San Diego’s Comic-Con International—the annual showcase bringing together comic creators, sci-fi authors, film directors, celebs and fans—is right around the corner.
In less than a week, eager fans will line up to preview Hollywood heavy hitters (like “Godzilla” and “Thor: The Dark World”) and attend the convention’s highly anticipated panels. “The Hungers Games: Catching Fire” is sure to be a huge draw this year, debuting a brand-new trailer for the sequel to the 2011 book-turned-blockbuster.
As we look forward to the second installment in the action-packed trilogy, we take a look back at the first film, which holds a special place in our hearts thanks to one of Target’s own team members. Let us introduce you to Eric Hennig, Target’s resident movie star.
Eric, who has been part of the Target family for more than three years at his St. Louis store, had his acting break in last year’s “The Hunger Games” as a game center tech (the people who virtually orchestrate everything that happens in the Games).
Since his debut, Eric has moved across the country to San Diego and has amassed quite the social following—as we’re writing this, he has more than 29,000 Twitter followers! Below, we chat with Target’s celeb about what it was like being on set, signing autographs at work and his upcoming projects.
Were you a big fan of “The Hunger Games” books before you were cast in the film? When I first heard about the film, I hadn’t read any of the books. Before going out on my first shoot, I ran out to Target and got the books to start reading—I couldn’t put them down!
What were your expectations going into production? It was a lot of fun, but I didn’t have any expectations regarding how huge the movie was going to be. The security on set was really tight and strict about what you could say and do so that made me realize it would be something big.
What was it like on the set? The whole movie was filmed in about six months with two film crews working back-to-back. We were in one area filming, and across the street they were filming other scenes. The cast spent a lot of time together so we became close, and a lot of us still keep in touch. One day, after we had been on set all day, I stopped at a gas station on my way back to the hotel. Everyone was giving me weird looks, and I didn’t know why. It wasn’t until I got back to my room that I realized I still had my hair and makeup done from the movie! I wore really weird makeup, so it was hysterical.
We hear you’ve signed a few autographs while working at Target—was that surreal? Yes! I feel like I lead a double lifestyle—in reality, I’m a really low-key person, but when I’m on set, it’s different. I didn’t really talk about my role in the movie while I was working at Target, but it came out and everybody started asking me about it! Everyone was so supportive.
Were you involved in any of the hype that ensued after the movie was released? I had a really small part in the film, but I’ve still received fan mail from all over the world–so many great people were sending me letters. One of the coolest parts was partaking in “The Hunger Games” convention in Chicago, where we met with fans, signed autographs and did Q&A’s.
What was your favorite part of the first movie? When Prim’s name is drawn and Katniss volunteers in her place—it’s emotional to watch. I think anyone would hope they could do the same thing if they were ever in that situation.
How has your Target team helped you during this experience? One of the hardest parts about moving to San Diego was leaving my store in St. Louis. I worked there for almost three years, and about five months in, I got my first acting gig. The entire team was so supportive! My Store Team Leader told me from day one that she knew how passionate I was about Target and my acting career, and she didn’t want me to have to worry about picking one or the other. I am so thankful for my store’s support because without them, I wouldn’t have been able to do any of this.
What’s next for you? I’m going to be at the San Diego Comic-Con this year. I went last year and met a ton of people. It was so much fun, and I’m very excited to go back! Also, a short film I just did, “The Homeless Network,” was accepted into the St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase. Then, I have another project, a film in the fall called “DRAGWORMS” about zombies in Texas. More sci-fi for me!