Following the recent casting of West Side Story actor Josh Andrés Rivera, Lionsgate is continuing to expand the cast of The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, with the addition of five new cast members. According to Deadline, Nick Benson, Laurel Marsden, Lilly Cooper, Luna Steeples, and Hiroki Berrecloth have been tapped to star opposite Rachel Zegler and Tom Blyth in the forthcoming The Hunger Games prequel.
Benson, Steeples, and Berrecloth will be playing the respective characters of Jessup, Dill, and Treech, who are all set as tributes for District 12, 11, and 7. Meanwhile, Marsden will play Mayfair Lipp, who places Lucy Gray Baird’s name into contention for the tenth Hunger Games, with Cooper as Arachne Crane, the mentor to a tribute from District 10.
Based on the 2020 prequel novel by Suzanne Collins, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is set 64 years before the events of the Hunger Games trilogy, starting on the morning of the reaping of the Tenth Hunger Games, where an 18-year-old Coriolanus Snow is assigned as the mentor for the tribute girl from the impoverished District 12.
“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,” reads the synopsis. “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.”
Written by Michael Lesslie and based on a draft by Collins and Michael Arndt, the film will be helmed by Hunger Games films director Francis Lawrence. It will be shepherded by franchise producer Nina Jacobson and her producing partner Brad Simpson, along with Francis Lawrence. Suzanne Collins, Tim Palen, and Jim Miller will serve as executive producers. Meredith Wieck and Scott O’Brien are overseeing on behalf of the studio.
The prequel is currently scheduled for a November 17, 2023 theatrical release.