updated 08/23/2012 AT 9:00 AM ET
•originally published 08/23/2012 AT 9:40 AM ET
The Hunger Games has found its Finnick Odair.
Sam Claflin, one of Hollywood’s up-and-coming stars, has landed the coveted role in Catching Fire, the second Hunger Games movie, which begins shooting this fall for a late 2013 release.
Like Odair, Claflin, 26 – last seen in Snow White and the Huntsman – is a prodigy, seemingly skilled at anything and everything he tries.
Learn a little more about the young British actor, who actually never wanted to be an actor at all:
1. He originally dreamed of being a pro soccer player.
Claflin, who hails from Norwich in the east of England, always wanted to play professional soccer for Norwich City when he grew up. “I played football every day of the week [as a kid],” he told the Sun newspaper last year. “Any evening I would be playing on our local road with my brothers and friends. It was 24/7 football back then.” Claflin trained with the club’s youth team, but at 16 he broke his ankle, and his soccer dreams were over. By that time, though, he had caught the acting bug. “It was very daunting, that big career change,” he said. “But luckily it worked out.”
2. He’s one of Hollywood’s fastest rising young stars.
Following roles in the TV series The Pillars of the Earth and Any Human Heart, Claflin got his big break in 2011, playing Philip Swift in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. He followed that up with the plum role of William in Snow White and the Huntsman, opposite Kristen Stewart. “I’m truly sort of flabbergasted,” he told MTV at the time about working with the Twilight star.
3. With his humble background, he’s a bit starstruck by show business.
“My mum is a classroom assistant at the high school I went to and Dad is an accountant and a finance manager for a charity radio station,” he told the Sun. “I can’t quite fathom what is going on with my life at the moment. For me to be able to play across from some of the great names is unbelievable. It is so bizarre. I used to play with Lego, and now I am a Pirates of the Caribbean Lego figurine.”
4. He has a superstar for a mentor.
Starring in the Pirates movie brought another benefit for Claflin: He got some guidance from one of Hollywood’s biggest names. “Johnny Depp gave me the best advice,” he told the L.A. Times Magazine. “He said, ‘Stay grounded. Remember where you came from.’ ”
5. Sorry, folks, he’s off the market.
Claflin would be one of Hollywood’s most eligible young bachelors if he weren’t already dating British actress Laura Haddock, 26. “Back in London and reunited with @laurajhaddock,” he wrote on Twitter last week. “Happy happy happy.”