Francis Lawrence Reveals Hunger Games & Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes Casts' Connection

The Ballad of Songbird and Snakes director Francis Lawrence—who also directed three of the original four Hunger Games movies—recently reflected on how the two casts are similar.

By Hayley Santaflorentina Nov 01, 2023 12:00 PMTags
Watch: Rachel Zegler Stuns in New 'Hunger Games' EXCLUSIVE

The odds that you'll love this cast are ever in your favor.

With the release of The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes only a few short weeks away, fans of the original series are eagerly awaiting a return to the world of Panem.

And though the prequel brings new faces and new characters, there is something that connects the original stars of The Hunger Games with those taking up the fandom's mantle in the new film, including Tom Blyth as a young Coriolanus Snow, Rachel Zegler as new character Lucy Gray Baird and Hunter Schafer as Tigris. 

Director Francis Lawrence—who also helmed three of the original four movies—told E! News in an exclusive interview that he and producer Nina Jacobson wanted to approach casting in a similar way, "where you have this kind of small group of pretty fresh faces."

Though he acknowledged Rachel is well-known for her Golden Globe-nominated turn in 2021's West Side Story, "She's still a new face on the scene," said Francis. "Tom is a relatively new face, Josh [Andrés Rivera]. Even Hunter is relatively new. But then you mix it with more veteran, sort of legacy actors."

20 Secrets About The Hunger Games Revealed

So much as Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth had legendary costars in Donald Sutherland, Julianne Moore and Philip Seymour Hoffman, so too do the stars of Ballad have big screen regulars to add to their ranks: Viola Davis stars as Head Gamemaker Dr. Gaul, Jason Schwartzman as Lucretius "Lucky" Flickerman and Peter Dinklage as Casca Highbottom, Dean of the Capitol's Academy.

And for Francis, it's a winning combination. Of his new cast, he said, "It's just great to have that mix of sort of the fresh faces and the veteran legacy actors."

VCG (GettyImages) / Instagram (Rachel Zegler)

And while nobody ever really wins the games, the trilogy's cast did score lifelong friendships, with Francis noting they're still close eight years after the premiere of Mockingjay Part Two. "I love everybody from the other movies," the director added. "Still friends with most of them. And this group also bonded."

And on Nov. 17, fans can see that bond in action as the film's mix of newer and veteran actors tell the origin story of the future President Coriolanus Snow.

During his very first Hunger Games, 18-year-old Coriolanus is tasked to be mentor to District 12's tribute, Lucy Gray Baird. What follows is a haunting, easter-egg laden story of friendship, love and betrayal that shows not only how the Games became what they did, but also Snow himself, laying the foundation for his and Katniss' showdown 60 years later. 

To see more sneak peek photos of The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes before its premiere, keep reading. 

The Hunger Games: Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes Poster

Lionsgate released a first look at the dramatic dystopian movie based on Suzanne Collins' book.

Meet the Songbird

A first look at the nomadic singer Lucy Gray Baird, played by Rachel Zegler in Songbirds & Snakes.

Pure as Snow

Lucy Gray is assigned Capitol citizen Coriolanus Snow (Tom Blyth) as her mentor in the 10th annual Hunger Games.

Star-Crossed Lovers

Chemistry is catching fire between the young pair.

Doom in District 12

The nomadic singer appears in the rural district in the prequel film.

Meet Tigris

A first look at a young Tigris (Euphoria's Hunter Schafer) who lives on to see the 75th Hunger Games as she appears in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2. 

The Weather is Looking Lucky

Lucretius "Lucky" Flickerman (Jason Schwartzman) is an on-air weathercaster for the Capitol before he is tapped to act as host of the 10th Hunger Games. 


Sejanus Plinth (Josh Andrés Rivera) and Coriolanus strike up a friendship in the Capitol's Academy. 

Haunted by the Past

Casca Highbottom (Peter Dinklage) is Dean of the Academy and runs the first ever mentorship program for the Hunger Games—but a past connection to the Games may prove to be too much. 

The Mind Behind the Games

In addition to being an instructor at the Academy, Dr. Volumnia Gaul (Viola Davis) acts as the Head Gamemaker for the 10th Hunger Games and is known for her muttations. 

Let the Games Begin

The 10th Hunger Games might look different for seasoned fans, but they will prove to be the most important for the Capitol yet. 

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