‘The Hunger Games’ Films Changed This Detail About Peeta to Keep a PG-13 Rating

Fans of The Hunger Games are well aware that the movies were adapted from three books written by Suzanne Collins. Avid readers know that quite a few scenes and details get cut when a film adapts from a book. Often it is for the sake of time. Sometimes certain details aren’t essential to the storyline. Other times they are just far too violent. The Hunger Games is no exception. A pretty significant detail about Peeta Mellark, played by Josh Hutcherson, ended up getting left out of the movies to keep their PG-13 rating.

Josh Hutcherson with a stoic expression at the premiere of 'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1.'
Josh Hutcherson who played Peeta Mellark | Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Who is Peeta Mellark in ‘The Hunger Games’?

Peeta is the male tribute from District 12 who competes in the 74th Hunger Games. Before his reaping, Peeta worked in his family’s bakery. He is also a talented painter, a skill he learned from decorating cakes.

Peeta is a kind and likable character, putting him at odds with Katniss’ abrasive and aggressive personality. The pair won the 74th Hunger Games together after almost poisoning themselves so that the Games would not have a victor. The Capitol stops Peeta and Katniss from swallowing deadly nightlock. However, Peeta does not come out of the Games unscathed.

The films changed Peeta’s injury from the books

At the end of The Hunger Games novel, Katniss and Peeta are airlifted out of the arena after being declared the winners of the 74th Hunger Games. It is not until the very end of the book, in an interview with Caesar Flickerman, that Katniss discovers Peeta’s leg had to be amputated.

In the movie, Katniss finds Peeta seriously injured with a gash in his leg from Cato. However, she manages to retrieve medicine for him from the Cornucopia to save his life and heal his leg. In the books, however, Peeta is not so lucky. Cato cuts him, and the medicine Katniss retrieves saves him from dying of blood poisoning. However, mutts gash his leg open again while he and Katniss flee onto the Cornucopia. The Capitol is ultimately unable to save his leg after the Games. They amputate it below the knee, and Peeta walks with a prosthetic leg for the rest of the series.

‘The Hunger Games’ makeup artist discusses toning down the violence

Despite being Young Adult novels, The Hunger Games books are notably dark and violent. That violence gets even more disturbing when viewing it on the big screen. The films cut some of the more violent elements from the books to keep a PG-13 rating.

Makeup artist Ve Neill worked on the set of The Hunger Games. In an interview posted on The Fandom, she admits losing Peeta’s leg was never considered for the film.

“No, we never talked about losing the leg,” she said. “We did do part of a huge wound but we wound up not seeing a lot of it which was fine because I think it was too much. I think they showed just enough of everything to really get the point across.”

Neill was aware of just how much violence the film could get away with while maintaining a PG-13 rating. The loss of Peeta’s leg would have gone just a little too far.

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