First Look at The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes as Viola Davis Joins Cast

Lionsgate has carefully put together one hell of a cast for their upcoming Hunger Games prequel, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, with Oscar winner Viola Davis cast as Head Gamemaker Volumnia Gual.

Again, this is for a prequel to a franchise that was alright and helped launch Jennifer Lawrence into stardom. Still, this ensemble cast is mentally good as Davis joins Peter Dinklage, Jason Schwartzman, Euphoria‘s Hunter Schafer and led by Rachel Zegler (West Side Story) and up-comer Tom Blyth.

Francis Lawrence is returning to the dystopian YA franchise, having previously helmed multiple movies that has currently grossed over $3 billion worldwide. Michael Lesslie (Macbeth) worked on the most recent screenplay picking up from novelist Suzanne Collins (who wrote the books) and Catching Fire screenwriter and Oscar winner Michael Arndt.

The film’s plot focuses on an 18-year-old Coriolanus Snow (Blyth) – decades before he would become the tyrannical President of Panem – who is seen as the last hope of his family’s fading lineage, once a proud family but fell from grace in Capitol after the war.

As the 10th annual Hunger Games is on the horizon, Snow is alarmed that he has to mentor Lucy Grey Baird (Zegler), the girl tribute from the impoverished District 12. However, when she garners all of the Panem’s attention when defiantly singing during the reaping ceremony, Snow begins to believe by bringing together their showmanship and newfound political savvy, he could turn the odds in their favour.

With Snow and Lucy in a race to survive, it’ll reveal who is the songbird and who is the snake.

Zegler went onto Twitter to share the first official image from the film, exclusively revealed by Vanity Fair, with the addition of red flags signalling the relationship we’ll be witnessing.

Lawrence said about the casting and villainous nature of the character, “Dr. Gaul is as cruel as she is creative and as fearsome as she is formidable.

“Snow’s savvy as a political operator develops in no small part due to his experience with her as the games’ most commanding figure.”

“From the beginning, Viola has been our dream for Dr. Gaul because of the finely layered intelligence and emotion she brings to every role,” added franchise producer Nina Jacobson. “A brilliant and eccentric strategist, Gaul is instrumental in shaping a young Coriolanus Snow into the man he will become.

“We are incredibly fortunate to have an actor of Viola’s extraordinary range and presence to play this pivotal role,” Jacobson stated.

Davis is an incredible actress, and anything she’s in makes the role and film much better. I can’t wait to see her kill it in The Woman King, and I won’t be surprised if her performance in the historical epic leads to another Oscar nomination.

Image via Sony Pictures

Speaking of Vanity Fair, more details were revealed about the film as it’ll focus on Snow getting caught between the “charming” Baird and villainous Dr. Gaul, stating: “He is a shapeshifter who craves control, but is drawn to a woman who threatens everything he thought he wanted.”

Lawrence opened up about Zegler’s character, saying: “This is not with judgement, but Lucy Gray is the anti-Katniss. She’s a musician, she’s a performer, she’s a charmer… Now has never met a girl like this before.”

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snake is released on November 17, 2023.

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