‘The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes’: ‘Hunger Games’ Prequel Film Adds Rachel Zegler!!

Last month it was announced that The Hunger Games series would be getting a prequel film. Now, fans can get excited as the female lead in the film has been announced to be West Side Story breakout star Rachel Zegler. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, based on the prequel novel of the same name by Suzanne Collins, will take fans back to Panem about sixty-four years before the events of the original books and films.

The film will follow future Panem President Coriolanus Snow, portrayed in the original film series by Donald Sutherland, during the tenth Hunger Games. Zegler will be playing the role of Lucy Gray Baird, a tribute from District 12, who Snow is assigned to mentor through the game. The character is described as being a charismatic young girl who earns the attention and adoration of Panem through her singing voice. In the film, Zegler will be joining Billy the Kid star Tom Blyth, who was recently announced to be playing the young Coriolanus Snow.

Zegler first gained national attention when she beat out what is reported to be thousands of other actresses for the coveted role of Maria in Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story. The iconic musical was Zegler’s first professional acting role, and she has since been cast in the highly anticipated superhero film Shazam! Fury of the Gods, the Skydance animated movie Spellbound, and she is currently filming Disney’s Snow White, a live-action remake of the classic film where she is playing the titular Disney princess.

The film is written by Michael Lesslie, who previously wrote such films as the 2015 adaptation of Macbeth starring Michael Fassbender. Lesslie wrote the script off an earlier draft by Academy Award-winning screenwriter Michael Arndt and Collins’ novel. Francis Lawrence returns to direct the film, after directing the previous three installments in the franchise. About Zegler’s cast he had the following to say:

“Like everybody, I first saw Rachel Zegler in West Side Story, and like everybody, I knew I was watching a star who would command the screen for a generation. Lucy Gray is a perfect match for her as an actress: the character is bold, independent, and defiant, but also vulnerable, emotional, and loving. Rachel will make this character unforgettable.”

While announcing Zegler’s casting, the president of Lionsgate Motion Picture Group, Nathan Kahane, said:

“When you read Suzanne’s book, Lucy Gray’s emotional intelligence, physical agility, and fiercely powerful, determined singing voice shine through. Rachel embodies all of those skills – she is the perfect choice for our Lucy Gray.”

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is currently on schedule to hit theaters on November 17, 2023. Read the full synopsis for the film below:

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.


via Collider

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