Rachel Zegler To Star In ‘Hunger Games’ Prequel

West Side Story breakout star Rachel Zegler has been cast as the lead in the upcoming Hunger Games prequel, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. She’ll play Lucy Gray Baird in the adaptation of Suzanne Collins‘ 2020 book of the same name, which takes place decades before Katniss Everdeen’s adventures in The Hunger Games.

In this story, 18-year-old Coriolanus Snow is chosen to mentor Lucy Gray, the female tribute from the impoverished District 12, during the 10th Hunger Games, the barbaric televised event which randomly selects two teenagers from each district to fight to the death. The unassuming Lucy Gray sparks everyone’s attention by singing during the reaping ceremony.

With her talent and charm, Snow believes he may be able to turn the odds in their favor to win the games. The prequel novels revolve around Snow’s power-hungry ambition, as he eventually becomes the tyrannical leader of the dystopian country of Panem. Tom Blyth (The Gilded Age) has already been cast as young Snow.

Lionsgate are developing the film, and Hunger Games veteran Francis Lawrence is returning to direct. Michael Arndt, who wrote the franchise’s second installment Catching Fire, was intending to pen the script for this one, but has passed the duties onto Michael Lesslie (MacBeth) instead. Lionsgate Motion Picture Group president Nathan Kahane said in a statement:

“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.” Lawrence added:

“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.”

Zegler beat out thousands to star as Maria in Steven Spielberg‘s West Side Story remake, so it makes sense that she’d be the perfect choice for a role with a singing part. She’s also got Shazam! Fury Of The Gods lined up, as well as Disney’s upcoming live-action Snow White. This role should only help her on the road to becoming a true movie star.

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is currently scheduled to hit cinemas November 17, 2023.


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