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UNSUNG HERO OF THE YEAR

LYNN COHEN

TRIBUTE OF THE YEAR

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You might know her as Magda from Sex And The City or Judge Elizabeth Mizener from Law & Order, but this year she was most definitely Mags from The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. The oldest of the previous victors, she hailed from the same district as Sam Claflin's Finnick Odair and spent a lot of time clinging to the buff warrior as he ran around the arena. "He carried me up and down mountains forever," she remembered when Empire phoned her in New York. Though Mags barely made a sound, she provided one of the most heartbreaking moments in the film and earned herself a place on our Unsung Heroes list of 2013.

Empire Unsung Hero Of The Year: Lynn Cohen
Lynn Cohen (left) with Sam Claflin

What was it like working with your stunt double, 'Mini Mags'?
Mini Mags! They used her when they were running through the woods, but I did 95 per cent of it - the rest, I mean. But there's one place where there's an overshot and you just see white hair, that's her. She's very, very sweet. She was about 4'10" and she'd never played anything but little boys. It was so funny to see her walk around, this little tiny creature with this big white wig on.

With all the time you spent with Sam Claflin giving you a piggy back, are you now best friends?
He's charming and handsome. He carried me up and down mountains forever! For four months, up and down mountains, and some of them were slippery and I'd say, "Sam, we can't do this." And he'd say, "Don't worry, I will never drop you." It was a joy.

Did it ever feel like the end of Lord Of The Rings?
It felt like the end of something! But everybody was so terrific and they laughed at all my jokes, they knew to do that. They weren't at all respectful, saying things like, "Don't give me that old lady shit."

What was the audition like?
With The Hunger Games, it was my granddaughter who was my impetus to do the film.
A bit unusual! How crazy that I couldn't audition with lines, right? Because there were no lines, of course. I'd never met (director) Francis Lawrence before, but when I saw him on Skype he had such a sweet, intelligent face. I think that's the first thing I said, "You have such a good face." He said, "How strong are you? How are you physically?" I said, "Fine, I go to classes and I work out." Then he said, "What attracts you to this role?" I said, "This is female-driven movie and the strength is with the women. I love this woman in particular because she survived."

You've been in Sex And The City and now The Hunger Games. How do the different groups of fans treat you?
The affection for both Magda and Mags is overwhelming in some ways. I mean, in the best kind of way. First of all, Sex And The City was so interesting to me because there were very sexy things in it. Ninety year old women would come up to me and say, "You know, I never mention the word 'sex' in my house, ever. But now, when Sex And The City is on, you can call me on the telephone and I won't answer." Again, it's the power of women and the clinging together for strength. I love that.

With The Hunger Games, it was my granddaughter who was my impetus to do the film. A long, long time ago, like a year before I got the part, a wonderful friend called me and said, "I just read this book called Catching Fire and you've got to do Mags." I said, "Oh, okay, right, sure." I didn't really think much about it. Then we fast forward and we're driving through Tuscany with my granddaughter, who is 15 years old, and she's reading the last book and she's crying and then she puts it down. She says, "Hey grandma, you should do Mags!" I said, "Oh honey, I've heard that before, I'm sure they are in production already." And then she did - and this is in Tuscany - a search on her phone, and said no-one had been cast. I don't know how she found that out, but then I called my agent. It was a joy.

Did she get to go to the premiere with you?
She walked the red carpet with me in LA, actually. She was turning 16 the following Saturday and was far more adult than I was. "Grandma, your hair doesn't look good," she said. "Do this, do that!". I think we were on the red carpet for an hour and a half, and of course, they always give you a handler but I had a second handler - my granddaughter. She would say, "Now you have time to sign four posters but afterwards we have to move on."

Did you keep any mementos from the set?
Well, I fell in love with a pair of jeweled green earrings and they sent them to me after the shot. (Costume designer) Trish Summerville was amazing. Trish was there for my fitting and my husband was with me and she said, "I've never had a husband in the fitting room before, but this is very nice." So I looked at the line of clothing and I didn't see anything that looked old lady-like because they were all wetsuits and I said, "Trish, which is mine?" And she said, "Well, that's yours." I said, "It's a wetsuit." And I said, "Will I have to wear a wetsuit?" She said, "Yes, of course!" You reach a certain age and think you've escaped wearing a wetsuit in a film... but no.

MORE UNSUNG HEROES OF THE YEAR


KATIE SACKOFF

WARRIOR OF THE YEAR

LYNN COHEN

TRIBUTE OF THE YEAR

LAVELL CRAWFORD

BODYGUARD OF THE YEAR

MARTIN COOGAN

JINGLER OF THE YEAR

MAX MARTINI

BADASS OF THE YEAR

MICHAEL SLOVIS

EYES OF THE YEAR

OF MONSTERS AND MEN

SOUNDTRACK STARS OF THE YEAR

TIM KEY

SIDEKICK OF THE YEAR

TIM WEBBER

MAGICIAN OF THE YEAR

THOMAS LAW & ZACHARY BAILESS

YOUNG PEGG AND FROST OF THE YEAR

Interview by Ali Plumb

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