LOS ANGELES (AP) — Upon meeting six years ago, they were three little-known actors helping to launch a new franchise. Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth instantly clicked, bonding as friends even before making the first "Hunger Games" film.
"We went out there two or three weeks before we even started shooting and we were like kids," Lawrence said of hanging out with her co- stars when they first met in North Carolina, where the first "Hunger Games" was filmed.
"We would go to Wal-Mart," she said. "We bought slingshots. We played in creeks."
Their friendship has only grown as they've become global superstars.
With the saga's final film, "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2," opening Friday, the trio's professional relationship may be ending, but they say their personal one is permanent. The three actors talked about their friendship in a recent interview with The Associated Press. Their comments have been edited for brevity.
AP: How long was it before you realized you were friends, not just co-workers?
Lawrence: Our first phone call.
Hutcherson: Yep, before we met.
Lawrence (to Hemsworth): When did you and I meet? We met at the barbecue.
Hemsworth: We met at the barbecue, yeah.
Hutcherson: Which barbecue?
AP: How well do you know Atlanta after shooting there for so long?
Lawrence: I'm still shooting in Atlanta. I live in Atlanta.
Hutcherson: I really love Atlanta. It's got great restaurants. It's got really fun clubs to go to. It's nice weather. They've got good parks.
Lawrence: We had each other. We all lived in the same neighborhood. Now I'm in Atlanta. It was so sad because I was renting a house to do another movie out there, and it's my first movie without them in Atlanta. So my assistant was asking me about a house, and I said Just ask Josh and Liam where — oh, God. Now I'm in my same neighborhood without my boys.
AP: Is it common to form such close friendships with your co-stars?
Lawrence: Not really. Because you can meet people and they're fine co-stars, really great to work with, and that's all you hope for. You don't go into anything hoping you meet your two best friends.
Hutcherson: If you did, you'd be sadly disappointed.
Lawrence: So I don't have any complaints with anybody I've ever worked with before, but like a friendship is just a very different chemistry that we just all happen to really have.
Hemsworth: It just clicked. It just works.
Lawrence: There's never been any drama ever.
Hemsworth: We've been through some stuff, as the three of us.
Lawrence: Yes, we have. But no fights. I mean, Josh and I fight when we get grumpy. Arguments.
Hutcherson: We bicker, like old people.
AP: So this was really lucky, then, to work together for so long.
Hutcherson: And just to go through this whole experience with the two of them — that in itself is a bonding factor, and on top of that have it be a bonding factor with people who you really love, it's really great. And also to have each other to experience this with, because it's such a big change and it's pretty intense sometimes. Like we have moments — before we have a premiere or after the red carpet or whatever, in the back kitchen of the hotel — and we all three huddle around like a group hug, just (sigh). It's revitalizing.
AP: Do you hang out in real life?
Lawrence: Yeah, we do. If we're all in the same city, we definitely always hang out. We went to New York.
Hemsworth: Yeah, we all met in New York when you were there. We came and flew out.
Lawrence: That was sweet.
Hemsworth: We hadn't seen each other for a while. We had a fun little weekend. Whenever we can and it's possible to get a little time together, we'll make the effort.
Lawrence: If we're in LA, we go to Liam's place because it's in Malibu and it's wonderful. I almost came over to charge my phone one time.
Hemsworth: Yeah, absolutely. Anytime. I've got outlets.
Follow AP Entertainment Writer Sandy Cohen at www.twitter.com/APSandy . Her work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/sandy-cohen .