilation of someone who's lost everything and has nothing to lose while still highly calculating her fate. In other words, it's one of the most dangerous types of characters to play, especially when bursts of violence have to take place to make her intentions manifest.
So far, we haven't seen Wasikowska do a movie where she has to do severe violence as an act of survival. The only exception is the short film version of "I Love Sarah Jane," in which the Aussie actress took a shovel to a soon-to-be zombie off-camera. You can also add her portrayal of Alice in "Alice in Wonderland," even if her beheading of the Jabberwocky was CGI all the way.
You just can't see Wasikowska taking the part based on her penchant for character arcs evolving through dialogue and situations rather than violence. She's also shunned the movie franchise genre before, once being rumored to play Lisbeth Salander in the American "Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" movies. The same applied to the rebooted "The Amazing Spider-Man" franchise, where she auditioned for the role of Gwen Stacey last year.
But Wasikowska also has a recent desire to play a villainess. Johanna is the type of villain she might be looking for -- not one painted all one color, in the fray to cause chaos because she can. It's a necessary evil that ultimately has good intentions behind it, if you know the outcome of the "Hunger Games" books.
Those particular traits make Johanna the most demanding major character at the movies outside of Lisbeth Salander, or any others soon to arrive that require graphic sex or violence. Leaving such an indelible impression with the character may be best suited to the second and most likely choice for Johanna: model Zoe Aggeliki. As ridiculous as it sounds to hire a virtual unknown for such a complicated character, the baggage could be worse with Wasikowska's established name.
Should Wasikowska take the role, it may have to be set aside as one of those singular, standout performances within the confines of a massive franchise. That's only because you can't imagine her returning for "Mockingjay," requiring someone lesser to take the part.
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