Joe Corrigan/Getty Images
Karen Valby
August 05, 2011 AT 03:20 PM EDT

EW has confirmed reports that Steven Soderbergh will pitch in as second unit director on the set of The Hunger Games. “It’s true he’s shooting two days of second unit,” says director Gary Ross, who’s at the helm of the adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ dystopian best-seller. “He’s one of my best friends and we all help each other a little bit on these things.” Soderbergh was a producer of Ross’ 1998 film Pleasantville.

Meanwhile, production  on the North Carolina set has recently shifted from the ferocious arena scenes to the creepily garish world of the Capitol. “We’ve already done a lot of action-y stuff,” says Ross. “We’ve burned down a forest, we’ve had the fire sequence, we blew up this pyramid of stuff that went 150 feet up in the air, and we had suitcases flying over a quarter of a mile.” While Ross says the high-octane action has been a thrill, he remains most turned on by the story’s emotional core. “I think it’s the power of Jennifer’s acting that’s the most moving to me,” he says. “That’s the stuff that knocks me out.”

The Hunger Games will be in theaters on March 23, 2012.

Read more:

‘Hunger Games’ Central

‘Hunger Games’ photo gallery

Steven Soderbergh blames Matt Damon for retirement talk

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