Lionsgate's highly-anticipated adaptation The Hunger Games is currently in production in North Carolina, working towards a March 23, 2012 release date. Earlier this month, we reported that Contagion director Steven Soderbergh joined the production as a second unit director, a move which baffled many in Hollywood. The director is currently making the press rounds for Contagion and he set the record straight about why he joined The Hunger Games crew. Here's what he had to say below.

"I show up in North Carolina, a crewmember Tweets, 'Steven Soderbergh's here.' And immediately the f*cking firestorm starts. 'Why is he here? What's going on? Is the movie in trouble? Is he directing footage from the second one?' All of this crazy-ass speculation. People just spinning off.

The story is really simple. Back in April, [director] Gary [Ross] -- who is a close friend of mine I've exchanged creative favors with non-stop over the last 15 years -- when he got the boards for the shoot in April called me and said, 'Hey, first week of August, I got these two days of second unit. Is there any way you can come down and help me out? Because I'd rather have you do it than hire somebody who I don't know.' I said, 'Actually, that works out.' We'll just be finishing Contagion and prepping Magic Mike and, yeah, it could be fun.

Cut to two months later, and I show up to do this thing. Of course the whole design of it and what's fun about it, for me, is my job is to come in and duplicate exactly what Gary and Tom Stern, the cinematographer, are doing. To mimic as closely as I can to their aesthetic. And that's what I attempted to do. But if I've done my job properly, I hope I did, by design, you won't be able to tell what I did. Because it's supposed to cut seamlessly into what they're doing. That's the whole point. That's why he asked me to come down, because he knew that I would be rigorous about matching what they were doing.

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You know, he showed me stuff on either side of the area in which I was going to be shooting stuff and we talked at length. And I thought, OK, I see what you guys are doing. I know what the tool kit is. I know what the rules are. And it's fun in a way. I found it much more nerve-wracking than when you're shooting for yourself. Because I was constantly thinking, 'Oh, I hope that he likes this. I hope he likes that.'"

We'll have to see how seamless Steven Soderbergh's work in The Hunger Games really is, when the adaptation hits theaters on March 23, 2012.