jeffrey wright hunger games

Actor Jeffrey Wright attends the “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” mall tour at Cherry Hill Mall on November 3, 2013 in Cherry Hill, New Jersey

*Despite all of the clamor surrounding the first “Hunger Games” film and book series, Jeffrey Wright said he had no idea of its popularity when he joined the cast for the sequel…just like a certain co-star in the film with the last name Kravitz.

“Like Lenny, I was maybe in a jungle in West Africa somewhere, or in Sierra Leone, so I missed out on a lot of the fanfare around the first one,” admitted Wright at a recent press conference for “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” opening Friday.

The 47-year-old DC native plays Beetee, a former winner of the Hunger Games with a talent for using electronic equipment. He assists Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) through the competition against a host of past victors.

Jeffrey Wright as Beetee in The Hunger Games Catching Fire

Jeffrey Wright as Beetee in The Hunger Games Catching Fire

“One of the things aside from the thematics of the storytelling that attracted me to this was that there had already been this extraordinary work done by many of the folks who are assembled here,” said Wright, seated alongside his co-stars. “So I had an opportunity then to kind of piggyback on their efforts.”

When he finally got hip to the underlying themes of class and power present in the Hunger Games stories, and the strength of main character Katniss, Wright says he was impressed.

Listen below.

“The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” opens Friday, Nov 22. Watch the trailer below.