Ludwig was born in Vancouver to Sharlene Ludwig, a former actress, and Harald Horst Ludwig, a businessman and former co-chair of Lionsgate Entertainment. According to an interview, he was drawn to the acting profession because of his imagination and love of performing. He earned a degree in theatre at the University of Southern California where he was in the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity.
Ludwig began his career at age nine, and then received recognition as a teenager for starring in the films The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising and Race to Witch Mountain. He gained fame for starring as Cato in The Hunger Games. He won the award for Best Fight at the 2012 MTV Movie Awards for his role in The Hunger Games. He also won the award for Best Villain at the 2012 Teen Choice Awards for the same role.
He is an ambassador to the Bvlgari Brand, as well as an independent fashion consultant to the sport line RYU.
He was a competitive freestyle skier, and has participated in skydiving. He is a passionate musician, adrenaline junkie, and gifted spokesman. When he is not acting, he can be found writing for film and television, surfing, extreme skiing, skydiving, traveling the world, and working with a variety of philanthropic organizations. In February 2019, Ludwig came out with issues he experienced with depression, anxiety, alcoholism, and substance abuse starting at age of 14. In 2021 he married Lauren Dear.
- Ludwig's lucky number is 7 because he was born on May 7th, at 7 minutes to 7, and weighed 7 pounds 7 ounces.
- On the set of Race to Witch Mountain, Dwayne Johnson gave Ludwig one of his personal guitars for his 16th birthday.