The Canadian Press, Chris Young, Associated Press
Liam Hemsworth, who portrays Gale Hawthorne, waves to fans as he arrives on the red carpet for the premier the film "The Hunger Games" on Monday March 19, 2012 in Toronto.
LOS ANGELES — "The Hunger Games" may be about kids who are forced to fight to the death on live TV, but one of its stars, Liam Hemsworth, said the violence in the film isn't for nothing.
"None of it is glorified and it's not about that," said the 22-year-old Australian.
"It's about kids in a horrible situation and there's this girl who overcomes it and gives hope to everyone and they come together to do something about it," he said.
In the PG-13 movie, which opens Friday, Hemsworth plays Gale Hawthorne, the best friend of Katniss Everdeen, portrayed by Jennifer Lawrence. His role in the first "Hunger Games" story is a small one but is more prevalent in the two stories that follow. (They're based on a best-selling book trilogy by Suzanne Collins.)
Hemsworth doesn't have any fight scenes in the first film but did have to lose "quite a bit of weight" to play a teen living in a poor area who hunts to help feed his family.
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He recalled one memorable day off from dieting during filming in North Carolina when he and costar Josh Hutcherson visited a certain fast food chain.
"Josh and I went to Kentucky — he's from Kentucky," Hemsworth said. "We decided to get White Castle, which I'd never had before, and then we played basketball after eating the White Castle and we threw up a little bit so that was interesting."
"The Hunger Games" also stars Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz and Donald Sutherland.
Associated Press writer Nicole Evatt contributed to this report.