Welcome back to Panem! “The Hunger Games” franchise is officially revived with the release of “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes,” a prequel film set many years before the rise of Katniss Everdeen. Based on the Suzanne Collins novel of the same name, the prequel centers on a young Coriolanus Snow as his experience mentoring District 12 tribute Lucy Gray Baird in the 10th Hunger Games shapes him into the villain fans of the franchise know well.
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The original “Hunger Games” movies – “The Hunger Games” (2012), “Catching Fire” (2013), “Mockingjay – Part 1” (2014) and “Mockingjay – Part 2” (2015) – made global stars out of its cast, most notably Jennifer Lawrence. She was joined by the likes of Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz, Stanley Tucci and Donald Sutherland. Similar to that ensemble, the prequel cast includes a mix of heavyweight actors such as Viola Davis and Peter Dinklage, rising stars like Rachel Zegler and Hunter Schafer and newcomers set to break big like Tom Blyth and Josh Andrés Rivera.
With “The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” set to conquer the box office this holiday movie season, check out a rundown of the cast and the main characters below.
Tom Blyth as Coriolanus ‘Coryo’ Snow
“Hunger Games” fans know Coriolanus Snow as the viscous and diabolical president of Panem (played by Donald Sutherland in the original four movies), but in “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes,” he is a young man being slowly corrupted by government forces. A war has left his family in financial ruin, which makes the prospect of winning the 10th Hunger Games enticing. He becomes a mentor to Lucy Gray Baird and their relationship complicates his plan.
Snow in “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” is played by English actor Tom Blyth, best known until now for roles in films such as “Scott and Sid” (2018) and “Benediction”(2021). He also plays the title character in Epix’s Western series “Billy the Kid,” which is currently airing its second season.
“It’s very easy to kind of paint [Snow] as the baddie because he definitely is — I mean baddie in the bad way, not the good way — not the Instagram baddie, he’s a real baddie with a capital B,” Blyth told Variety at the film’s London premiere. “But I think for me, the exciting part is getting to answer those questions that I think we all had when we watched the original films, which is ‘How did he get like this?’ And maybe look at his humanity and dig into it a little bit.”
Rachel Zegler as Lucy Gray Baird
Lucy Gray Baird is the female tribute from District 12 in the 10th Hunger Games. She is a member of a traveling musician group known as the Covey, and her blossoming connection to mentor Coriolanus Snow complicates her time in the games. She is a singer who is the original writer of “The Hanging Tree” within the franchise’s universe.
“We channeled a bunch of people: Patsy Cline and Dolly Parton and Joan Baez, to name a few,” Zegler toldVariety at the film’s premiere about constructing her character. “That was really the voice that we were trying to find. But getting to sing live is my bread and butter, that’s what I’ve been doing my whole life and so it was really nice to get to bring that skill to my peers on set.”
Zegler is best known for her starring role as Maria in Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story,” which won her a Golden Globe for best actress in a motion picture musical or comedy. She had a supporting role earlier this year in Warner Bros. comic book tentpole “Shazam! Fury of the Gods,” and she’s starring in the title role of Disney’s 2025 live-action “Snow White” movie.
Josh Andrés Rivera as Sejanus Plinth
Sejanus Plinth is one of Snow’s closest friends in the Capitol. He becomes a mentor to a tribute from District 2 during the 10th Hunger Games. Sejanus himself is from District 2, and the disturbing events of the games and how the Capitol government treats the tributes slowly unravels his psyche over the course of the story.
Rivera is a relative newcomer, and “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” is sure to be his biggest breakout role yet. He has musical chops and toured with the company of “Hamilton” during the Tony winner’s first national tour. He starred with Zegler in Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story” in the role of Chino, and he had a supporting role in the Sundance premiere “Cat Person.” Following “Hunger Games,” Rivera has booked a buzzy role as Aaron Hernandez in Ryan Murphy’s upcoming “American Sports Story.”
Rivera revealed to Variety that he’s currently in the process of beefing up to transform himself into the Patriots football player, who was later convicted of murder. “I have a trainer, I’ve been really diligent on fitness and working on and getting my body right first and foremost,” he said. “There’s a lot of studying about the NFL that has to go into something like this. We have terrific script writers, we have terrific producers.”
