Rachel Zegler Tapped To Play Lead Role For ‘Hunger Games’ Prequel

Before Katniss Everdeen, there was Lucy Gray Baird, and Rachel Zegler will be bringing her story to the silver screen. The West Side Story star has been cast by Lionsgate to play the character in The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, which is set to debut on 17 November 2023.

Francis Lawrence, who directed three out of four Hunger Games movies (Catching Fire, Mockingjay Part One, and Mockingjay Part Two), will be returning to helm the adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ novel. Production is expected to begin later this year, with franchise producer Nina Jacobson and her partner, Brad Simpson, serving as producers.

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Speculation about Zegler’s casting was first prompted after she tweeted, “listen up….. can y’all grow restfully? are you becoming an individual resting decisively?” Eagle-eyed fans later pointed out that the first letter of each word corresponds to protagonist’s name, thus confirming her role in the show.

Set 64 years before the original Hunger Games films, the prequel tells the tale from President Snow’s point of view, and will not feature Jennifer Lawrence’s Katniss Everdeen. A synopsis of it reads:

“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.”

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes will be released in theatres on 23 November. Outside of the franchise, Zegler has also been tapped to play Snow White for Disney’s upcoming live-action adaptation of the classic fairy tale.