Viola Davis is the latest big name to join The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, the upcoming Hunger Games prequel. Davis will play Volumnia Gaul, the head gamemaker and mastermind of the diabolical death match which sees teenagers battle each other in a vicious televised event.
Davis joins West Side Story breakout star Rachel Zegler, Tom Blyth, and Peter Dinklage in the film, which is based on Suzanne Collins‘ 2020 book of the same name, which is set decades before Katniss Everdeen’s adventures in The Hunger Games and its sequels.
This film focuses on Coriolanus Snow, who is chosen to mentor Lucy Gray, a female tribute from impoverished District 12 during the Hunger Games. The unassuming Lucy then 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.
Nathan Kahane, president of Lionsgate Motion Picture Group, said in a statement: “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. Her formidable and powerful presence will add layers of complexity and menace to this story.”
Francis Lawrence, who previously directed multiple films in the franchise, is returning for this installment. Michael Lesslie (Macbeth, Assassin’s Creed) is penning the screenplay while franchise veteran Nina Jacobson and her producing partner Brad Simpson will oversee the project. Jacobson added:
“From the beginning, Viola has been our dream for Dr. Gaul because of the finely layered intelligence and emotion she brings to every role. 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.”
Any film adding Davis to its cast gets a legendary actor who’s always at the top of her game. It’s a no-brainer decision for a big franchise like this. Davis was most recently seen playing Michelle Obama in Showtime anthology series The First Lady, while she also appeared in two episodes of HBO Max series Peacemaker, reprising her Suicide Squad role as Amanda Waller.
She’ll next be seen starring in Gina Prince-Bythewood‘s historical epic The Woman King, and will portray Waller again in DC superhero film Black Adam. Those films are due out in September and October, respectively. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is currently scheduled to hit cinemas worldwide on November 17, 2023.