Hunter Schafer as Tigris Snow
An older Tigris Snow was mostly cut out of the “Hunger Games” movies with Jennifer Lawrence, but her younger self is far more prominent in “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” prequel. She is Snow’s older cousin and his closest confidante. She advises him as he becomes a mentor in the 10th Hunger Games and has a more sympathetic outlook on the tributes than her cousin does. She will later become an ally of Katniss.
“I literally made my own costume to be a Capitol person when I was in middle school when I was a huge fan of the books,” Schafer told Variety about her love of the franchise. “So it’s really full circle, the universe is at work. Because we’re all adults now! And now all these new kids will get to experience it.”
Schafer is beloved for her breakout role as Jules Vaughn on HBO’s teen drama television “Euphoria,” which also served as Schafer’s acting debut. She has starred on the show for two seasons, and a third season is expected to film next year for a 2025 release.
Peter Dinklage as Casca ‘Cas’ Highbottom
“Game of Thrones” Emmy winner Peter Dinklage stars as Casca “Cas” Highbottom, the dean of the Academy attended by the likes of Snow and other Capitol youth who are mentoring tributes in the 10th Hunger Games. He is the creator of the mentorship program for the games, which ensures Capitol youth maintain the tyrannical mentality of keeping the districts suppressed and in order. Cas is also credited as the intellectual author of the Hunger Games.
Jason Schwartzman as Lucretius ‘Lucky’ Flickerman
Jason Schwartzman stars as Lucretius “Lucky” Flickerman, a presumed ancestor to Caesar Flickerman (played by Stanley Tucci in the original films). Similar to Caesar, Lucky is the flashy and motormouthed host of the Hunger Games who knows how to turn every interview into a viral media moment. Schwartzman told Variety that director Francis Lawrence gave him the freedom to come up with the bulk of Lucky’s interview and hosting dialogue. It wasn’t exactly improvisation, but Schwartzman had the freedom to change the script.
“Francis gave me such freedom to come up with all these parts and bits, so they were sort of improvised but we came up with a lot of them,” he said. “He said to have something ready for every moment so that we could cut to you. We wrote 50-something pages of ideas and every morning and I’d go in with sheets of paper and talk to Francis at lunch. He’d pick everything. It wasn’t just free for all. It was amazing.”
Viola Davis as Dr. Volumnia Gaul
Oscar winner Viola Davis stars as the villainous Dr. Volumnia Gaul, the head game-maker for the 10th Hunger Games and the key figure who implemented the games in the first place. Asked by Variety at “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” premiere in Los Angeles if she found any good in the villain, Davis responded: “I did not. I did not see that in the book. I do believe that as a general rule you have to find the good in a character. But I did not see that in her. That’s why she was more fun, because I didn’t have to find the humanity in that. She relished the evil. She relished the evil because that was a great weapon to survive the dystopia.”
Director Francis Lawrence says he was inspired by Willy Wonka when bringing Dr. Gaul to life on the big screen, but Davis did not pull from any previous big screen villains. “No not really. I didn’t think of that,” she said. “I was thinking of me. I was in survival mode. I wish I could come up with something awesome for you, but I can’t.”
Fionnula Flanagan as Grandma’am
Grandma’am is Coriolanus and Tigris’ strict grandmother. She became their guardian after many family members died during attacks on the Capitol amid the war. She is played by Irish actor Fionnula Flanagan, best known for movies such as “The Others” and her Tony-nominated stage performances in “Ulysses in Nighttown” and “The Ferryman.” She had a recurring role on the ABC television series “Lost” as Eloise Hawking.
Burn Gorman as Commander Hoff
Commander Hoff is the leader of the peacekeepers in District 12, which puts him in a direct clash with tribute member Lucy Gray Baird. The peacekeepers are soldiers for the Capitol who act as their extension of law enforcement. Hoff is played by Burn Gorman, who moviegoers might recognize from his supporting roles in “The Dark Knight Rises” and the “Pacific Rim” franchise. His TV resume includes the role of Clubfoot Karl Tanner on HBO’s fantasy series “Game of Thrones” and the Marshal in the first season of Amazon Prime Video’s revisionist history drama “The Man in the High Castle.”
