Academy Award winner Viola Davis is joining the cast of The Hunger Games prequel as the film's main villain. The Suicide Squad actress will portray Head Gamemaker Volumnia Gaul in The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, the adaptation of Suzanne Collins' #1 New York Times bestseller. Joining Davis in the main cast are Tom Blyth, who will play the young Coriolanus Snow, and Rachel Zegler, as tribute Lucy Gray Baird. Lionsgate Motion Picture Group President Nathan Kahane made the announcement as Lionsgate takes fans worldwide back to The Hunger Games franchise that earned over $3 billion globally.
"The Hunger Games films have always been elevated by their exceptional casting, and we are thrilled to be continuing that tradition with Viola Davis as Volumnia Gaul," Kahane said in a statement. "Her formidable and powerful presence will add layers of complexity and menace to this story."
The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes director Francis Lawrence added, "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 experiences 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," producer Nina Jacobson said. "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 with Viola's extraordinary range and presence to play this pivotal role."
Years before he would become the tyrannical President of Panem, 18-year-old Coriolanus Snow is the last hope for his fading lineage, a once-proud family that has fallen from grace in a post-war Capitol. With the 10th annual Hunger Games fast approaching, the young Snow is alarmed when he is assigned to mentor Lucy Gray Baird, the girl tribute from impoverished District 12. But, after Lucy Gray commands all of Panem's attention by defiantly singing during the reaping ceremony, Snow thinks he might be able to turn the odds in their favor. Uniting their instincts for showmanship and newfound political savvy, Snow and Lucy's race against time to survive will ultimately reveal who is a songbird, and who is a snake.
Francis Lawrence previously directed The Hunger Games films Catching Fire, Mockingjay Part One, and Mockingjay Part Two. The new film comes from franchise producer Nina Jacobson and her producing partner Brad Simpson, along with Francis Lawrence. Suzanne Collins and Tim Palen will serve as executive producers.
The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes arrives in theaters on November 17, 2023.
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