Dear Sam Claflin Detractors: Remember When Everyone Hated Josh Hutcherson As Peeta?

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Josh Hutcherson cast Peeta reactions Sam Claflin Finnick OdairYesterday's huge Catching Fire casting news of Sam Claflin taking the part of Finnick Odair seemed to either be welcomed or rejected by the Hunger Games fandom. For the detractors, it seems to be a mix of wanting someone else to get the role, or simply being unable to envision Sam as Finnick. Honestly, it sounds exactly like when Josh Hutcherson was cast a year or so ago.

Once the movie came out in March, Josh was the one who most blew us away with his sensitivity, realism, and just a dash of humor to keep things light in the Arena. Any doubts I might've had were erased. But let's time travel back and just look at these comments from the official EW announcement in April 2011:

Josh Hutcherson cast Peeta reactions Sam Claflin Finnick Odair

That same disgusted/horrified knee-jerk reaction popped up on fansites and all over the web. I've had trouble tracking down specific editorials decrying Josh, probably because a lot of bloggers figured they'd suspend total judgment until The Hunger Games actually came out. But suffice to say, Josh did not have a lot of supporters in the early days despite being fantastic in The Kids Are All Right the prior summer. Mostly it was his looks: The brunette just didn't match the blonde hero we'd all envisioned, especially in comparison to other candidates like Hunter Parrish.

But then it all came together! Director Gary Ross reportedly said of Josh's audition,

“I knew when Josh walked through the door that this was the right guy. It was like the movie came to life.”

I say “reportedly” because I've only found it on one Tumblr. Then there's Josh himself, who humbly thanked the fans for helping him win a role he had genuinely fought for:

“They mean the world to me. Without the fans, I wouldn’t have a job. When people hire you for a movie, they want to hire you because you’re going to bring an audience to their film. If I didn’t have people out there who enjoyed watching me as an actor, I wouldn’t get hired. Nobody would want to see the movie!”

And now I can't find many people who still think Josh has done a bad job as Peeta! When the first trailer came out last year, the “Josh is Peeta” tag appeared on Tumblr, with users admitting that they'd been wrong. (They call themselves DANAs, which I assume is some nickname pertaining to not thinking he was right for the part.)

All it takes is time to accept the casting, and an open mind to see what the actor brings to the project. Sure, in another universe maybe your dream actor's schedule could have opened up and he would have brought a different take to Finnick. But shouldn't we trust the producers' track record in bringing on Jennifer Lawrence, Lenny Kravitz, and other hotly contested castings?

Photo: Entertainment Weekly