Ashley Liao as Clemensia Dovecote
Clemensia Dovecote is Snow’s friend and classmate in the Capitol who becomes a mentor to a tribute from District 11 during the 10th Hunger Games. She is played by Ashley Liao, who has headlined two major streaming projects in recent years thanks to the Disney+ fantasy movie “Secret Society of Second-Born Royals” (2020) and the Paramount+ romance film “Love in Taipei” (2023). She started her career as a child actor with a role on Netflix’s “Full House” sequel series “Fuller House.”
Max Raphael as Festus Creed
Festus Creed is Snow’s friend and classmate in the Capitol who becomes a mentor to a tribute from District 4 during the 10th Hunger Games. He is played by Max Raphael in his most prominent screen role to date. Raphael previously had a role in the Disney+ adaptation of “Black Beauty,” while also starring in teen-driven projects such as “Slaughterhouse Rulez” and “School’s Out Forever.”
Zoe Renee as Lysistrata Vickers
Lysistrata Vickers is Snow’s friend and classmate in the Capitol who becomes a mentor to a tribute from District 12 during the 10th Hunger Games. Lucy Gray is the female tribute from District 12 and is mentored by Snow, while Jessup is the male tribute and mentored by Lysistrata. The latter is played by Zoe Renee, who has had roles in festival movies such as the SXSW coming-of-age drama “Jinn” and the Sundance horror favorite “Master.” She also starred in the Disney+ original sports movie “Chang Can Dunk” and appeared on the BET series “The Quad.”
Nick Benson as Jessup
Jessup is the male tribute from District 12 alongside Lucy Gray. He is mentored by Lysistrata Vickers and played by the actor Nick Benson in his biggest break. Prior to “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes,” Benson had supporting roles in two streaming projects thanks to Netflix’s horror-comedy limited series “Boo Bitch” and the Disney+ basketball series “Big Shot.” In the film, Jessup becomes an ally to Lucy Gray during the games.
Isobel Jesper Jones as Mayfair Lipp
Mayfair Lipp is the daughter of District 12’s mayor and one of Lucy Gray’s biggest rivals. She’s played by Isobel Jesper Jones, who starred in the Netflix series “The Bastard Son and the Devil Himself” and the Starz drama “The Serpent Queen.”
George Somner as Spruce
Spruce is a citizen from District 12 whose rebellious actions against the Capitol often get him beaten and reprimanded. He wants to escape the totalitarian rule of the Capitol. He’s played by actor George Somner, who Netflix subscribers might recognize as Joe from 12 episodes of the high school comedy series “Sex Education.” He also had a role in the 2019 horror movie “Crawl.”
Mackenzie Lansing as Coral
Coral is the female tribute from District 4 during the 10th Hunger Games. She is mentored by Festus Creed and is recognized as one of the strongest female tributes in the games. Coral is played by Mackenzie Lansing, who had roles in the television series “Red Oaks” and “Tell Me a Story” before joining HBO projects such as “The Deuce” opposite Maggie Gyllenhaal and “Mare of Easttown” opposite Kate Winslet. Her film credits include the 2021 indie drama “Allswell.”
Cooper Dillon as Mizzen
Mizzen is the male tribute from District 4 during the 10th Hunger Games. He’s played by Cooper Dillon, a German actor making his major Hollywood debut in “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.”
Hiroki Berrecloth as Treech
Treech is the male tribute from District 7 during the 10th Hunger Games. He’s played by Japanese-British actor Hiroki Berrecloth, who is making his feature acting debut in “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.”
Kjell Brutscheidt as Tanner
Tanner is the male tribute from District 10 during the 10th Hunger Games. He forms a short alliance with District 4 tributes Mizzen and Carol during the games. He is played by German actor Kjell Brutscheidt in his Hollywood debut after acting in hometown productions such as “Spreewaldkrimi.”
The Covey Members
Lucy Gray is a member of a traveling musician group known as the Covey, whose additional members include Billy Taupe (Dakota Shapiro), Maude Ivory (Vaughan Reilly, pictured above), Barb Azure (Honor Gillies), Clerk Carmine (Konstantin Taffet) and Tam Amber (Eike Onyambu). Billy Taupe is notable for being Lucy Gray’s former love interest.
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